Julius Baer

Julius Baer adds Matthews, promotes Lee

Macquarie's Mark Matthews jumps ship to Julius Baer, while his new boss at the Swiss boutique private bank, Dr Lee Boon Keng, gets a leg up.
Mark Matthews, Julius Baer

Julius Baer has strengthened its investment solutions group in Asia with two senior appointments. Mark Matthews joins the boutique Swiss private bank as head of research for Asia, while Lee Boon Keng has been appointed to sole head of the group.

Matthews, who started at Julius Baer on Monday, brings to his new role more than 18 years of experience in the financial sector. He was most recently at Macquarie where he was an Asia strategist working for Michael Kurtz, who heads pan-Asian strategy for Macquarie. Matthews used to publish reports under the title “Guanxi”. A source said he will not be replaced at Macquarie. Before he joined Macquarie, Matthews had also worked at ING Barings Securities, Standard & Poor’s and Merrill Lynch.

Lee earlier co-headed the investment solutions group (ISG) for Singapore alongside Venkatraman Anantha-Nageswaran. He joined Julius Baer in January last year from UBS, where he was chief investment strategist for Singapore. However, Lee had spent only three months at UBS when he was poached by Julius Baer. Before that, he spent nine years as a senior investment strategist at DBS.

“With Mark on board and Dr Lee helming the ISG Singapore division, we have a formidable ISG team in Asia,” said Kenneth Ho, deputy global head of ISG and head of products for Asia-Pacific, as well as a member of the Asia executive committee at Julius Baer. “This reinforces Julius Baer’s position to deliver premium advisory services to our clients, backed by a sound research team with in-depth market knowledge.”

Julius Baer is unveiling a strategy to make Asia its second home market, after Switzerland. Its Hong Kong operation was promoted into a full bank branch late last year and it plans to open its Shanghai representative office this year.

Last year, Julius Baer became the only private bank to be awarded a qualified foreign institutional investor (QFII) licence by the China Banking Regulatory Commission, allowing its clients to access the China onshore equity and bond markets. Last month, Julius Baer’s QFII quota was set at $100 million by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange in China (Safe). Earlier this year Julius Baer also applied for a Singapore trust business licence.

Despite its growth plans, Julius Baer has not been immune to the high staff turnover that is plaguing private banks in Asia. Last month, Andrea Benenati, Julius Baer’s Hong Kong chief executive and North Asia chief executive officer, announced he would be leaving the firm to set up as an independent asset manager. Joining Benenati is Alexander Floersheim who was part of the investment advisory services group in Hong Kong and something of a rising star in the firm.

Benenati, who joined the Swiss bank in 2006, was replaced by Tom Meier on an interim basis. Meier relocated from Singapore to take over Benenati’s portfolio in addition to his role as CEO for Asia and the Middle East.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.