ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer will freeze hiring for non relationship manager positions after higher costs and lower client activity triggered a 26% drop in first half earnings. The bank, which competes with UBS and Credit Suisse in managing the investments of ultra wealthy clients, said on Monday it would accelerate "cost discipline" in the second half of the year after its cost/income ratio rose to 67% from 61% a year earlier. Chief Executive Philipp Rickenbacher said there were no immediate plans for lay-offs at the bank which has seen its headcount rise by 71 people this year, to 6,798 staff by the end of June.
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Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer has halted any new business with wealthy Russians, two sources familiar with the bank's operations said, as European lenders try to limit their exposure to Russia's elite amidst tightening sanctions. Wealth managers in Europe have sought to distance themselves from the economic and political fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Julius Baer this week began blocking any new business with Russian clients, the people said. The European Union last week imposed sanctions blocking Russian citizens and residents from making new deposits above 100,000 euros ($109,160) into European bank accounts.