Mirabaud & Cie., the Geneva-based private bank established in 1819, said inflows from wealthy Spanish, Italian and Greek clients helped boost assets by about 4 percent this year.
“We have seen some new European clients coming to Switzerland to book their assets,” Yves Mirabaud, senior partner at the firm, said in an interview in Geneva. “They worry about the situation rightly or wrongly and want to have their assets booked in what they believe is a safer place.”
Assets under management will increase to 25 billion Swiss francs ($27 billion) from 24 billion francs at the end of 2011, Mirabaud said. He didn’t provide a figure for net inflows.
While a global crackdown on tax evasion has pushed American and European clients to repatriate funds from some Swiss banks, the Alpine country’s safe-haven status has lured other investors amid political upheaval in the Middle East and the euro region’s debt crisis. Mirabaud said the wealthy clients from southern Europe often ask to reinvest the money booked in Switzerland in equities in their home markets.
While a rebound in stock markets also boosted assets at Mirabaud this year, the private bank is only matching the 25 billion francs reported in 2007. In 2008, before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Mirabaud set a goal of doubling assets to 50 billion francs by 2015.
Swiss wealth managers are struggling to maintain profitability as clients shun riskier investments and the crackdown on tax evasion increases regulatory and compliance costs. While the Stoxx Europe 600 benchmark has climbed 13 percent this year, customers are investing less in equities amid concerns about the debt crisis, Mirabaud said.
“Clients are much more conservative, much more cautious than they were in the 2000s,” he said. “This year, even with positive markets, there is very low volume, trading, or transactions.”
That is putting pressure on remuneration and means the bank will hire fewer people, said Mirabaud. Still, the influx of new clients has increased management fees, he said.