July 28, 2020 / 5:36 AM / 13 days ago

UPDATE 1-Vontobel extends mid-term targets, posts 4% half-year pre-tax profit rise

(Adds further detail, background)

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH, July 28 (Reuters) - Swiss wealth and asset manager Vontobel on Tuesday extended its financial targets through 2022 after increasing pre-tax profit by 4% in the first six months of 2020.

"Despite the difficult environment, we remain confident about the future development of Vontobel," Chief Executive Zeno Staub said in a statement. "We remain committed to our targets for the current year and we want to continue to deliver growth in this challenging market environment, as demonstrated by the ambitious targets that we will now pursue in the period up to 2022."

The bank said it would continue to target 4-6% annual net new money growth through 2022, as well as a shareholder target payout ratio of at least 50% and a cost/income ratio below 72%.

It generated fresh client inflows of a net 7.4 billion francs, a 7.5% growth rate above its 4-6% target range.

Its profit after tax decreased slightly to 129.2 million Swiss francs ($140.13 million), from 131.1 million francs the year before, following a 46% rise in tax expenses.

The bank in December said it was exiting its brokerage business to focus on buy-side investment management for wealthy and institutional clients.

On Tuesday, the bank said focusing on recurring client income provided stable margins and limited the risk of short-term exposure to markets, which has provided a boon for large wealth managers due to bumper trading during the coronavirus pandemic but which are expected to subside if clients become reticent of volatile stocks.

$1 = 0.9220 Swiss francs Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; editing by Thomas Seythal and Silke Koltrowitz

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