Photo: Lawrence Teo and Clement Goh

How would you describe what you do at Family Office For Art (FOFA) to someone you’re meeting for the first time?

I’m a consultant for art collection and estate planning.

How did the idea for FOFA originate and what inspired this family venture?

I conceptualised FOFA in 2021 with the goal of advising HNWI collectors, families, and even corporations on how to look after their valuable collection of fine art and collectibles and preserve their art wealth. For the past seven years, I helped my father catalogue and manage his art collection — that’s 300 works of art acquired since the 1980s — so I fully understand the challenges and pain-points of managing a collection and how to do it well. 

Beyond that, we also have expertise to help collectors generate more value from their collection through services such as legacy planning, PR, museum loans, donations, tax breaks, art financing, patronage, and philanthropy.

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What sets FOFA apart from other art advisors?

FOFA was founded by two art collectors — my father and myself. Collectively, we have over 40 years of experience in this field, so I often say that “we walk the talk”. 

Most times, art advisors are independent agents who help their clients source and acquire art and help them sell works too. On the other hand, FOFA’s team of art advisors and partners are experienced professionals and specialists. Our collective network covers Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and as far away as London, New York, and Paris.

We also understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Photo: Lawrence Teo and Clement Goh

How do you guide established collectors in passing down their art legacies and ensuring generational continuity?

Every collector is unique, and therefore every collection is unique. Our role is to encourage the collector to start thinking early about what they would like to do with their collection, given a time frame. It could be updating the inventory, having a list, or checking the condition of the more valuable pieces. The next step is to encourage the collector to speak openly about their future plans for the collection with the family and the next generation of owners. This has to be handled delicately and usually requires multiple discussions. Once a direction has been set, FOFA can work with the family members or their family office to ensure that their plans are carried out in a timely manner.

Dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental.

Ning Chong, founder of Family Office For Art is putting the lessons she learned from managing her family’s 300-strong art collection to good use

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What are the current trends in the family office Asian art market as compared to the Western art scene?

Broadly speaking, I would say that in Asia, most individuals or families who collect art do so in a personal capacity under their own name. Whereas in North America or the UK, for example, because of their complicated tax regime with inheritance tax and capital gains tax, many HNWI individuals may choose to place their collectibles in a Trust or Foundation.

How is FOFA adapting to digital art and NFTs in the art world?

We have been observing this phenomenon — the rise and fall of NFTs since they became mainstream in 2020. I think Art NFTs are here to stay, and personally I treat them as another genre of art; all NFTs are essentially digital works of art. Over the last 18 months, I’ve given many presentations on how NFTs have disrupted the art market to private bankers, lawyers, and government officials. There was a lot of interest due to the hype from HNWI clients, especially the older generation. Having said that, I would say 99 per cent of the older Asian art collectors do not own any NFTs at all.

Where do you see FOFA in the next decade, given the evolving global art market dynamics?

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.