Best pure play private bank in Asia 2022
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Best pure play private bank in Asia 2022

Julius Baer

During a year of tumult and confusion in world markets, there was a certain advantage to being one of the world’s oldest and largest wealth managers.

The 130-plus-year-old Julius Baer also found certain benefits to being a pure-play shop in Asia, dedicated to wealth management alone. The Swiss giant’s premium brand in this sector pulled in 30% more new money globally in 2021 than a year earlier.

Positive net inflows came from clients domiciled in Asia, particularly Singapore, Japan, and India, as well as from Western Europe, the UAE and Brazil. That resulted in a record year for Julius Baer’s Asia Pacific team, led by Jimmy Lee, head of Asia Pacific and a member of the group executive board. It was a performance driven by strong recurring revenues and greater efficiency.

It’s not just about the magnitude of earnings, but the quality too. The bank boasts a strongly differentiated position in wealth management, competing internationally. Its pure business model epitomizes the personalized and independent service for which it is famous.

Jimmy Lee, Julius Baer.jpg
Jimmy Lee, Julius Baer

A presence in more than 25 countries and 60 locations, with over 6,700 employees worldwide, makes for quite a proposition. But what is key is that Julius Baer thinks of Asia as its second home market, making up for roughly a quarter of total AUM and its global workforce.

It boasts sizable franchises in China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore. It has dedicated local partnerships with Japan’s Nomura Holdings and Thailand’s Commercial Bank.

The team under Jason Moo, head of private banking for southeast Asia and branch manager for Singapore, is also turning heads with its Sustainability Circle investment network. This global community of clients committed to supporting the shift towards a more equitable future and a healthier planet is proving to be quite a sales tool.

In 2021 alone, client assets in sustainability discretionary mandates increased significantly. Philanthropy advisory mandates doubled. Julius Baer, whose head of private banking in Greater China and Hong Kong is David Shick, offers both discretionary sustainability mandates and sustainability advisory mandates.

The bank is big on thematic investing, focusing on plays linked to lowering carbon footprint, water scarcity, natural resource efficiency, nutrition innovation, healthcare innovation and economic empowerment. Its impact investing priorities champion assets that create a measurably positive impact for people or the planet, alongside financial returns.

Julius Baer was an early adopter of impact investing, which is now arguably the fastest-growing investment approach. It is serious about giving clients access to this dynamic market, and it has developed its own distinctive and comprehensive network to do so.

This strong commitment to environmental, social and governance factors dovetails with efforts to court Asia’s next generation of wealthy. Among its Next Generation client initiatives are seminars and training series focusing on financial management, entrepreneurship and sustainability, with an eye on building out its succession planning business.

Julius Baer is also innovating. An example is the roll-out of digital assets-linked exchange traded products in Singapore last year, to be followed by Hong Kong. It has an innovation centre called Launchpad, an equity trading app called e-trading and chat systems that allow private banking clients to communicate directly with their relationship managers.

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