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Julius Baer advises clients to switch out of franc cash holdings

Monday, February 2, 2015 - 21:12
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Julius Baer Group Ltd is advising clients to switch out of Swiss franc cash accounts, saying it will refrain for now from emulating competitors by imposing new fees on such deposits.

[GENEVA] Julius Baer Group Ltd is advising clients to switch out of Swiss franc cash accounts, saying it will refrain for now from emulating competitors by imposing new fees on such deposits.

"We're turning to clients and discussing with them what are the opportunities to move away from cash Swiss franc balances," Boris Collardi, chief executive officer of Switzerland's third-largest wealth manager, said at a presentation in Zurich on Monday. He added that the company is monitoring how rivals are responding to new central bank charges.

Swiss lenders are reviewing their fees in response to the Swiss National Bank's decision last month to charge commercial banks 0.75 per cent on some deposits.

The SNB is trying to make francs less attractive to investors after abandoning its currency cap. The currency soared as much as 41 per cent against the euro after the surprise decision on Jan 15 and also gained against other major currencies. It was still up about 13 per cent versus the euro as of Feb 2.

UBS Group AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, said last month it will charge corporate and institutional clients for "large account balances." Credit Suisse Group AG, the country's second-largest lender, has said it will take similar action.

Cie Lombard, Odier SCA, Geneva's oldest bank, introduced new charges for clients with unmanaged accounts of more than 100,000 francs (US$108,000), in addition to the firm's standard custody fees. About 40 per cent of private clients who already pay more in return for the bank making investment decisions on their behalf won't be affected.

Zuercher Kantonalbank is also passing on the cost to some customers. Deutsche Bank AG's Swiss unit said last week it has taken "appropriate measures" to deal with the currency situation, without providing details.

Officials at Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc declined to comment on whether Swiss subsidiaries would pass on the cost of charges when contacted by Bloomberg News last week.

French banks BNP Paribas SA, Societe Generale SA and Credit Agricole SA and US lenders Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co didn't comment on their intentions for clients of Swiss units with franc deposits.

Officials at VP Bank AG, Banque Syz SA and BSI, a unit of Assicurazioni Generali SpA that's being acquired by Grupo BTG Pactual, said last week they haven't yet changed their pricing policy.

BLOOMBERG

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