Best for ESG investing in India 2023
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Best for ESG investing in India 2023

Julius Baer

Umang Papneja, Julius Baer India.jpeg
Umang Papneja, Julius Baer India

Swiss private bank Julius Baer has provided wealth management services to clients for over a century. In India, it has made impressive strides to become one of the leading and largest international private banks, with assets under management of about $20 billion.

In recent years, it has doubled down on the India franchise. Between 2017 and 2021, Julius Baer doubled the size of its India onshore assets under management; then in January 2022, it unveiled a five-year India business transformation strategy.

To achieve its goals, it set up a global desk for non-resident Indians early last year, as well as a global India referral programme. It gave further impetus to its in-house portfolio management services offerings – assets under management grew 60% between March and June 2022 – while its AUM for discretionary portfolio management in India tripled between December 2021 and August 2022.

Julius Baer has also invested in its people. Rahul Malhotra was appointed head of global India and developed markets in 2021, veteran banker Umang Papneja was hired to be its new India CEO in July 2022, and the bank added another 50 full-time employees towards the end of the year, including team heads and bankers, to drive its business further.

Papneja and his team say that India’s private banking market provides plenty of opportunities and is under-penetrated.

Julius Baer certainly has an edge. Its global expertise, network, and solid track record across all aspects of wealth management – including solutions for high or ultra-high net-worth clients, digital penetration, discretionary investment options, investment research, philanthropy and the next generation – are unrivalled.

In the past year, it is Julius Baer’s focus on India’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) market that has attracted particular attention. ESG investment is still in the early stages in India, despite plenty of focus from government bodies and regulators. But Julius Baer is on the right side of ESG and uses its global systems for the domestic market.

That means using its internal evaluation tools to analyze investment options and their ESG credentials, look at the fundamentals and marry the two from an ESG angle. This could mean dropping coverage of a firm with solid fundamentals if it doesn’t tick all the necessary ESG boxes.

The aim is to create long-term value for wealthy clients, raise their awareness about ESG metrics and do so in a transparent way. With this approach, all of Julius Baer’s equity research reports carry the ESG rating from MSCI.

The importance Julius Baer places on ESG is clear to all kinds of clients, including the next generation set. For this group, the Swiss firm has identified five future themes, including energy transition, feeding the world and shifting lifestyles (the other two are emerging Asia and digital disruption).

Through this, Julius Baer gives next-gens an opportunity to invest in long-term structural growth trends, while distinguishing good growth from bad. As a result, its portfolio weightage for its next-gen solution is split roughly 65% for technology and healthcare, and over 20% for food security. A clear indication of ESG investing.