Julius Baer is to relocate Thomas Meier, its CEO for Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, from Zurich to Singapore on July 1. Meier's impending move from the private bank's headquarters to Asia reflects its growing commitment to emerging markets plus the growing importance of this region when it comes to wealth generation.

Julius Baer CEO Boris Collardi says Meier will be based in Singapore so he can directly oversee the expansion of the private bank's operations in emerging markets, particularly in Asia. The private bank has a headcount of more than 200 in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Meier has been with Julius Baer since 2005 and has been involved in positioning the private bank as a key player in the wealth management industry in the emerging markets. He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of private banking and has held various senior positions in Asia during his career.

Julius Baer has been selectively building its team in the region, while other banks have been cutting back on their private banking businesses. Last month, Julius Baer appointed Thio Tjia-Hin and Cindy Tang as senior relationship managers in Singapore to help develop the bank's client base in the Southeast Asian market.

The US-led global financial crisis has significantly cut the net worth of the ultra-rich in the US and in Europe, but not as much in Asia. When it released the findings of its Asia-Pacific Wealth report last year, Merrill Lynch stood firm in its projection that assets of high-net-worth individuals in Asia-Pacific will grow at an annual rate of 7.9% to reach $13.9 trillion by 2012.

Asia's ultra-rich individuals are considered generally resilient and are expected to survive the crisis in relatively good shape. This is partly because a significant portion of the wealth accumulated by rich Asians comes from corporate profits and dividends, which are not suffering as badly. The Merrill Lynch report cited China, India, Vietnam and Thailand as having the best opportunities for wealth managers who are targeting emerging high-net-worth individuals.