Boris Collardi: «You Should Never Be Satisfied»

Boris Collardi,CEO Julius Baer

Boris Collardi wants to keep his bankers on their toes, a boss should never be satisfied, the bank's chief executive, told in anexclusive interview.

Mister Collardi, Asian stock markets have had a difficult start to the year. What effects will the declining prices have on Julius Baer?

It was already known that the renminbi would devalue, that the Chinese stock market was expensively priced and the oil price sliding. So, fundamentally, there is nothing new. The declines in stock prices of the beginning of the year were rather a reflection of a rapidly worsening investor sentiment. That's why I'm convinced that we'll see a recovery soon. With Jimmy Lee in charge in Asia, we are very well positioned.

Why did you change the management in Asia?

The former head of Asia, Tom Meier, had already said a year before last that he wanted to return to Switzerland, and as we're eager to find long-term solutions, we started looking for an adequate successor. You won't find them in a supermarket. You need time and intuition to find the right person.

What do you expect of the new Asia boss?

After ten years with the same management, the pace tends to get more leisurely. That's when you need to freshen things up. Jimmy Lee needs to set new energies free, create a momentum, define new goals for his staff and make structural adjustments to put the bank in shape to ride the next growth wave.

Jimmy Lee also has his own network, which equally is a good thing for the bank. I didn't intend to kick off a revolution, but create the conditions to enable adjustments, but also in principal confirm the strategy so far.

You conceded that net new money in Asia could flow more abundantly. What did you do wrong?

We didn't do anything wrong. But as a boss, you should never be entirely satisfied. If I said, everything is great, people would stop trying to get better. That's why you constantly have to make new demands.

And that's why you, or rather Julius Baer, are regularly mentioned a potential buyers of other banks?

Of course we study the files of banks that want to sell. At the moment though we see more opportunities to grow organically.

What does that mean in practice?

There are more and more unhappy bankers in Asia, looking for new jobs because of reorganizations, cost savings and other changes. We see an enormous potential to increase our presence there. This way of growth is worth every penny.

How often do you travel to Asia?

Last year, I was in Asia every sixth to eighth week. You have to be present if you call the region your second home market. This year, I expect to travel four to six times to Asia, not least because we'll experience a change of paradigm in financial markets over the coming 12 months.

How do you mean?

Over the past years, customers got used to steady growth on the markets, fueled by numerous monetary policy measures by central banks. The end of these state interventions in the markets is becoming more and more apparent. This will increase volatility markedly.

We've seen the evidence of this in the past weeks. A lot of investors were surprised about the recent declines. But fluctuations of prices of five to ten percent are normal. People simply forgot about them over the past couple of years.


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