Julius Baer sets up Hong Kong office as Swiss private bank follows super-rich clients eyeing investment visas, tax concessions

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  • ‘We have existing clients who have already set up family offices here and we have seen plenty more who are exploring the opportunity,’ a senior executive says
  • The Zurich-based private bank will officially open its Quarry Bay office on April 19 to better serve its wealthy clients

16 April 2023Hong Kong’s newest tax concessions and investment migration scheme are boosting the city’s allure for a lot of wealthy clients at Julius Baer. That is a strong incentive for the Swiss private bank to set up a new office to better serve its customers.

“We have existing clients who have already set up family offices here and we have seen plenty more who are exploring the opportunity,” Eleanor Yuen Man-suet, managing director and head of wealth planning of Julius Baer, said in an interview with the Post. “I often meet clients who are very interested in learning how to obtain residency in Hong Kong. They are not just from the Greater Bay Area, but people from around the globe.”

The wealth manager for ultra high-net-worth clients will officially open its new office in Quarry Bay, on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island, on April 19 as part of its expansion to leverage on the vast opportunities in family offices.

Eleanor Yuen Man-Suet (left), head of wealth planning for Asia-Pacific, and David Shick, head of private banking for Greater China at Julius Baer’s office in Quarry Bay. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Eleanor Yuen Man-Suet (left), head of wealth planning for Asia-Pacific, and David Shick, head of private banking for
Greater China at Julius Baer’s office in Quarry Bay. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The Zurich-based firm managed 424 billion Swiss francs (US$478 billion) of clients’ money globally at the end of 2022, according to its annual results. Its operations in Asia represented a quarter of its global business.

Hong Kong last month unveiled a slew of measures aimed at persuading super-rich families worldwide to set up their operations in the city. They included a refreshed investment-migration programme, tax breaks and the creation of art-storage facilities at the airport. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu last October said the city aimed to lure 200 top family offices by 2025.

Family offices are set up by wealthy families or individuals to invest their fortunes, manage their ­succession plans or pursue their philanthropic endeavours.

Hong Kong has always been a favourite city in Asia for family offices due to its low tax regime and deep pool of talent, said David Shick, head private banking for Greater China at Julius Baer. The city also has some unique roles, chiefly as a gateway to mainland China, he said.

“The talent pool in Hong Kong is just incredible with a very highly educated population and a very diverse mix of talent,” he added. “The government’s newly announced measures will further enhance the role for Hong Kong as a hub for family offices.”

Julius Baer, which uses Singapore as its regional headquarters, also sees Hong Kong as a major centre. Many wealthy families have operations in both cities due to their respective advantages. Hong Kong offers a gateway into mainland China, while Singapore performs the role in Southeast Asia, Shick said.

Yuen said Hong Kong’s decision to revive the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme will enhance the city’s appeal. The scheme offers residency visas to key executives in family offices that invest a certain amount of money in local stocks, bonds or other assets.

She said new super-rich families will be more interested in succession planning, while the more established family offices would be more interested in arts, philanthropy as well as investments that meet environmental, social and governance ideals.

“They would like to know how to pass on the legacy to the next generations, and how to set up a governance framework around it,” Yuen said of the former. They would be keen to know how to ensure long-term success, she said, referring to the popular Chinese saying that wealth will not pass beyond three generations.

Among other new measures, Hong Kong has also agreed to set up an academy to train the local workforce to serve wealthy family offices.

“Imagine each family office will need to employ 10 staff to run them, we are talking about a lot of people and talents,” Yuen added. “There is a pressing need to nurture people in areas such as accountancy and investments. At the same time, other centres are competing for these talents.”

Image by: Pixabay

 

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