Practice Strategies

The Household Management Gap: An Opportunity To Ease Families’ Everyday Frustrations

Jacco de Bruijn June 15, 2023

 The Household Management Gap: An Opportunity To Ease Families’ Everyday Frustrations

The chaos that comes with managing a complex household is an everyday source of frustration, in the place where families expect to be most at ease. This article explains how some of these strains can be eased.

Disorder and lack of organization in the domestic lives of ultra-high net worth clients can undermine the hard work done to create structure in their business lives. This article, from a tech entrepreneur, Jacco de Bruijn, takes a look at the issue. (More on the author below.) He is CEO of Nines, a provider of household management software for HNW families.

The editors are happy to share these views and invite replies. The usual editorial disclaimers apply. Email

Families can rest easy when they know their wealth is well managed – but when it comes to their homes and their daily lives, chaos often gets in the way of the calm, friction-free lifestyle they expect.

Think about what matters most to your clients: time to unwind, enjoy what they’ve earned, create memories with their families. 
If the key elements of a family’s everyday life – their homes, their assets, and the people who help manage them – are in disarray, can they truly be at ease?

Some 79 per cent of US homeowners with a net worth of $5 million+ own two or more homes. Managing many properties, the high value assets within them, and the people it takes to care for them is demanding – and it’s not something families have the time or desire to deal with on their own.

For most families, hiring household staff is the answer to calming the chaos. But somewhere between a family’s wealth managers and their household staff, org charts break down, technology becomes piecemeal, and professional systems and protocols give way to haphazard tasks and projects. Without the same professional structure, protocols and expectations, staff lack direction and support, and families are set up for disappointment – not to mention financial, reputational and security risk. 

Increasingly, family offices and wealth managers are starting to bridge this gap, expanding their services to ensure their clients’ peace of mind more holistically.

JDJ, for example, provides end-to-end family office services, bringing the same professionalism and care to clients’ residential property management, human resources for household staff, and all the details of a client’s everyday lifestyle.

Stretching to provide lifestyle services has the power to ease clients’ most immediate frustrations. They want their homes to feel like sanctuaries and they want loyal, high-performing staff, but they don’t want to spend their limited free time focused on property maintenance and HR.

Beyond providing a service that strengthens the client relationship, bridging this gap reduces financial risk.

“I think the general thought amongst the families is, ‘this is just our life, these are just our homes,’ and it’s not structured in a way that you would structure a property management firm,” says Rebecca Maguire, founder of EFO Advisory Services. “But some of the values of these personal property portfolios are competitive with something like a real estate investment trust that’s on the stock exchange – I’ve worked for families with multiple properties each worth over $100 million.”

Research from Spectrem suggests that families are starting to expect broader support from their wealth managers – 87 per cent of clients say they expect non-liquid asset management as part of their wealth management services, but only 5 per cent actually received those services.

This gap creates an opportunity for wealth managers to bring the high level of structure and organization characteristic of a family office to the critical elements of a family’s everyday life: their homes, their assets, and the people who help manage them.

HR for household staff
Household employment is too often managed casually. Bringing professional hiring practices, payroll and human resources to household staff helps the household avoid the risk of financial penalties, legal issues, and reputational damage.

Standard protocols
Establishing protocols and expectations for household staff is critical to efficient, cost-effective household operations. With clear reporting lines, documented job descriptions, and written standards and procedures, staff understand the family’s goals and are empowered to meet expectations. Without a strong organizational structure, turnover is high – which is time-consuming, costly and inconvenient for the family.

Property and asset management
Even with the right private service professionals in place, most teams of household staff are under-supported. Estate managers oversee daily task lists, annual maintenance plans and large scale projects, often without a system for tracking and managing everything. Implementing a system to manage all of a household’s projects and communications keeps everything organized, ensures that nothing slips through the cracks, reduces the risk of damage to a property or an invaluable asset, and creates an historical record of the family’s illiquid assets – both for financial recordkeeping and for generations to come.

Data security
A wealth manager would never let data security go unchecked, but how secure can a family’s most private information be if household staff are sharing photos, contracts, passport documents, etc. via text messages and personal email accounts?

“You’re only as secure as your weakest link,” says Tony Gebely, who founded Annapurna Cybersecurity after discovering families’ need for better cybersecurity during his time at Family Office Exchange.

The cybersecurity best practices applied to a family office should extend to every aspect of the family’s household. Conducting regular audits (extending from the family office all the way to the beach house wifi router) and implementing centralized, secure communication tools where the family has control over their own data can help households reduce risk.

The opportunity
The world’s most affluent families feel this pain, quite literally, close to home. The chaos that comes with managing a complex household is an everyday source of frustration, in the place where they expect to be most at ease. Wealth managers and family offices who extend basic professional principles into the household environment stand to provide an invaluable service to clients and build deeper, more meaningful relationships.

About the author
Jacco de Bruijn is an experienced technology entrepreneur who has been leading revenue and operations teams and scaling several businesses from inception to acquisition. He has a passion for creating customer-centric brands and building an employee-first culture. As co-founder and CEO of Nines – a 2023 Family Wealth Report Awards finalist in the Property & Household and Product Innovation categories – Jacco works with UHNW families and the advisors and private service professionals who support them, using software to simplify and elevate complex and demanding households.

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