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Julius Baer launched today the first edition of the ‘Industry Report Latin America’, covering wealth creation, wealth management and investment behaviour in Latin America. The report was produced – according to Julius Baer’s open product and service philosophy – in cooperation with leading market specialists such as Aite Group and BlackRock. Roi Y. Tavor, Head Independent Asset Managers & Global Custody Americas and Africa, who initiated the study, said: “With this inaugural edition of Julius Baer’s first Industry Report on Latin America we aspire to highlight various aspects of the changing wealth management landscape in Latin America. We hope that this report will serve as a reference for all participants in the Latin American wealth management industry, including private clients, family offices and external asset managers.”

Ingredients for sustained wealth creation

There are a number of ingredients for sustained wealth creation in place in Latin America today. Growing at a strong pace, the region has almost tripled its gross domestic product since 2002, allowing for sustained periods of political stability. An overall higher purchasing power has enabled important parts of the population, which historically speaking were economically insignificant, to influence the overall level of activity in the region. In Brazil, for example, demand for cars has surged from 1.7 million units in 2005 to 3.8 million units in 2012. This rise of the middle class continues to shape the economic structure of Latin America.

Governments in the region have wisely used the windfall profits of the commodity super cycle to strengthen their financial position. External debt in % of GDP declined since 2002 from 42% to 25% of GDP, driving institutional and socio-economic change. A more business-friendly environment as well as checks and balances on governmental institutions continue to be established, a precondition for sustained growth. For example: Colombia carried out 27 reforms over the past eight years to improve the regulatory environment for doing business; key economies within the region have more than halved the time to start up a new business between 2003 and 2013 and the rising middle class in Brazil is increasingly educated, as reflected by a growth of tertiary education by 215% from 1998 to 2011.

Thus, the ingredients necessary to reveal the region’s full potential for wealth creation are provided for. Latin America today is one of the regions with the highest expected growth rates of wealthy individuals with the number of ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) expected to grow by 42% until 2023.

Fundamental shifts within the wealth management landscape

Latin American high net worth individuals (HNWI) are on average far wealthier than those in other regions (USD 13.5 million compared to e.g. European HNWIs with USD 3.3 million). The USD 2.66 trillion wealth management industry servicing this clientele is changing, evidenced by a shifting landscape of market participants. The drive towards localisation, the rise of transparency and the renewed role of cross-border banking accelerate the demand for a refined HNWI service offering, focused on a sophisticated understanding of client needs and circumstances, professionalism and accessibility. In light of this new environment, financial institutions such as dedicated private banks and professional external asset managers – if committed to adapting accordingly – will thrive given the dynamism and value that can be achieved from serving the region’s HNWIs.

Evolving investment behaviour

Latin American investors have become younger and more sophisticated over the past decades, resulting in an increasing risk appetite and a more diversified portfolio to achieve investment objectives. But cash, fixed income and real estate investments still represent 76% of average Latin American asset allocation today. Latin American economies, at the same time, are more integrated into the global economy today than ever before and thus more exposed to international economic cycles and global social trends. With total wealth in the region set to continue to grow, heightened exposure to external shocks and increased investor sophistication will lead to new investment behaviours. The growing middle classes are forced to think beyond their immediate consumption needs and to re-evaluate notions of saving, wealth protection, investment preferences and allocations, while considering systematic risks amongst others.

The inaugural ‘Julius Baer Industry Report Latin America’ was presented at the 35th anniversary of Julius Baer Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Ltd. in Nassau today. Gustavo Raitzin, Head Latin America and Israel and Member of the Executive Board, commented: “The ‘Julius Baer Industry Report Latin America’ reflects our dedication to guiding our clients through complexity by anticipating trends and jointly developing strategies to prepare for a prosperous future.”

Further information and the PDF of the report can be found on the right.