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Writing DNA the Julius Baer way

Julius Baer’s DNA is in its people. So how do you fill the gap – for both the Bank and its clients – when a long-standing relationship manager retires? That is where the Junior RM Programme comes in. By giving juniors coaching, time to develop, and a manageable book of clients, the programme is ensuring the Bank’s most talented people are ripe and ready to step up.

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When talented assistant Anna Zeiser approached her team head Rolf Meyer earlier this year and told him she wanted to take her career to the next level, he was all ears – and he knew just what to offer her: a place on Julius Baer’s Junior RM Programme.

“Anna wanted to take the next step in her career,” says Rolf, a senior RM and team head in Julius Baer’s 50-strong Basel office. “With the Junior RM Programme, we can develop her in a structured way from assistant to RM. The programme really helps keep people in the organisation.”

Anna echoes his thoughts. “I hope this programme will lead me into the next chapter of my professional life and help make me part of the next generation of RMs at Julius Baer,” she says.

The gift of time
The Junior RM Programme was created in collaboration between the Front and the Julius Baer Academy to give young people in the Bank development opportunities. Over a period of three years, junior RMs gradually take over clients from a senior RM, acquiring in-depth knowledge and skills along the way. An integral part of the programme is a senior RM willing to give a young colleague a head start.

“Compared to becoming an RM directly, when you get a client book from one day to the next, the programme gives you coaching, time, and the chance to have a smaller book of clients to begin with,” explains Tabea Widmer, Front Development at Julius Baer Academy.

Given the relatively high average age of RMs at the Bank, the programme is also important for tackling succession. Tabea highlights: “We have to ensure that the Bank’s history continues.”

A challenging opportunity to get involved
The Basel office is a good example of how the programme works, although it is available location-wide. Janick Vogt, who we caught up with in 2018 when he had just embarked on the journey, is now well on his way to completing the programme. A member of Rolf’s team, he is preparing to step into the shoes of a senior RM who is retiring in a couple of years.

“In client meetings we act as a team, so the clients gradually get introduced to me,” explains Janick. “My mentor is a very experienced RM and I can learn a lot from him.”

Importantly, the clients are happy with how the transition is progressing. “After three months and again after six months, I asked my clients if they were happy with my successor,” reveals Janick’s senior. “I have only had positive responses.”  

Rolf Schneider completed the programme in 2018. “The programme helped me get a foot in at Julius Baer, and I knew it would be a challenge, as well as a good opportunity to get involved,” says Rolf.

Two minds are better than one
Rolf’s mentor Peter Senn was, he says, the crucial success factor for him. “Collaborating with Peter absolutely helped me build my book of clients. The acceptance in our team was just great, too. I got support from every other RM, not just Peter,” he smiles.

You have support, and so many experienced people around you, and it is a unique way to build up a sophisticated client book. Just perfect.

Rolf Schneider, former programme participant

Peter has been in the business for more than 30 years, and explains that he wanted to offer junior colleagues the same support he received when he was starting out. “To develop the spirit of Julius Baer, we have to develop our RMs from junior to senior level so they have the Julius Baer DNA,” says the senior RM and team head.

He continues that as a manager, you have to walk the walk, support your juniors, and count on them in difficult situations. Developing young people – and being part of their success, he says, is “the most satisfying part of being a leader.”

Developing Julius Baer’s most talented people
Anyone who wants to participate in the programme has to find a senior RM who is willing to introduce a young colleague to the business – and that can be particularly difficult in the current climate. But persevering is worth it for everyone involved, says Rolf Meyer.

“We have to make sure that we are motivating and bringing all our talented young people forward. Those we are offering this programme to are by definition our most talented people,” he insists.

Peter is of the same opinion. “I am convinced that Julius Baer can only grow when we develop our own employees,” he says.

What it takes
To be successful on the programme, junior RMs need to be open-minded and talented, with an openness to meet new people, according to Rolf Meyer. There also needs to be trust between mentor and mentee.

When Rolf Schneider accepted the job at Julius Baer Basel, Peter, his new boss, shook his hand and told him he had made the right decision. “The trust we had during the programme – and you have to have trust – was built, Rolf told me, in that moment,” reveals Peter. 

For Janick, experience as an assistant is helpful when embarking on the programme. He explains: “For me, it is important to have a minimum of three years as an assistant, so you know your clients a bit better.”

Rolf in turn insists that integrity and a positive attitude are key. “Be yourself,” he says. “Be committed and willing to listen to several advisors on a daily basis. And just go for it. You have support, and so many experienced people around you, and it is a unique way to build up a sophisticated client book. Just perfect.”