Swiss bank Julius Baer announce plans to kick start operations in South Africa

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Julius Baer, one of Switzerland’s oldest and largest banking institutions, announced its plans to open a local office in South Africa. This development makes the bank the second Swiss private bank in as many weeks to announce its plans to kick start operations in the country.

The Swiss bank, which was founded 128 years ago, is listed in Switzerland and manages more than $400 billion for its clients. It officially launched its South African office on November 7, 2018 and joins Lombard Odier, another Swiss bank that had been licensed two weeks ago to provide advisory services to high net-worth individuals who want to diversify their portfolios offshore.

The entry of the Swiss banks can be seen as a vote of confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, which has focused on cleaning up corruption and turning around loss-making state-owned enterprises.

Deputy Global Head of Emerging Markets at Julius Baer, Daniel Savary said “we believe there will be a turnaround in the current economic situation. There is a lot of economic hope that Ramaphosa has given to the people. We think if you want to be pioneering, then you have to be one of the earliest to establish a presence, even if it is not immediately attractive to do so”.

Acknowledging that the bank had a long-term strategy to grow its business in South Africa, an Executive Director at Julius Baer, Raoul Korn said “when we commit to a market we do so for the long term, and that means going against the grain sometimes”.

High net-worth individuals in South Africa who choose to use the bank’s services become clients of Bank Julius Baer in Switzerland, but advice is co-ordinated through on-the-ground relationship managers who utilise the bank’s various specialists.

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