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Remaining at the forefront of an industry requires more than a fair idea of the path forward. Thanks to a number of visionary decisions, Julius Baer successfully transformed the local family business into the international reference in wealth management.
The early years
Recognising the importance of Zurich as a centre for international trade, Julius Baer, founder and namesake of the Group, opened shop on Zurich’s famous Bahnhofstrasse in the 1890s. What initially started as a small bureau de change rapidly expanded into a wealth management, securities and FX trading company – business activities that remain at the core of the Julius Baer Group until today.
Growing the business
Parallel to the strong economic growth and technological progress after World War II, the company – then a partnership comprising of an increasing number of Baer family members – began expanding internationally in 1940 and thus laid the first building blocks of today’s global business. The need to finance this rapid growth drove Julius Baer to become the first Swiss private bank to go public in 1980.
The majority of the voting rights from the initial public offering remained within the Baer family pool, thus ensuring full control of the Group. This only changed at the beginning of 2005 with the introduction of the ’one share, one vote’ principle. This new financial leeway was utilised in the same year for the acquisition of three private banks and a specialised asset manager, which together were even larger in size than Julius Baer itself. Exploiting this massively increased scale, Julius Baer started expanding rapidly into global growth markets, particularly Asia, and achieved strong growth momentum in the years that followed.
The 2008 credit crisis ushered in a fundamentally changed business environment, leading Julius Baer to take a rather unorthodox step. By separating the Group’s asset management and private client businesses in October 2009, each individual business was provided with precious strategic flexibility in the early stage of this new cycle. The private banking business became the independent Julius Baer Group Ltd. and began systematically broadening its international presence and specialised offering via acquisitions and a number of strategic cooperation agreements around the globe.
In August 2012, Julius Baer initiated the next phase of its growth by acquiring Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business outside the US. IWM provided a rare opportunity to substantially increase the Group’s footprint in established markets, new markets, and in growth regions. This growth enabled the Group to further strengthen its leading position in a highly competitive industry, to provide clients with an unparalleled product and services offering, and to tackle any future challenges from a position of strength as the international reference in wealth management.
“If contact between people is based on trust and absolute integrity, then it is of benefit for both sides.” Julius Baer, Founder
Birth of Julius (Isaac) Baer
Born in Heidelsheim in the Grand Duchy of Baden on 2 January. At birth named Isaac (changed to Julius in 1897).
Establishment of Hirschhorn & Grob
Establishment of the partnership Hirschhorn & Grob, the forerunner of Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd., on 17 October. Its registered office is located at Bahnhofstrasse 85 in Zurich.
Hirschhorn, Uhl & Baer
Julius Baer becomes a member of Hirschhorn & Grob. The firm is dissolved and a new partnership is established under the name of Hirschhorn, Uhl & Baer
Julius Baer & Co.
The firm is dissolved after the death of Ludwig Hirschhorn. On 23 April, all the assets and liabilities are taken over by Julius Baer & Co., a limited partnership of which Julius Baer is the general partner.
Member of the Zurich Stock Exchange
Julius Baer & Co. is licensed as a stockbroker by the government of the Canton of Zurich and becomes a member of the Zurich Stock Exchange on 1 May.
First issue of “Wochenbericht”
On 7 March, Julius Baer & Co. publishes the first issue of the "Wochenbericht", a publication in German. It is intended mainly for banks and explains issues in the worldwide money and foreign-exchange markets. Over the course of time, its coverage is extended to independent reporting of political and economic events. It enjoys a high reputation among its readers in Switzerland and abroad. The publication is discontinued with the last edition in December 2005 and no. 3943 in total.
Purchase Bahnhofstrasse 36
The Bank purchases the property at Bahnhofstrasse 36 (which until 1922 was the seat of the Swiss National Bank) on 14 March. In the following year, it becomes the Bank's place of business, and it has been the Headquarters of the Group since then.
Swiss Private Bankers Association
On 1 January, the Swiss Private Bankers Association is founded. Walter J. Baer is one of the founding members.
Offices at Wall Street
Establishment of the Baer Custodian Corporation with offices at Wall Street 67 in New York on 27 November (the first Julius Baer company to be established abroad).
