The office will employ seven local professionals in South Africa’s largest city, of which five will be relationship managers who are joining from RMB Private Bank, Barclays Africa (Absa) and Nedbank.
The firm said that the new office will allow Julius Baer to offer “fully licensed investment advice” to private clients in South Africa, with access to advisory and investment solutions.
Daniel Savary, head of Middle East and Africa at Julius Baer, said: “On the African continent, South Africa has the largest high net worth individual population [according to a recent report]– and it is a growing market.
“We are delighted to be able to provide them with our advice and help them to develop investment solutions based on our in-house expertise and our open product platform.”
Julius Baer is the second Swiss bank to enter the country in recent weeks, following Lombard Odier’s decision to set up shop in South Africa.
Rémy Bersier, head of emerging markets at Julius Baer, added: “As part of our focused growth strategy, we have identified South Africa as one of the markets we want to invest in.
“It does offer promising potential, which we want to develop over the long term, with our local team and the support of Julius Baer’s specialists around the world.”
However, not all financial institutions see South Africa as a “growing market”. Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank have both announced plans to scale back in the country within the last year.
Commenting on the market, South Africa-based Scott Campbell, group managing director and chief investment officer at Miton Optimal, told International Adviser: “The [discretionary fund management] business is very large. It is highly regulated. It is a very developed financial services industry.
“The authorities in South Africa are just implementing the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), (a set of rules aimed at introducing more transparency and fairness in the investment industry) where they have not changed the name from the UK.
“So, there is a whole RDR-focus about to be introduced into South Africa in the next couple of years.
“The domestic market in South Africa is a pretty developed market and once RDR has been rolled out then the regulation is just as sophisticated as the UK.
“There is also a whole new wealth demographic coming through, which was not there 20 years ago, and needs to be managed at a private wealth level.”