Published: Sep 21, 2023

The Central Bank of Bahrain issues new regulation’s in relation to investment services provided by family offices

On September 14, 2023, the Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB“) introduced the Family Office Services Module, an integral addition to Volume 4 (Investment Business) of the CBB rulebook. This module specifically pertains to companies that offer family office services, encompassing entities like wealth management and advisory firms specializing in tailor-made solutions for affluent families.

These family office services encompass one or more of the following regulated investment services:

a. wealth management advice;
b. investment management;
c. arranging credit and advising on credit;
d. safeguarding financial instruments (i.e. a custodian);
e. regulated administration services;
f. trust services (i.e. licensees can act as a trustee for family assets held in a trust with the family members as beneficiaries);
g. operating a collective investment undertaking (i.e. an operator); and
h. offering of insurance advice (insurance consultant).

A person does not carry on an activity constituting a family office service if the following criteria is met:

a. the family office provides family office services only to family clients;
b. the family office is wholly-owned by family clients and controlled by the family members; and
c. the family office does not hold itself out to provide regulated services to the public.

Family clients include: (i) a family member of a single family; (ii) trusts for which the family members are beneficiaries; (c) any company, wholly owned (directly or indirectly) by, and operated for the sole benefit of, one or more family members.

Family members are those defined under the family definition (defined below). All family clients must also fall within the definition of accredited investors.

Family for the purposes of family offices services module means one or more individuals that are:

a. lineal descendants of a common ancestor;
b. spouse of the common ancestor;
c. spouses of the lineal descendants of a common ancestor;
d. stepchildren and adopted children of the common ancestor; and
e. stepchildren and adopted children of the lineal descendants of a common ancestor.

All family office licensees must:

a. be managed by a board of directors;
b. adopt a formal board charter;
c. meet periodically as prescribed by the board charter;
d. record minutes of the board meetings; and
e. appoint two (2) senior executives with residency in Bahrain, one of whom must be a chief executive officer.

How can we help?

Al Tamimi and Company’s Banking and Finance team regularly advises on regulatory matters and is well placed to assess the opportunities derived from the implementation of the new family service module. If you would like to further discuss the contents of this article and find out what it means for your business, please contact Al Tamimi and Company in Bahrain.

Key Contacts

Rafiq Jaffer

Partner, Banking & Finance
(Bahrain, KSA and UAE)