Julius Baer in the Middle East: Finding a new footing

Swiss private bank Julius Baer is aiming to increase assets under management by about 59 percent over the coming two years as the firm expands globally. Boris Collardi, the man at the helm of the banking giant, outlines his plans

At 38 years old and at the helm of Julius Baer, Switzerland’s third largest wealth manager, Boris Collardi has pretty much all the ingredients of a rising star. He’s just acquired the international private banking arm of Merrill Lynch outside the US and is moving on full steam ahead to expand the bank’s franchise globally.

For Collardi, who likes to vacation where the bank does business or plans to, emerging markets are a key driver to growth.

“The number one growth driver in our industry is the growth of the market,” says Collardi, who spent about twelve years at Credit Suisse in Europe and Asia, with roles including chief operating officer and chief financial officer of EMEA private banking before joining Julius Baer in 2006 and rising to become its youngest CEO in 2009.

“Overall growth which has been a bit more subdued in the past two to three years and on the macro level has been shifting to new economies which have accelerated much faster than in the past,” he adds.

“That is what defines the strategy of a wealth management firm today; you need to follow where the growth of the money is. That’s the reason why we’re trying to ramp up our presence and expertise in different parts of the world.”

The overall financial wealth of high net worth individuals declined 1.7 percent across all regions in 2011, with the exception of the Middle East, according to the World Wealth Report 2012, released by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini. However, despite the decline in investable wealth, the first decline since the 2008 financial crisis, to $42 trillion, the global HNWI population grew marginally by 0.8 percent to 11 million. In 2008, global HNWI wealth dropped by 19.5 percent.

During 2011, the United States, Japan and Germany accounted for 53.3 percent of global HNWI population. The previous year, these three nations represented 53.1 percent of the world’s HNWI population.

The world of private banking for Swiss banks has, however, become a bit more complicated as Switzerland comes under pressure over its banking secrecy regime from the US, UK and Germany which are vying to crack down on tax evaders.

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