Swiss private bank Lombard Odier's 2016 profits fall, assets rise

ZURICH, March 9 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Lombard Odier pulled in more money from its customers in 2016, but its profits fell as a result of more subdued client activity.

Lombard Odier Group on Thursday said net profit fell 13 percent to 124.5 million Swiss francs ($122.7 million).

Client assets rose 4 percent to 233 billion Swiss francs. Net inflows of 5.2 billion francs and rising financial markets helped to compensate for the effects of a strong Swiss franc, the Geneva-based bank said.

“The rise in client assets in 2016 is positive in what was a challenging market,” Senior Managing Partner Patrick Odier said.

Wealthy clients of private banks, wary of financial market volatility, are keeping more of their wealth in cash, which means many private banks are earning less from fees and transactions from their clients’ trading activities.

The wealth management division of UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, saw its transaction-based income fall to a record low in the fourth quarter.

Odier said the bank continued to hire experienced bankers and portfolio managers to develop its private client business. “Our cost/income ratio remains high as a result of continued investments which should increase revenues in the medium term,” he said.

$1 = 1.0143 Swiss francs Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi. Editing by Jane Merriman