Julius Baer mulls China joint venture

Pedro Gonçalves
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Julius Baer mulls China joint venture

Swiss bank Julius Baer plans to set-up a majority-owned China joint venture to tap into the country's growing population of HNWIs, according to Reuters.

The plan comes as China, the world's second-largest country by number of billionaires, has been opening up its financial sector for bigger foreign participation.

If successful, Julius Baer will be the first major private bank to set up a wealth management joint venture in China. Its plan to establish onshore presence is reported here for the first time.

Switzerland's third-largest listed lender is likely to take a decision on its Chinese partner next year before starting the formal licence application process, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

China's wealth management industry is the fastest-growing in the world but has historically been linked to the sale of high-risk, illiquid investment products and lax regulatory oversight.

That made offshore business - where banks help Chinese clients manage their riches in locations such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich - the preferred route for most global wealth management firms.

China is a key market for Julius Baer, which in Asia is overseen by wealth veteran Jimmy Lee.

Asia accounts for 26% of assets by client domicile, surpassing second-ranked Western Europe's 25%. The region fueled the group's growth across key indicators including new money, profits and AUMs in the first half of the year.

Julius Baer already has a JV in Thailand: SCB Julius Baer. 

The firm also recently inked a partnership with a wealth management institute based in Beijing, in a bid to foster education among Chinese private bankers.

 

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