private banking magazine: Julius Baer Germany achieved a net profit of around 22 million euros in 2021. What were the main drivers of earnings?
Heiko Schlag: We have already grown profitably in recent years. In 2021, we were even able to triple our profits compared to the year before. The earnings drivers? We have a slim structure and are very customer-centered. Those who are interested in looking around for a wealth management provider feel this. For many years, we have been able to welcome an average of 600 to 700 new customers a year. In addition, the customers who have chosen Julius Baer usually stay for generations and continue to build up their assets with us or recommend us to others. This means that we could also note a 30 percent increase in earnings and a net inflow of new money of around 1.5 billion euros last year.
How do you ensure that the result is repeated this year?
blow: In light of the war in Ukraine and the associated geopolitical uncertainties, the starting situation in 2022 will certainly be different. Nevertheless, we are convinced that our business model as a focused asset management provider will demonstrate its strengths against this very background. Today, the demand for global stock solutions clearly dominates. All our customers, whether they are entrepreneurs, freelancers, foundations, family offices, wealthy private clients or church institutions, have in common that they have increased their share quota in recent years.
“UOur clients often have an entrepreneurial background and would like to meet their advisor on an equal footing.“
This is apparently something we as a specialized provider are more likely to do. In the first three months of 2022, we were able to generate almost 700 million euros in net new money. In the past, however, we have also made various investments, for example in our market presence or our offer, in order to continuously increase our customers’ satisfaction. In our annual customer survey, more than 99 percent of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with our advice. A good starting point for continuing to improve and thus continue to grow.
What are the biggest challenges for the bank’s German private banking business now and in the future?
blow: We want to continue to grow sustainably. We achieve this through skilled consultants. And here I see a bottleneck. Many colleagues in the industry have in recent years been increasingly trained in product sales. We are looking for people with expertise, empathy and commitment. When I say commitment, I mean not just daily commitment, but an attitude. Our overall goal is to create added value that extends beyond the financial. In addition, our customers are at the center of our thoughts and actions. In doing so, we take into account what is really important to them – professionally and privately, today and for future generations. Our consultants must keep an uncompromising eye on this at all times. An independent and entrepreneurial mindset is also extremely important to us. Not only for our bank, but also for our customers, who often have an entrepreneurial background and would like to meet their advisor on an equal footing.
More new customers! More advisors? What are Julius Baer Germany’s employment plans for 2022, will there be new locations?
blow: I would like to set up another equation. Our growth does not depend on new hires. For many years, longtime advisor colleagues have contributed over 90 percent to the net inflow of new money. However, we have already hired consultants this year and more will come. Our hiring plan for 2022 is similar to previous years: We always hire new consultants if they fit into us and our culture. We are moving forward in exactly the same way as we expand our locations. We will only expand if these fit into our long-term strategy and the team can support our culture. Incidentally: In many other professional departments, such as in portfolio management or in the credit and personnel departments, we have also made appointments this year.