Business

Northern Ireland 'has truly advantageous position in Europe and the world' says wealth manager

David Durlacher (right), managing director and chief executive of Julius Baer International, with the wealth management firm's regional head Jonathan Dobbin
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NORTHERN Ireland “has a truly advantageous position not just within Europe but within the world, which its companies now have the ability to benefit from”, a leading global wealth manager believes.

And he says he is “very optimistic” about the longer-term economic future for businesses in the north, especially given the adaptability of its people towards a more sustainable economy.

David Durlacher, managing director and chief executive of Swiss private bank and wealth manager Julius Baer International, was speaking to the Irish News as he visited the group's Belfast office at Bedford House, which has been operating since the end of 2017.

He spoke of a shift to health not wealth - or what he believes is a stronger focus on personal health and on ensuring affairs are in order and that the legacy of family wealth is preserved.

But he also praised the resilience and adaptability at the core of the north's economy as it tip-toes out of the pandemic and, without directly referencing the Protocol, talked of the opportunities which currently exist.

He said: “I'm not a political commentator. But having seen political situations around the world, politics will always be with us, in whichever jurisdiction we operate. The big question is how politics interacts with economics.

“What companies have to do, regardless of the political noise, is to think through it and try to work out how to still find competitive advantage, and those companies which have succeeded through this pandemic, or for the last 10 years, or indeed for the last 100 years, have all been able to find an ability not just to survive but to adapt and succeed.

“There are businesses in Northern Ireland in areas like cyber security and fintech which now hold a leadership role on a global scale. The region is also pulling above its weight in green energy, in gaming and creative industries, in smart materials and precision manufacturing.

“So I see this region as being uniquely placed in its location between the UK and the EU. Yes, there will be political issues which merit discussion. But economically, longer-term, Northern Ireland has got a real position not just within Europe but within the world that companies here have the ability to take advantage of.”

Jonathan Dobbin, head of UK Regions and managing director/senior adviser for Julius Baer in Northern Ireland, said: “We've stayed on the front foot throughout this pandemic. Our clients knew the world wasn't going to end and we'd emerge stronger, and indeed certain parts of the global economy were turbo-charged during Covid.

“Two of the big sectors in our portfolio were IT and healthcare, both of which have benefitted hugely from Covid. And a derivative of that has been that our clients are benefitting too.”

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