Julius Baer hires HSBC bankers in Latin American push: Sources

The headquarters of the Julius Baer Group in Zurich, Switzerland.
The headquarters of the Julius Baer Group in Zurich, Switzerland. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) - Julius Baer Group, Switzerland's third- largest wealth manager, hired several private bankers from HSBC Holdings to bolster its Latin American business, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The bankers are based in Monaco and Switzerland, said one of the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. More may be hired in Monaco, one of Julius Baer's European hubs serving Latin American clients, said another person. Officials at Julius Baer and HSBC declined to comment.

Julius Baer has acquired businesses and hired bankers to compete with larger wealth managers such as UBS Group and Credit Suisse Group. The firm has signed more than 200 client-relationship managers from Credit Suisse and other Swiss, Asian and British private banks this year, Chief Executive Officer Boris Collardi said last month. Albert Henriques joined Julius Baer from HSBC as chief executive officer in Monaco, the company said last month.

HSBC is in the process of divesting a portfolio of Latin American client assets in Switzerland to Banco Santander SAas the British lender restructures its private bank, people familiar with the matter said last month. The deal may include US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion) to US$6 billion of assets under management, according to the people.

About a quarter of wealth generated in the Latin American region is held offshore, making its residents among the most avid users of cross-border havens, according to Boston Consulting Group. While that wealth has traditionally been lucrative for Swiss banks, slower economic growth, political strife as well as corruption probes and a wave of government tax-amnesty programs have hampered business across the region.

Julius Baer previously reported outflows of money from clients taking part in tax amnesties in the first half of the year. While European tax-compliance programs are concluding, the loss of Latin American money may continue for another two to three years, Collardi said in July.

HSBC scaled back its Swiss private bank after a theft of client data in 2008 led to outflows of client money, investigations by government prosecutors and public outrage at the type of secret offshore accounts held in Geneva. The bank also sold a portfolio of client assets, including Latin American wealth, to LGT Group in 2014.