In the space of two years a boutique formed by an ex-Julius Baer banker has expanded globally, and recently set up shop in Geneva. It is looking at further growth, its head recently told this publication.
Azura, a global investment office working with family offices and ultra-high worth individuals, is planning to open more operations around the world, having launched an office in Geneva as recently as a month ago.
“We are looking at two more offices by the end of this year,” Ali Jamal, CEO and founder of Azura, told this news service in a recent call. His business oversees $2.7 billion in client assets. “We want to be in cities where we can scale our business; we need to be where our clients are.”
Jamal has been hiring teams from “Tier 1” banks, most recently for its Geneva office. The firm has about 35 people in total and it also has offices in London, Monaco and Singapore.
As he told WealthBriefing in July 2019, the former Julius Baer private banker created Azura to appeal to people seeking solutions, such as forms of collateralised credit, a service not always on offer from their existing banks, particularly in cases where lenders are squeezing balance sheets to protect capital. Such has been the tale since the financial tsunami of 2008.
Jamal launched Azura before COVID-19 and the disruption caused by the pandemic has only made his approach more relevant than ever, he said.
“We are able to move very quickly on executing private transactions by looking within the Azura client network as investors. For example, during the COVID period, we saw a clear synergy between two clients. We brought in one of our clients as an investor of another; the collective success of this deal is the differentiator for Azura, and we were able to make it happen as a private deal – as principle to principle,” he said.
Jamal said banks are starting to send Azura work because of the complexities involved.
The market for serving UHNW clients above the $250 million level remains full of potential. The business of serving those in the $10 million to $250 million bracket is becoming increasingly standardised, he said.
“We can become the family office for these [UHNW] kind of clients,” he said.
One of the added-value propositions of Azura is that it can pull on a network of clients who can support and work with each other in doing deals and investments, as well as helping them to access the balance sheets of a variety of banks, Jamal said.
“Banks don’t see us as competition but as a client they want to work with. We have very strong relationships and we’re proud of that.”
The new Geneva office is led by Frederic Turrettini, partner. Turrettini brings nearly three decades of experience advising UHNW and single family office clients globally. He has joined Azura from Credit Suisse, where he served as head of UHNW Swiss Romande and deputy head of UHNW Switzerland.
Earlier this month, the firm hired two partners to join its London office: Robert Agnew, former managing director for High Growth Founders and Investors at Barclays Private Bank, and Rahul Ahuja, who spent 12 years at Aviva's asset management business.