July 8, 2019 / 5:18 AM / a month ago

Swiss Bank Julius Baer appoints insider Rickenbacher as CEO

ZURICH (Reuters) - Julius Baer (BAER.S) has appointed Philipp Rickenbacher as its new chief executive officer, the Swiss private bank said on Monday, opting for a company insider to drive the wealth manager’s future growth.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a branch of Swiss private bank Julius Baer in Zurich, Switzerland February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

His appointment is the latest leadership change among Switzerland’s wealth managers, who seek to preserve and increase the assets of rich clients. Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) appointed Philipp Wehle as the head of its international wealth management business after last week Iqbal Khan quit.

Swiss wealth managers are fighting to win new customers in emerging markets as Europe slows, but face increasingly volatile financial markets and new competitors.

Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank looked at an array of internal and external candidates before deciding on Rickenbacker, chairman Romeo Lacher told reporters.

He declined to comment whether former Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) wealth management boss Iqbal Khan had been a contender for the post.

“This is the outcome of a careful evaluation process of internal and external candidates and we are especially proud of having a very strong bench of several internal candidates,” Lacher told reporters.

“We do not discuss our evaluation process in public.”

Khan had been said to be a contender for CEO position at Julius Baer, speculation which was heightened when he suddenly quit Credit Suisse last week “to pursue other opportunities.”

Lacher said he was convinced that Rickenbacker, was the best candidate for the job.

The 48-year-old Swiss citizen, currently head of intermediaries and global custody at Julius Baer, will replace Bernard Hodler, who is retiring as CEO and the board.

Julius Baer, which manages assets of 427 billion Swiss francs (£344.4 billion), has been seeking a successor for Hodler, its former risk chief who took over at the Zurich-based group when predecessor Boris Collardi abruptly left in 2017 to run unlisted rival Pictet.

The bank said Hodler would remain with the bank to ensure a smooth transition in to 2020, before pursuing other projects which were not disclosed.

Rickenbacker, a former consultant at McKinsey, joined Julius Baer in 2004 where he also had a stint as head of advisory solutions.

“We are delighted that, with Philipp Rickenbacher, we have been able to appoint an internal candidate with a compelling leadership and industry track record, deeply familiar with Julius Baer’s culture and business, but prepared to actively address the challenges of the future,” Lacher said.

The chairman said the time was not right for a detailed strategy update, saying the bank would stick to its financial targets.

In February the bank announced plans to axe 130-140 jobs, or around 2 percent of its workforce, as part of a cost-cutting plan, after a tough end to 2018 caused it to scale back growth targets.

The bank is due to report its half-year results on July 22.

Reporting by John Revill, editing by John Miller

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