Julius Baer names Philipp Rickenbacher CEO to replace Hodler

Julius Baer shares have gained about 30 per cent this year in Zurich trading, after dropping by 41 per cent last year.
Julius Baer shares have gained about 30 per cent this year in Zurich trading, after dropping by 41 per cent last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME (BLOOMBERG) - Julius Baer Group Ltd appointed Philipp Rickenbacher chief executive officer as of September, replacing Bernhard Hodler, who has been less than two years in the job.

Rickenbacher, 48, has been serving as head of the company's intermediaries and global custody bank. Hodler will retire as of Aug 31, Julius Baer said in a statement on Monday (July 8).

Hodler, 59, has seen a slowdown in inflows since replacing Boris Collardi at the helm of the Swiss firm in late 2017. Promoted to stabilise the bank and root out bad clients, the former chief risk officer steered it through a rough 2018, a year its shares fell the most among Switzerland's largest listed companies.

The appointment puts an end to speculation that Iqbal Khan might be chosen to head Julius Baer. Khan abruptly quit as Credit Suisse Group's head of wealth management last week with no indication about his future role. Now a question hangs over where he will end up, amid speculation that he's been in talks with UBS Group.

There was also speculation that Yves Robert-Charrue would get the CEO job. The 46-year-old chief of Europe and Julius Baer management board member built up the key business by going deeper into regional markets of the U.K. and Germany to win over local millionaires and boost assets under management.

"Bernhard Hodler was exactly the right man at the right time," Julius Baer Chairman Romeo Lacher said in the statement. "I would like to thank him for initiating this transformation, driving the bank's strategic agenda with a sharper focus on efficiency and risk management."

BIG CHALLENGES

While the shares have rebounded this year, the new CEO will face big challenges. In February, the bank cut financial targets and pledged cost reductions that include eliminating about 140 jobs. Julius Baer has seen a series of defections to rivals over the last several months, including a group of managers who handled the bank's business in Brazil.

Julius Baer shares have gained about 30 per cent this year in Zurich trading, after dropping by 41 per cent last year.

Media reports last month said Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has built up a stake of about 3 per cent in Julius Baer.