3 August 2017

Swiss bank Julius Baer opens UK offices to seize on Brexit nerves

Published by┬áReuters – 3rd Aug 2017

Swiss private bank Julius Baer is opening three new UK offices as it looks to bank for wealthy residents spooked by uncertainty over Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.

The offices will be in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow while Julius Baer will also establish a small team in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Zurich-based bank said in a statement on Thursday. Julius Baer had a UK presence only in London so far.

A person familiar with the plans said Julius Baer would likely staff the offices with around 30 employees.

Speaking last week, Chief Executive Boris Collardi had highlighted Britain as “one of the biggest opportunities for Julius Baer” because of the wider uncertainties created by Brexit.

“The typical high-net-worth individual in the UK is feeling very uncertain about the future in terms of assets, in terms of currency risk, in terms of diversification and in terms of how they should be positioning themselves in this market,” he said.

It bucks a trend set by many investment banks planning to reduce their UK presence in anticipation of Brexit, a process which could cost banks their ability to serve the EU from London – commonly referred to as passporting rights.

However, passporting rights are of less significance in private banking, where stability is one of the main priorities.

Britain is one of the most attractive markets for private banks with the world’s fourth-largest population of millionaire households behind the United Sates, China and Japan, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Two-thirds of Britain’s wealth is held by individuals outside of London and the southeast, said Julius Baer, Switzerland’s third-biggest private bank behind UBS and Credit Suisse.

UBS has UK offices in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds. Credit Suisse serves the UK market through its London office.