Julius Baer has started to transfer over the UK clients it acquired from Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management business.
The Swiss firm announced the deal to buy Merrill Lynch’s non-US wealth management operations from Bank of America last August following its decision to focus on private banking.
The UK is the last of the big markets being integrated into the business and the process is expected to be completed by mid-2014.
Although cagey on the number of UK clients it has both acquired and retained and the assets they hold, Adam Horowitz, head of Julius Baer’s UK business, said the response has been ‘very positive’.
‘It is contingent on them transferring over voluntarily, there are no contractual obligations,’ he said, adding that globally it expects between CHF57 billion and CHF72 billion to move across.
‘We have had a very positive response from our relationship managers since the announcement of the deal and it is the right direction to go. If you think of the length of service of the Merrill Lynch business- it is very long and it has very experienced financial advisers in the group and part of the thing that attracted them to us was that we are a pure private bank and best of breed house.
‘We are not selling products manufactured by a big investment bank.’
Horowitz, who moved across from Merrill Lynch following the deal, said the deal will mean Julius Baer is now one of the biggest private banks in the UK rather than a smaller niche player. The combined business will move into new premises in the City in September.
Although he says the company’s brand has resonance in high and ultra-high net worth circles, Horowitz says it will look to build on this and will be announcing major initiatives, which are likely to involve high profile sponsorship deals, in due course.
Gian Rossi, head of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe and a member Julis Baer’s executive board, said that the UK is now the firm’s second biggest market after its Switzerland home.
He added that the London teams’ investment process will be driven out of London, however, although the firm’s global reach means it has teams on the ground around the world that will share research.
Since buying Merrill Lynch’s international wealth management arm, it has already started to transfer over the businesses located in Switzerland, Monaco, Hong Kong and Israel.
Rossi refused to rule out further acquisitions, but said the process of transferring over the Merrill Lynch business is a major operation that will take up considerable resources in the short-term.