ZURICH (Reuters) - Private bank Julius Baer, Switzerland's third largest listed lender, posted a 4 percent rise in full-year reported net profit and announced the launch of 100 million franc cost reduction programme.
For the full year, net profit under IFRS accounting standards rose to 735 million Swiss francs (563.86 million pounds). Analysts polled by Reuters on average had expected 772 million Swiss francs in full-year net earnings.
The Zurich-based bank for wealthy and affluent clients brought in 17 billion francs in net new money in 2018, a growth rate of 4.5 percent at the lower end of its 4-6 percent medium-term target range.
The bank on Monday kept that target, but lowered its cost-income and pre-tax margin goals.
"The Group will lower expenses by 100 million francs by further enhancing market focus and related prioritisation of resource allocation; leveraging automation and digitalisation; and applying stricter performance management," Baer said in a statement. "This will by the end of 2019 lead to a net reduction in the group's headcount of 2 percent compared to the end of 2018."
Julius Baer said it aimed to achieve a cost-income ratio below 68 percent by 2020, assuming no meaningful detoriation relative to average 2018 market conditions, from previously 64-68 percent. An increase in the ratio marks reduced profitability over costs. In 2018, it missed its goal, with an adjusted ratio of 70.6 percent.
The bank said it would propose a dividend of 1.50 francs per share, compared to 1.40 francs for 2017.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)