12 Years of Family Wise: From Small Acorns, Oak Trees Grow

28 February 2024

Family Wise turns 12! Join our journey from humble beginnings to the vibrant community we are today. Let’s reminisce about the growth that has shaped us and share light-hearted anecdotes. Grab a cup of your favourite beverage, settle in, and raise a toast with us as we commemorate 12 years of memories and milestones.

Let’s Start at the Beginning…

Our founder and managing director, Kirsty’s journey into genealogy began at the tender age of about 6 or 7 years old, sparked by the rich tapestry of family history woven by her grandfather. Surrounded by a treasure trove of family documents meticulously collected by her grandfather, Kirsty found herself captivated by the stories they held. As her curiosity deepened, her mother’s own venture into tracing their lineage served as further inspiration, igniting Kirsty’s passion to explore her family’s roots. From here, Kirsty has never looked back.

old family photos

Family Wise Was Born…

Kirsty’s journey towards founding Family Wise was a culmination of her deep-rooted passion for genealogy and a drive to make a difference in the industry. Already doing family history research for others, Kirsty’s path took a significant turn when she stumbled upon the world of heir hunting through a friend affiliated with another firm. However, disillusioned by the questionable ethics she encountered within the company she then started working for, Kirsty wanted to set up her own company, one defined by integrity and transparency. This determination to make her own stamp on the industry and imprint her ethical principles led her to establish Family Wise.

Despite encountering scepticism from a speaker she heard at Who Do You Think You Are? Live, who cautioned against venturing into entrepreneurship, Kirsty’s resolve remained unshaken. Just two days later, fuelled by her vision for a more ethical and client-focused approach, Family Wise was born, marking the beginning of a journey dedicated to preserving legacies with honesty and integrity.

The Early Days…

Family Wise was founded in 2012 and initially operated from Kirsty’s home. In those early days, the upstairs bedroom served as the makeshift headquarters, witnessing the birth of countless stories amidst the faint wheel marks left by the first photocopier installation.

The landing became a bustling hub of activity, as the first salaried member of the team diligently sorted through records and documents on the floor. The kitchen transformed into an impromptu workspace, providing unexpected encounters. A surprise visit from a frog sent the team scrambling onto chairs in panic, only for Kirsty to heroically rescue it and return it to its natural habitat. Amidst the chaos, Kirsty’s cats often claimed their territory on chairs, leaving the team with limited seating options but endless amusement. During the early days of Family Wise, we experienced many stories of resilience and camaraderie that laid our foundations for the future.

We Moved Into Our First Office…

1 December 2016: Family Wise took a huge step forward by securing its first official office space. Transitioning from the cosy confines of Kirsty’s home to a dedicated workspace marked a pivotal moment in Family Wise’s evolution. In the compact office, unconventional laptop placements on filing cabinets for conference calls became the norm, and 121 meetings with staff were often held in the café across the street or team members would ‘take the MD for a walk’ around the car park. Amidst the hustle and bustle of office life, even a curious pigeon once came in to say hello! As the team settled into their new surroundings, they navigated new habits, including the frequent trek to change parking tickets every two hours. Despite the quirks, our first office holds a special place in our hearts and will definitely not be forgotten quickly!

We Moved Again…

14 December  2018: Family Wise moved into our new office on the High Street, marking a big step forward. Organising the move was a big project that required a lot of planning and more work than ever. However, the first thing we bought to decorate was our clocks, all set to different time zones around the world! A memorable moment was when furniture was being put together around the team as they worked. Amidst the hustle, one team member crafted a makeshift chair out of a box with an added rug fetched by Kirsty’s parents for comfort.

We are so lucky to have been supported by Ideal Displays in decorating the office over the years. Here are some of our favourites which make the space feel like Family Wise:

Highlights & Lowlights

We have now been in this office for over five years and have more work than ever! Our team has grown exponentially with people from all around the globe, and we have helped so many people while staying true to our ethics the whole time. It’s probably because of this we have the best Google reviews in the industry!

Despite the triumphs, we have also encountered our fair share of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 presented a formidable obstacle, forcing the team to navigate the complexities of remote business operations. A skeleton crew remained in place in the office to maintain productivity amidst unprecedented circumstances. Certainly, this was a challenging time. However, despite the adversity, we came out stronger than ever!

Why Do We Do What We Do?

We do what we do because we care. We truly believe that the goods left behind from an estate belong with their rightful heirs and are not to be inherited by the government. We want to change people’s lives, whether that’s by inheriting some money, discovering more about your ancestors, or reconnecting with family, we want to help.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about Family Wise’s roots and how we came to be where we are today. Happy 12 years FWL!

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