Julius Baer to double Asian assets

City A.M. Reporter
Julius Baer, Switzerland’s third-largest private bank, plans to double its Asian assets to 20-25 per cent of its total in five years as it recruits new staff and opens more offices in the fast-growing region.

Julius Baer, which had 166bn Swiss francs (£100.9bn) in assets under management as of the end of June, derives the bulk of its business in Europe, with Asian clients accounting for just over 10 per cent of total assets.

But the bank has identified Asia as its “second home market” and its expansion plans include upgrading its Northeast Asia headquarters in Hong Kong to a booking centre before year-end and opening a representative office in Shanghai next year.

Julius Baer also plans to set up a trust office in Singapore to advise clients in areas such as estate planning, chief executive officer for Asia and the Middle East Thomas Meier said yesterday.

“We are trying to move into a (Singapore) office space that can house 700 people,” he said when asked about new hirings. The bank employs over 400 people in Asia, the majority of them in Singapore.

Global private banks are increasingly turning their eyes to Asia, where – with the exclusion of Japan – wealth is expected to grow at nearly twice the global rate, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Private banks in Singapore and Hong Kong, the region’s most prominent financial centres, already manage $700bn. While Switzerland remains the world’s biggest wealth management centre with $2 trillion of offshore managed wealth, the centre came under pressure recently from an erosion of traditional bank secrecy and a bitter US tax fraud investigation into Swiss bank giant UBS.