Julius Baer winning in the Middle East

One of the oldest Swiss private banks, Julius Baer, believes its Middle East business will increase as it prepares to open a second hub office in Qatar and extend its activities there.

While launching its operations in Qatar, which has the world’s fourth-highest GDP per capita, may turn out to be a profitable move for Julius Baer, the UAE remains the company’s largest market in the Middle East and its fourth-largest market globally, as far as clients and assets go.

Julius Baer’s Chief Executive Officer, Philipp Rickenbacher stated that the bank has “clear growth plans” which will drive its operations in what is known as the second-largest economy in the region. The stellar performance of the UAE was the major factor that drove the firm’s operation in the Middle East higher than anywhere else in the world.

The UAE economy expanded by 8.4% in the first quarter of this year, and in 2022, it is anticipated to grow at its fastest rate since 2011.

“This region has grown over-proportionately, in comparison to the global Julius Baer network. We experienced very strong growth, especially with the help of Dubai.” The executive said although he failed to name specific growth percentages.

Julius Baer now handles assets worth 428 billion Swiss francs ($442.7 billion) and plans to begin operations in Doha in October. The move is part of what the lender calls its hub strategy, which from an advisory perspective gives it one more foot in the market in the Middle East.

“This addition has a lot of weight… as we’ve been very cautious in extending our footprint. It’s the first opening of an advisory office in a country in my time as chief executive in the last few years,” said Mr Rickenbacher, who took over the bank as chief executive in September 2019.

In 2004, Julius Baer was one of the first wealth managers to be granted a licence by the Dubai International Financial Centre. It now operates out of the emirate as its main base and employs more than 140 individuals, up from just a few over 20 years ago. Qatar’s regional network will be expanded to include the locations it already has in Bahrain, Israel, South Africa, and the UAE.

The bank is particularly upbeat about Saudi Arabia, the biggest economy in the Arab world and the top oil producer in Opec, which is anticipated to bring in $357 billion this year.

According to projections from the International Monetary Fund, it will grow this year at the greatest rate in a decade and be among the world’s fastest-growing economies. The kingdom’s GDP is projected to expand by 8.7 percent this year.

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