Spanner in the Works at Julius Baer

Julius Baer, Boris Collardi, Barend Fruithof, reorganization

Julius Baer CEO Boris Collardi (Picture: Keystone) wasn’t entirely wrong in the past to criticize CEO Boris Collardi for pursuing an opaque or difficult to discern strategy at Julius Baer. This was illustrated again on Tuesday, when Collardi reorganized the bank along give regions, including Europe and emerging markets.

Services such as business with intermediaries will be embedded in the new structure. The reason for such a major reorganization isn't immediately clear.

Forceful Fruithof

Observers are inevitably left with the impression that Collardi felt backlash from those who resisted the forceful changes set by Barend Fruithof, the Swiss boss who sought to give Baer more momentum in the hotly-contested domestic market.

It also shows that Collardi factors in a certain personnel churn, which is exactly what is happening now with Fruithof, who leaves the bank with immediate effect due to the restructuring. The Swiss boss wasn’t available for comment. 

Differences of Opinion

Parting a high-profile private banking job after just nine months indicates serious differences of opinion – especially since Fruithof was particularly active in his short time with Julius Baer.

The changes implemented by Fruithof – sharpening Baer's profile at home, hiring several key private bankers, and setting clear unit targets – weren't welcomed everywhere in the bank.

This will have presumably made it easier for Collard to dispense of Fruithof in the reorganization.

Trusted Associates

Undoubtedly, CEO Collardi is under pressure on several fronts. Among his problems is a bleak financial market, which indicates that Baer’s stock has little impetus to move higher. This would ease Collardi’s burden enormously. In view of the fact that Baer’s net new money growth also isn’t stellar at the moment, it represents an additional strain.

Out of what he feels is necessity Collardi has, in typical bustling fashion, reorganized the bank again. He has surrounded himself with trusted associates including Yves Robert-Charrue, Remy Bersier, Gustavo Raitzin, Gian A. Rossi, and Nic Dreckmann. He has also factored in the departure of several key executives as a result.

Ex-Asia Head Absent

It is of particular note that former Asia head Thomas Meier, who was ordered back to Switzerland less than one year ago, doesn't come out of Collard’s most recent restructuring with a key role.

The new structure has at least one advantage: it makes it harder to draw comparisons to Baer’s past.

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