Get to Know the Bill Gates (non) Family Office

bill gates family office investment firm

When you think of Bill Gates, you likely think of Microsoft, philanthropy, and – most of all – tons of money. Can you imagine being the person or entity in charge of his vast personal wealth (around $80bn USD)?

Cascade Investment

Michael Larson is the chief investment officer for Bill and Melinda Gates Investments (BMGI). He’s responsible for managing Bill’s personal wealth through Cascade Investment. Moreover, he is handling the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation trust endowment. Hired 22 years ago, Larson has diversified Gates’ funds out of Microsoft into a broad range of investments. Cascade Investment is now known to invest globally and across many asset classes, including property and non-tech companies.

Types of Family offices

This brings us to the topic of family offices, which are private wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth investors. There are two main types: A single family office (SFO) services one family’s wealth, while a multi-family office (MFO) services multiple.  Many experts would call Cascade Investment a single family office but, in reality, it doesn’t label itself as one. It refers to itself as purely an asset management firm that invests the Gates’ wealth. As the Financial Times writes, “Cascade is not a family office in the traditional sense and does not like to call itself one. It does not handle logistics, payroll or expenses for the foundation. Cascade is purely an asset management firm that invests Gates’s personal wealth. BMGI is an organisation that manages the portfolios of Cascade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and other entities, but again it does not label itself as a family office.”

Family offices shift their focus

Many single family investment firms are shifting away from the term “family office”. Instead, they take on labels such as “private investment office”. Thus, they can focus more on their purpose as advisors on family wealth. 

Catherine Tillotson, managing partner of Scorpio Partnership, told the Financial Times,“…where once the term ‘family office’ was synonymous with the isolated management of an individual family’s wealth, today it perhaps best describes a growing body of professional knowledge and an industry in its own right.”

Still, Cascade Investment’s primary purpose remains: manage the Gates’ family’s wealth. No family office is created and executed in exactly the same way. While the terminology of some family offices is changing, we see the business of family wealth management is booming. Bill Gates is just one of thousands of very wealthy individuals operating such offices.

List of Family offices in Germany, United States and UK

Many of the world’s most prominent family offices are based in the United States, but Germany boasts some very established ones itself. Read our blog post Three German Single Family Offices To Watch In 2018 to learn more about them. Research Germany offers research into single family and multi family offices. Take a look at our lists of Top 150 Single Family Offices in Germany, Top 150 Single Family Offices North America, or Top 75 Family Offices UK. You can also write us through our direct chat and ask for preview files. We can also get you customized research tailored to your needs.

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