Column: Julius Baer CEO David Durlacher tells Tempus why Brexit must be placed within a global context

By David Durlacher | 10 Oct 2019 | Wealth, Leaders

As Julius Baer International expands in the UK, its CEO explains  why the UK’s economic uncertainty is not as unprecedented as we might believe

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* David Durlacher is CEO of Julius Baer International

As Julius Baer International expands in the UK, CEO David Durlacher tells Tempus why the UK’s economic uncertainty must be placed within a global context for our Leader's Column

"This is not a unique moment in time. The truth is that Brexit is not so different from other political shocks that have been with us for generations.

Of course, when you’re in the thick of any political shock it can lead to uncertainty, which is very much what we are seeing in the financial market today. It’s true that, right now, people on every economic level are watching what’s going on in the UK with ever-increasing concern. But it’s also important to bear in mind that this is true around the world.

If you look at the current oil crisis in Saudi Arabia or, more broadly, the trade war between the U and China or the tensions between South Korea and Japan, you start to notice a common picture of political uncertainty.

Year after year we see major shocks to economies and to political landscapes. It’s no different today than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, but today’s news flow is relentless. The markets can move on the basis of a tweet, and that means market volatility is extremely high.

Our aim at Julius Baer International is to try and pull back from that noise and make sense of it in a wider context. Yes, the UK is in uncertain times now, but this is still a domestic story within a global context. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, our clients need to understand that context in order to be wise with their money, rather than trapped by the political news flow.

We have been established experts in wealth management for 130 years, with 50 years of operating here in the UK, looking after the interests of high net worth to ultra-high net worth private clients. This means our focus is extremely specialised; we aim to see the world through our clients’ eyes so they can be wise in navigating the financial market, and how they plan their wealth in the long term.

Today's news flow is relentless. Markets can move on the basis of a tweet

Despite the shift in financial management to online, which allows people to feel more in control of their wealth, and has been a good disrupter for the financial services world, what we have found is that nearly 60% of high net worth individuals still prefer meeting in person when making important investment decisions. Those relationships with our clients are only growing more important. People look for a person they trust to advise them, rather than a computer algorithm.

Add to that the globalisation of wealth, which means that as people have multiple properties and assets around the world, they want to see the world as one overall picture rather than just focus on the country they reside in. The vast majority of our clients are entrepreneurs or at the helm of family-owned companies; they are very much in control of their life and business activities, but we often find they are time-poor, and so our aim is to provide them with the information they need to be as wise about their finances as they are about their businesses. We want to ensure their wealth is working hard for them in a way that has value and vision.

This is what is driving our significant expansion around the world. It’s been notable in the UK, where in the past few years we have expanded our footprint from offices in London alone, to a further four wealth centres around the UK – Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast. This allows us to provide our clients with that global view, but also understand their local economies and pressures.

Our clients want proximity and personalisation, and we’ve found client demand to be unprecedented – in the last year we have opened more new accounts than in the previous two years combined – and we’re determined to provide our clients with unrivalled, individualised focus. That’s what I think makes us different in a time where our clients want truly global value."

Read more in Tempus Magazine's 2019 Wealth Edition, out now

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