Case Study: How intentional governance drove investment opportunities for a global family business
Amir Maroun transformed his father’s business from a local laundry service into a highly successful commercial cleaning company. The family’s wealth came primarily from the operating business, but was managed with an ad-hoc approach to investing and lacked a disciplined decision-making framework. Recognizing the need for greater investment guidance, the family turned to Cambridge Associates (CA) to institutionalize its portfolio and create a formal governance process.
- Client: The Maroun family
- Source of wealth: Global family business specializing in commercial cleaning services
- Situation: Desire to institutionalize investments while continuing to run the operating business and lay the governance foundation for a generational transition
- CA relationship: Discretionary total portfolio management, with family consent required for all private investment decisions
As his wealth grew over the years, Amir used multiple private banks to manage his money, generally directing them towards conservative investments. This somewhat narrow perspective served neither the family nor its wealth well and failed to reflect a comprehensive investment strategy, leverage new opportunities following market corrections, or address the need for a long-term family succession plan.
Amir had several children who became involved in the family business as they got older. After earning a master’s degree, the oldest son, Karim, assumed responsibility for business-related investments. As he became more immersed in the investing community, Karim realized his family was lacking a professionalized approach to managing and growing its wealth. With his father’s support, he began looking for an investment firm that worked with multigenerational families and found CA.
The Maroun family wished to institutionalize its investment approach with a firm that offered:
- Development of a diversified growth portfolio, with liquidity for potential future acquisitions or investments
- Extensive private investment experience and knowledge
- A formal, tailored investment governance process to streamline and strategize decision making
- Expertise in the generational transfer of wealth
Karim’s first point of contact at CA was Carolyn, a managing director, who met with the Marouns to detail CA’s investment and governance experience with families of significant wealth.
She also introduced the family to a CA Investment Director, Navneet, who had extensive experience working with multigenerational families with operating business holdings. Navneet explained CA’s approach to advising private families and building institutional-quality portfolios, as well as the differences between discretionary and non-discretionary management relationships.
Understanding that he would be actively involved in the family business, and that his father was pulling back his involvement in investment decision making, Karim advocated for a discretionary approach. The family would be actively informed on portfolio considerations, but the CA team would ultimately have decision-making power, and would execute all portfolio investments.
After a CA analysis demonstrated the incremental return potential possible through private investing as compared to public market investing, Karim saw the value of building a large, strategic PI allocation, which included the sectors related to the family’s operating business. This synergistic strategy also offered the family an opportunity to glimpse the steps involved in readying private businesses for listing – a potential future path for select business units. The resultant growth portfolio included the following allocation: 50% private investments, 10% public equities, 25% diversifiers, and 15% macro hedge. As the business generated income every year, cash was added to the portfolio in a systematic, thoughtful way.
The Maroun family retained one banking relationship for its general and business banking needs, and consolidated all investment management to CA. The children have assumed more active roles the management of the business, and family investment decisions have successfully transitioned to the IC. Amir has gained confidence in the investment approach and the value of a more inclusive family wealth decision-making framework.
The CA team continues to work closely with the Marouns, discussing trades, sharing opinions on asset managers, and otherwise meeting the family’s investment and governance needs in a strategic, collaborative manner. Consequently, Karim now concentrates on growing the family business while the CA team focuses on growing the family’s wealth, generating meaningful performance, and strengthening the family’s legacy.
This narrative has been fictionalized to ensure anonymity, but is based on actual client work.