On 25 September, the Bank celebrates its 75th year of operations. Establishment of the Julius Baer Foundation for the promotion of the arts and support of academic endeavours on 10 December.
Establishment of Julius Baer Intl. Ltd.
On 29 March, Julius Baer International Ltd. in London, the first Julius Baer company in Great Britain, is established.
First Swiss investment fund
Launch of Baerbond, the first Swiss investment fund of the Julius Baer Group, on 10 March.
Opening in Cayman Islands
Establishment of Baerbank (Overseas) Ltd., Cayman Islands on 7 August (the first Julius Baer company on Grand Cayman). In 1975 it is renamed the Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company Ltd.
Establishment of the Holding
On 27 November, Julius Baer & Co. (Holding) Ltd. is established. All of the assets and liabilities of Julius Baer & Co. are transferred to the newly established Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd.
On 15 April, Baer Holding Ltd., the successor of Julius Baer & Co. (Holding) Ltd., issues bearer shares with a par value of CHF 500, priced at CHF 3,000.
Launch of the Art Commission
The Art Commission of Bank Julius Baer is launched on 25 August.
Julius Baer Investment Mgt. Inc.
Establishment of Julius Baer Investment Management Inc. in New York on 4 February. The company is licensed as an investment management firm by the Securities and Exchange Commission on 13 April.
Opening in New York
The Bank opens a branch office in New York on 2 April. It is the first Swiss bank to make use of the Federal Charter created in connection with the International Banking Act.
Opening in Geneva
The Bank opens a representative office in Geneva on 14 November.
Acquisition of Société Bancaire
Baer Holding Ltd. Acquires 51% of the shares of Société Bancaire in Geneva on 12 February. In 1995, this stake is increased to 75% and in 1997 to 100%.
Opening in Frankfurt
Establishment of Bank Julius Bär (Deutschland) AG in Frankfurt am Main on 27 July.
Opening in Guernsey
On 9 August, Julius Baer Trust Company (Channel Islands) Ltd. is established in Guernsey. In 1994, Bank Julius Baer (Guernsey) Ltd. is founded. In 1999, it becomes a branch office of Bank Julius Baer.
Bank Julius Baer celebrates its 100th anniversary with a party for its staff held at the "Kongresshaus" Zurich on 7 September.
New divisional structure
Baer Holding Ltd. is renamed Julius Baer Holding Ltd., and the new division-based management structure of the Julius Baer Group is implemented.
Acquisition of Bank Falck
Julius Baer Holding Ltd. acquires 51% of the shares of the Lucerne-based Bank Falck & Co. AG. In 1998, the remaining 49% of the shares are converted into a branch office of Bank Julius Baer.
Opening in Vienna
The bank opens a representative office in Vienna, today's Julius Baer Investment Advisory GesmbH.
Opening in Lausanne
Opening of a branch office in Lausanne by Banque Julius Baer (Genève) SA, which is in turn converted into a branch of Bank Julius Baer.
Julius Baer Family Office
Establishment of Julius Baer Family Office Ltd on 8 December.
Opening in Basle
Bank Julius Baer opens a branch office in Basle in April.
Admission to the SMI
On 2 October, the shares of Julius Baer Holding Ltd. are admitted to the Swiss Market Index (SMI), the blue-chip index of the Swiss Stock Exchange (SWX).
Focusing on core business
Julius Baer withdraws from the institutional brokerage business on 10 October in order to refocus attention on its traditional asset management business.
License for Dubai
On 20 September, Bank Julius Baer becomes the first international private bank to be licensed for trading in the newly created Dubai International Financial Centre.
Single-class registered share
On 17 January, the Baer family decides to give up the control of the company in order to open up new growth perspectives for the Group. The Board of Directors proposes the introduction of a single-class registered share without voting restrictions, which is approved by the Annual General Meeting on 12 April.
Private Banking North America
Julius Baer sells ist private banking business in the USA and Canada to UBS on 1 April. In the USA, the Group exclusively concentrates on business with institutional clients and investment funds from its offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Opening in Buenos Aires
The Group's presence in South America is extended with the opening of an office in Buenos Aires.
Expansion in Germany
Business in Germany is expanded to take in the four sites in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Duesseldorf and Hamburg, thus permitting the Bank to provide on-the-spot service for discerning private clients in Germany.
