Belfast Telegraph

Swiss wealth managers set to seek out Northern Ireland millionaires

By Margaret Canning

A Swiss private bank has set its sights on clients including Northern Ireland's 'ultra-high net worth' individuals with wealth of £20m plus as it starts operations here.

Julius Baer gives wealth management advice and planning to individuals with a wealth of at least £1m - double the normal threshold for other advisers.

Its ultra-high net worth clients are those with £20m to £60m.

Its operations started here in November led by three former Barclays Wealth directors, Jonathan Dobbin, Glenn Branney and James McDowell.

Managing director David Durlacher said it was keen to establish a presence here regardless of political uncertainty and the potential effects of Brexit.

"The hardest thing for any business including ours is not premises but people. A business is built not on its brand or balance sheet but the people it has, and that's what I'm spending much more time trying to get in place. We have three of the best people in wealth management in Northern Ireland and we'll continue to recruit around them to build up business in Northern Ireland," he said.

Julius Baer's arrival here had been in the planning for some time. It's had a presence in the Republic since 2000 and in the UK for over 50 years.

Mr Durlacher continued: "We have spent a long time determining when the best time was for us to come in and make this investment. And we are committed in the long term to seeing that investment succeed.

"As for the economic position, there are always political questions that are raised, and now is no different, but we see the Northern Ireland economy as a very strong base for wealth creation. We have seen that over many decades in shipbuilding or manufacturing.

"That wealth creation has evolved. We've seen fintech, biotech, pharmaceutical and what's been coined as a knowledge economy - perhaps more so than any other UK region.

"With others retrenching and restructuring, we think now is the time to make that investment and have that long-term view beyond what are the political questions."

He described the practice as a niche operator, concentrating on high net work to ultra-high net worth. "In Northern Ireland, 72 out of the top 100 firms are family-owned or they are locally owned and that is a very strong correlation to us. Whatever Brexit may throw out we still see a very strong opportunity for wealth creation and for industries in NI to succeed.

He said the firm was "bullish" about US opportunities as President Donald Trump pursues a protectionist agenda.

"The US has for a long time before Trump's election been an attractive market and does not lose that now and, if anything, we view the US as one of the strongest investment options.

"The reforms he (Trump) has brought about in the past year have been shown to be beneficial to companies... and we therefore do hold out the US equity market as showing continued price appreciation potential so we are bullish on that opportunity."

Belfast Telegraph

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