The world’s best private bank for high-net-worth individuals 2023: Julius Baer
Keep it simple: that is how Julius Baer approaches the pursuit of private banking. That is not to say that what it does is easy.
But it doesn’t busy itself with the likes of corporate banking and investment banking, or any retail business. As chief executive Philipp Rickenbacher says, the independent Swiss wealth-management firm focuses on just one thing: serving wealthy private clients. And it does it very well.
Julius Baer scores highly across the board with the external judging panel, particularly in the fields of innovation and technology, and client service and delivery.
The Zurich-based outfit, which is present in 60 locations in 26 countries around the world, from Belfast to Bengaluru and Shanghai to São Paulo, serves high net-worth clients individually, as families and over generations.
“Contrary to industry trends, we continue to serve HNWs in a personal way, with a dedicated relationship manager,” it says.
Each client benefits “from Julius Baer’s capabilities as true wealth architects”, benefiting from its global reach and ability to deliver highly bespoke solutions, and without the conflict of interest in the product offering that some clients find problematic at universal lenders.
Digital innovation is at the core of its business: the bank spent SFr500 million ($542 million) on efforts to modernize its value chain and add value to clients over the past two years.
The products it delivers are those it deems best for a particular client, and its size – the bank boasts a SFr100 billion balance sheet – also allows it to manufacture products in-house.
It is a real private bank, not a ‘platform’ atop which myriad financial services are slotted into place
It is a real private bank, not a ‘platform’ atop which myriad financial services are slotted into place – and the result is a personalized experience that its HNW clients implicitly trust.
This decision to, in Rickenbacher’s view, take a step back a few years ago and to choose to deliver the right client experience consistently across its network has paid off handsomely.
It starts by asking HNWs the right questions, such as: 'What matters to you?'. The point is to kickstart a conversation that can then explore any number of needs foremost in the client’s mind, from understanding long-term tax obligations, to how to keep a company in the family or make the most of an inheritance.
In investment services, it identifies each client’s goals, then matches it to their risk profile. Do they want access to structured products, foreign exchange, precious metals, environmental, social and governance-focused investments or discretionary mandates – or all of the above? They are all here.
Underpinning it all is the Swiss firm’s unbending commitment to financial stability. Julius Baer recorded a common equity tier-1 ratio of 14% at the end of 2022 and posted a full-year net profit of SFr950 million. Solid inflows of capital in the second half of the year, when net new assets rose by SFr9.8 billion, in key markets such as Germany and the UK, reinforce its reputation as a pillar of strength in difficult times.