Acquisition of three private banks
On 5 September, the Group announced the takeover of three private banks - Ehinger & Armand von Ernst AG, Ferrier Lullin & Cie SA, and BDL Banco di Lugano - as well as GAM Holding AG from UBS AG. This makes Julius Baer the leading pure asset manager in Switzerland and creates a solid platform to secure the long-term independence and competitiveness of the Group.
Openings in Asia
On 3 November the Hong Kong office is ceremoniously opened as is the Singapore office on 9 November. The Asian expansion was substantially driven by Alex W Widmer, then CEO of the Private Banking Division and member of the Group’s Executive Board.
Opening in Crans-Montana
On 4 January, Bank Julius Baer celebrates the opening of ist office in Crans-Montana, the first one in a Swiss tourist resort.
Opening in Zug
On 4 June, Bank Julius Baer opens a branch office in Zug.
Opening in Abu Dhabi
Julius Baer opens a representative office in Abu Dhabi on 25 November.
Opening in Verbier
Julius Baer opens a branch office in Verbier on 4 January. This step is aimed at further strengthening the Bank's position in its Swiss home market while increasing the proximity to its clients.
Opening in Moscow
On 19 March, a representative office in Moscow is opened.
Opening in St. Gallen
Julius Baer opens a branch office in St. Gallen on 21 October. This step is aimed at further strenghtening the Bank's position in its Swiss home market and the bordering foreign regions while increasing the proximity to its clients.
Opening in Jakarta
Julius Baer opens an advisory office in Jakarta on 4 November. This step is aimed at further strenghtening the Bank's position in South East Asia while increasing the proximity to its clients.
Opening in St.Moritz
Julius Baer opens a branch office in St. Moritz on 1 December. This step is aimed at further strenghtening the Bank's position in its Swiss home market while increasing the proximity to its clients.
Acquisition of Alpha SIM
On 25 May, Julius Baer announces the acquisition of the independent Italian investment manager Alpha SIM which is specialised on high-net-worth clients. Following the regulatory approval in September 2009, the company is merged with Julius Baer's business in Milan, thus complementing the Bank's well-established onshore business in Italy.
Private banking at its purest
On 1 October, the shares of Julius Baer Group Ltd. are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange for the first time. This step is the result of the former Julius Baer Holding Ltd. separating its private banking and asset management businesses, thus establishing Julius Baer as the leading Swiss private banking group. It strongly reinforces Julius Baer's commitment to private banking excellence in keeping with its rich Swiss heritage dating back to 1890.
Acquisition of ING Bank (CH)
Julius Baer acquires ING Bank (Switzerland) Ltd, a pure private banking business including subsidiaries in Switzerland, Monaco and Jersey. Closed on 14 January, the acquisition further strengthens Julius Baer's position as the leading Swiss private banking group, especially in French-speaking Switzerland where the Bank doubles its presence in Geneva. In addition, the Group now possesses a banking license in Monaco, enabling it to offer a broader service spectrum to clients in this important market.
Expansion in Germany
In January, Bank Julius Bär Europe opens new offices in Kiel and Würzburg and thus strengthens its presence in Germany.
Strategic market entry in Brazil
Julius Baer acquires a strategic minority participation in the leading independent Brazilian wealth manager GPS in May. This acquisition underlines Julius Baer’s clear strategic intention to build its wealth management business in one of the most attractive and promising domestic wealth management markets worldwide.
Cooperation with Macquarie
In October, Julius Baer enters into a strategic partnership with Macquarie Group, a leading financial institution in Asia. Within the agreement Julius Baer will refer clients’ investment banking transactions to Macquarie. Macquarie will refer clients who require private banking services to Julius Baer and more of Macquarie’s investment banking products will be available to Julius Baer’s clients in Asia within the framework of Julius Baer’s open product platform.
Opening in Shanghai
The Group’s presence in Asia is extended with the opening of a representative office in Shanghai on 30 November.
Opening in Tel Aviv
In March Julius Baer opens its first local presence in Tel Aviv in order to tap the potential of the attractive Israeli market.
Partnership with Bank of China
In July Julius Baer and Bank of China (BOC) announce a strategic collaboration agreement. BOC and Julius Baer will mutually cross-refer existing as well as potential clients. In addition, Bank of China (Suisse) SA was integrated into Bank Julius Baer at the end of the year.
