Julius Baer sees rising profit but money growth slows

Zurich-based Julius Baer reported a 19% profit rise in pre-tax profits in the first half of the year and kept hiring bankers even though the pace at which the Swiss private bank attracted fresh funds from wealthy clients slowed down.

The bank said net profit stood at 443.8m Swiss francs ($446.9m) in the first half, compared to 353.2m francs year-ago.

Baer, Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank, brought in 10bn Swiss francs (£7.67bn) in net new money in the first six months of 2018, a growth rate of 5%.

Assets under management grew at the weakest pace in three years, causing concern that the wealth manager may not be able to sustain past growth rates.

The bank’s assets under management reached 400bn Swiss francs at the end of June, 3% higher than at the end of 2017.

Concerns about trade wars and other geopolitical risks had seen account holders positioning themselves “more cautiously,” said Bernhard Hodler, chief executive.

Clients were deleveraging US dollar bond portfolios as the cost of borrowing increased. “We saw that a bit in Asia and the Middle East,” he said in a press conference.

Julius Baer hired 94 new private bankers in the first six months – 13 from Reliance, the Brazilian wealth manager it acquired this year – to bring its total to 1,475.

The bank has set forth a global expansion plan, focusing on Asia and other emerging markets, including through acquisitions.

In the UK it is set to launch a holistic wealth service.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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