27th June 2023


Sustainability as a strategic enabler

The recent turbulences in world affairs and finance have demonstrated the urgency of today’s major challenges. This has strengthened Julius Baer’s ambition to empower clients, employees, and broader stakeholder groups to have a positive impact.

The past 18 months have been challenging for the wealth management industry and its clients. In early 2022, war broke out in Europe for the first time in decades, geopolitical tensions rose, and inflation spiralled in economies across the world, contributing to increasing cost of living for most. While the effects of Covid-19 on our daily lives have significantly abated, the pandemic has left its mark in different sectors and across global supply chains. At the same time, extreme weather conditions are becoming increasingly frequent, illustrating existential issues for humanity such as climate change and inequalities, which have vital impacts not only on the environment but also on society.

To contribute to tackling these issues, Julius Baer follows a holistic approach to sustainability, which we continue to embed across our business. To understand current sustainability issues that may inform financial risks as well as our possible impact on society and the environment, we conducted a new materiality assessment in 2022. The 16 issues identified as most material to our company, with ‘climate change and low carbon’ as the most important issue in particular, broadly confirmed our sustainability strategy and provided insights into how we can further develop it. Addressing the overuse of natural resources and the underuse of human resources, our global sustainability strategy is a key enabler of our strategy for the new 2023– 2025 cycle.

As we aim to create value beyond wealth for our clients through responsible wealth management, we want to fulfil our obligations as a responsible citizen at the same time. As a wealth manager, it is crucial that Julius Baer provides its clients with all the credible information they need to make their own educated decisions and align their financial choices with their personal values. Not only have we identified sustainability as a growth and business opportunity, but it is also an excellent conversation starter, particularly as we aim to build bridges across generations. When our clients begin their sustainability journey, the starting point for us is always to identify what matters to them personally.

Empowering our clients for positive impact goes through responsible wealth management. In this area, we offer an ecosystem that starts with products and solutions but reaches beyond to incorporate our proprietary ESG investment rating methodology and sustainability portfolio reporting, our thematic research, and our activities in building up and fostering our client community and sharing knowledge on ESG matters.

2022 saw a significant expansion of the ESG investment rating methodology, whose rigorous scoring system covers bonds, equities and funds, and generates theme scores to classify them according to their ESG performance. To create connections, we bring together like-minded clients particularly interested in sustainability with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators. Hence, we built up our Sustainability Circle client community, organising events based on our Next Generation research themes, such as the circular economy or low-carbon in 2022. In the first half of 2023, we took the community to the global stage through events in São Paulo and Singapore, which focused on the crucial topic of future mobility. To support all these activities and to provide the best services to our clients, we give our employees access to education opportunities.

As a part of these efforts, we created the Sustainability Ambassador community. The community consists of over 200 senior relationship managers, investment advisors and portfolio managers, and is being further expanded. Prospective Ambassadors enrol in a two-day specialist sustainability training. We also recently conducted education sessions for client-facing employees dedicated to regulatory developments in sustainable finance, and we continue to offer education opportunities to all staff through an e-learning module on sustainability, as well as dedicated sessions on the topic in the context of our broader efforts to promote knowledge on ESG topics. These training activities are just one example of how responsible wealth management is intertwined with our activities as a corporate citizen. While ethical business conduct and risk management lay the foundation for our business activities, we aim to be an employer of choice to attract the best talents and provide services to our clients with care, passion and excellence – our corporate values.

A particular focus over the past 18 months has been on our climate strategy. As part of this strategy, we have defined net-zero emissions targets for our own operations as well as for our treasury, lending and mortgage books. Putting our words into action, we have considerably reduced greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations in comparison to our base year 2019. Additionally, we defined a stewardship strategy, encompassing voting and engagement, to enter a structured dialogue on climate actions with companies that we and our clients are invested in.

It is more important than ever to focus on proposing true responsible wealth management to our clients and act accordingly as a responsible citizen. The implementation of sustainability and ESG across business, citizenship and reporting activities is complex. Nevertheless, by working together with our key stakeholders – be it clients, employees, investors, peers, legislators or NGOs – we are convinced that we can contribute to achieving our common goal of tackling climate change and inequalities.

About Julius Baer

Julius Baer is the leading Swiss wealth management group and a premium brand in this global sector, with a focus on servicing and advising sophisticated private clients. In all we do, we are inspired by our purpose: creating value beyond wealth. At the end of 2022, assets under management amounted to CHF 424 billion. Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd., the renowned Swiss private bank with origins dating back to 1890, is the principal operating company of Julius Baer Group Ltd., whose shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker symbol: BAER) and are included in the Swiss Leader Index (SLI), comprising the 30 largest and most liquid Swiss stocks. Julius Baer is present in over 25 countries and around 60 locations. Headquartered in Zurich, we have offices in key locations including Bangkok, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Monaco, Mumbai, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Our client centric approach, our objective advice based on the Julius Baer open product platform, our solid financial base and our entrepreneurial management culture make us the international reference in wealth management.

For more information visit our website at www.juliusbaer.com