Acquisition of Merrill Lynch’s IWM business
On 13 August, Julius Baer announces the acquisition of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business outside the United States from Bank of America. The acquisition brings Julius Baer a major step forward in its growth strategy and considerably strengthens its leading position in global private banking.
Principal Closing of IWM transaction
The IWM integration starts with the Principal Closing of the transaction on 1 February, including the acquisition of Merrill Lynch Bank (Suisse) S.A. in Geneva, incl. Zurich and Dubai.
Further IWM entities transferred
According to schedule, Julius Baer transfers further legal entities in relation to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business on 1 April. The entities involved are in Uruguay, Chile, Monaco and Luxembourg.
Stake in TFM Asset Management
Thanks to TFM Asset Management AG, in which Julius Baer acquires a 60% stake in April, the business activities with Japanese clients, both internationally and on the ground, are rapidly expanded.
Transfer IWM business in Asia
In May the transfer of the Hong Kong and Singapore businesses of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) starts. This step represents another major milestone in the two-year integration process.
Strategic partnership with Kairos
Julius Baer and Milan-based Kairos Investment Management SpA announce that they have reached a major milestone with the completion of the transaction announced in 2012. As of 1 June, the combined business in Italy operates under the name Kairos Julius Baer SIM SpA.
IWM transfer UK, Spain and Israel
In July the transfer of the businesses of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) in the UK, Spain and Israel starts. This step represents another major milestone in the two-year integration process.
Stronger presence in Germany
At the beginning of October, Bank Julius Bär Europe AG opens a branch in Mannheim and thus strengthens its presence in Germany.
Transfer IWM business Panama
In November the transfer of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business in Panama starts.
Merger of Infidar and WMPartners
The merger of our subsidiary Infidar Investment Advisory Ltd. and WMPartners Wealth Management Ltd. announced in November creates one of the largest independent asset management companies in Switzerland.
IWM transfer in the Middle East
In December, Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) businesses based in Lebanon, Bahrain and the UAE are transferred. Through this step, Julius Baer gains new footholds in Beirut and Manama and strengthen its existing presence in Dubai.
Majority acquisition of GPS
In March, Julius Baer acquires another 50 per cent in São-Paulo-based GPS Investimentos Financeiros e Participações S.A. This increases Julius Baer’s participation in GPS to 80 per cent from the 30 per cent acquired in May 2011.
Merger of Infidar and WMPartners completed
After the announcement in November 2013, the merger of independent wealth management companies Infidar Investment Advisory Ltd. and WMPartners Wealth Management Ltd. is completed on 1 April. The consolidated company trades under the name of WMPartners Wealth Management Ltd.
Transfer of IWM business in Ireland
The transfer of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business based in Ireland takes place on 13 April. Through this step, Julius Baer will gain a new foothold in this important wealth management market.
Transfer of IWM - The Netherlands
In May, the transfer of Merrill Lynch’s International Wealth Management (IWM) business based in the Netherlands takes place.
Partnership with FIA Formula E
Julius Baer is the exclusive Global Partner of the new FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s first fully-electric racing series. The inaugural championship, which starts in Beijing on 13 September 2014, includes 10 races in major cities around the globe. For Julius Baer, FIA Formula E with its visionary approach and global reach is an ideal sponsorship platform as it stands for many values Julius Baer shares.
125th anniversary of Julius Baer
Founded in 1890, Julius Baer celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2015. The jubilee year is not only about history, but rather about sharing visions for the future.
Acquisition of Commerzbank International S.A. Luxembourg
Julius Baer acquires Commerzbank International S.A. Luxembourg and transforms into a new branch, Bank Julius Baer Luxembourg S.A. The acquisition strengthens the Bank’s presence in Luxembourg, providing further strategic flexibility for its European businesses.
Julius Baer included in the FTSE4Good Global Index
The shares of Julius Baer Group Ltd. become a constituent of the FTSE4Good Global Index, reflecting the importance of corporate sustainability in the Group's overall strategy.
Strategic wealth management joint venture with Siam Commercial Bank
Julius Baer and Siam Commercial agree to establish a joint venture to offer unique and best-in-class wealth management services to Thai clients.