About Complex Interests
Stewardship of Complex Family Wealth
In 2008, the “CFO” of a small, self-managed family office in the Washington, DC metro area asked the question “if I got hit by a bus, how would my family know or understand what we have?”
The issue was not that the other family members weren’t capable of stepping into the CFO’s shoes. Rather, the issue was that the family had complex interests: three operating companies (some with non-family partners), several real estate holdings, various alternative investments (including direct venture investments), and a comprehensive estate plan. There was no database, map, or handbook that sensibly laid out all of these diverse pieces and explained how they were connected to the various family members.
Had the CFO been hit by a bus in 2008, the family would have had to expend significant resources pulling together information gleaned from past tax returns, personal financial statements, and documents buried in file cabinets to try to put the puzzle together. Of course, the family would have never actually known whether it was successful because it could not have tracked down and advocated for interests it did not know about, e.g., what if the family members never found a particular life insurance policy, stock certificate, or promissory note to cousin Bob in the files? What became clear was that the worst time to go through what is essentially a full-scale forensic investigation into the family’s interests is after the person with all the “institutional memory” of the family’s interests is no longer around to help out.
In search of a solution to this problem, the CFO discovered that the state of the art at the time was something called an “estate binder,” essentially a 3-ring binder with every pertinent document printed out in its 12-point Times New Roman glory, accurately tabbed and referenced in a detailed table of contents. While certainly a good start, the CFO thought “I’d rather be hit by a bus than be a survivor and have to read all of that!”
So the CFO created a database-driven software program that like an estate binder would put all pertinent documents in one place but would also have a user-friendly layer on top of it that would make it simple for anyone to understand all of the family’s complex interests and how they were related to one another. After many years of using it himself, the CFO created a commercial version of the software in 2015 and introduced it to the public to see if anyone else was interested in using it.
He called it Complex Interests.
User-friendly software that makes it simple for anyone to understand all of the family’s complex interests and how they are related to one another.
Discovered the problem and realized a modern solution was not available.
Took on the role of steward over a private collection and developed software to help manage the task.
Developed prototype of Complex Interests for use within the family office for which it was created as well as a small local law firm.
Began coding a more robust, commercial version of Complex Interests.
Released Version 1 for use by a handful of local family offices and professional services firms.
Released Version 2 for use by family offices and professional services firms nationally.
Released the Complex Interests Viewer to allow for data portability to a server-less environment.