Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc’s Swiss wealth- management unit added client assets and recruited bankers last year after attracting customers from outside the U.K.
Assets under management rose by a “low double-digit percentage” to almost 18 billion Swiss francs ($18.9 billion) in 2011, including some funds booked outside Switzerland, said Patrick Ramsey, who heads Barclays Bank Suisse SA.
The firm plans to hire more Swiss-based relationship managers this year after increasing the number servicing wealthy private clients by 14 to 57 in 2011. Barclays is targeting Latin America, Africa and Russia as it expands beyond its traditional base of non-U.K. domiciled clients.
“Switzerland is one of the main hubs for the growth of Barclays in the future,” Ramsey told reporters today in Geneva. “If we can find the talent, we can end the year with 70 to 80 bankers.”
Barclays, like other Swiss private banks, is seeing pressure on the profit it earns from client funds, Ramsey said.
“We’re living in a margin-squeeze environment because the cost of servicing has increased tremendously,” he said. “Most firms are starting to offer at a product level more or less the same thing,” and that’s pushing down fees, he said.
The bank is trying to persuade clients to share its “cautious degree of optimism” for 2012, said New York-based Aaron Gurwitz, chief investment officer of Barclays Wealth.
“We have so many clients who are afraid because they see the day-to-day volatility,” he said. “We want to avoid a generation of investors who are afraid of equities.”
The MSCI World Index fell 7.6 percent in 2011. The benchmark of developed market stocks is up 1.9 percent this year as economic reports from around the globe generated optimism the global economy can withstand the euro area’s debt crisis.
Barclays, the U.K.’s largest wealth manager, managed 169.5 billion pounds ($260 billion) for private clients globally at the end of June.
--Editors: Dylan Griffiths, Steve Bailey.
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