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Julius Baer battles to return to past profit glories

While business has picked up at Julius Baer, it still remains short of its profit target.

Julius Baer battles to return to past profit glories

While business has picked up at Julius Baer this year, it still remains short of its profit target.

A combination of improved market conditions and net money inflows in first four months of 2019 lifted assets under management by 12% to a record CHF427 billion (£336 billion). 

After what the Swiss private bank described as 'soft start' to the year, positive net inflows generated an annualised growth rate of 3%.

The group attributed this to increase to clients in Asia and Europe and a 'meaningful contribution' from the relationsship managers it hired in 2018.

However, the 3% growth rate remains below the 4-6% mid-term target the firm has set itself.

Overall, the firm's gross margin rose from the 79.6 basis points reported in the second half of 2018 to 82 basis points.

However, analysts at KBW described the increase as 'largely disappointing', noting the margin was well down from the 93 basis points it stood on a year ago. 

Earlier this year, Julius Baer said it planned to cut 100 jobs as profit pressure mounted.  

In its update today, it said it had set aside CHF17 million to cover severance costs, with CHF11 million already accounted for.  

Expansion in the UK remains a core part of Julius Baer's strategy. 

Last month it launched its fifth UK branch in Belfast, headed by a trio of hires from Barclays.

The Belfast office is part of an ambitious regional plan that has unfolded over the past 19 months. This has seen it open offices in Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh, adding to its existing London hub.

As well as expanding in the UK, the firm has strengthened its bases elsewhere.

In Latin America, the group increased its ownership of NSC Asesores in Mexico from 40% to 70%, while Julius Baer’s Brazilian subsidiary GPS signed a partnership agreement with leading local digital financial advisor Magnetis.

Meanwhile, in Asia, SCB Julius Baer, the joint venture with The Siam Commercial Bank, launched formal operations following the receipt of the necessary licences in Thailand.

However, it is reviewing strategic options for its Italian asset management subsidiary Kairos. 

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