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Julius Baer appoints insider Philipp Rickenbacher as CEO

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Switzerland's third-largest listed bank looked at an array of internal and external candidates before deciding on Mr Rickenbacher, according to its chairman Romeo Lacher.

Zurich

JULIUS Baer has appointed Philipp Rickenbacher as its new chief executive officer, the Swiss private bank said on Monday, opting for a company insider to drive the wealth manager's future growth.

His appointment is the latest leadership change among Switzerland's wealth managers, who seek to preserve and increase the assets of rich clients. Credit Suisse appointed Philipp Wehle as the head of its international wealth management business after Iqbal Khan quit last week.

Swiss wealth managers are fighting to win new customers in emerging markets as Europe slows, but face increasingly volatile financial markets and new competitors.

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Switzerland's third-largest listed bank looked at an array of internal and external candidates before deciding on Mr Rickenbacher, chairman Romeo Lacher told reporters.

He declined to comment whether Mr Khan had been a contender for the post. "This is the outcome of a careful evaluation process of internal and external candidates and we are especially proud of having a very strong bench of several internal candidates," Mr Lacher said. "We do not discuss our evaluation process in public."

Mr Khan had been said to be a contender for CEO position at Julius Baer, speculation which was heightened when he suddenly quit Credit Suisse last week "to pursue other opportunities".

Mr Lacher said he was convinced that Mr Rickenbacher was the best candidate for the job. The 48-year-old Swiss citizen, currently head of intermediaries and global custody at Julius Baer, will replace Bernard Hodler, who is retiring as CEO and the board.

Julius Baer, which manages assets of 427 billion Swiss francs (S$586 billion), has been seeking a successor for Mr Hodler, its former risk chief who took over at the Zurich-based group when predecessor Boris Collardi abruptly left in 2017 to run unlisted rival Pictet.

The bank said Mr Hodler would remain with the bank to ensure a smooth transition in to 2020, before pursuing other projects.

Mr Rickenbacher, a former consultant at McKinsey, joined Julius Baer in 2004 where he also had a stint as head of advisory solutions.

"We are delighted that, with Philipp Rickenbacher, we have been able to appoint an internal candidate with a compelling leadership and industry track record, deeply familiar with Julius Baer's culture and business, but prepared to actively address the challenges of the future," Mr Lacher said.

The chairman said the time was not right for a detailed strategy update, saying the bank would stick to its financial targets.

Julius Baer is due to report its half-year results on July 22. REUTERS