As one of the founding partners of Formula E, it’s no surprise that Julius Baer remains enthusiastic about the success of his engagement with the all-electric single-seater series. The Swiss-based banking institution has been providing wealth management services and investment advice to its clients for more than 130 years, and its partnership with Formula E has proven mutually beneficial in the series’ journey to becoming a full-fledged world championship for the 2020-21 campaign. .
The origin story of Formula E is well known. But once series founder Alejandro Agag and then-FIA President Jean Todt drew up plans for a restaurant napkin in March 2011, there was a problem funding that vision. They were looking for a forward-thinking partner who was willing to buy into their pioneering mantra and give them the credibility to approach OEMs. On both counts, Julius Baer did the trick.
The acquisition in 2012 of the international wealth management business of Merrill Lynch was a major step for Julius Baer. Marco Parroni, head of global brand programs, partnerships and sponsorship, said it “completely changed the size of the bank, as it also became much more international”. When Swiss-Italian automotive industry veteran Parroni joined Julius Baer in 2013 from Ferrari, he was tasked with finding a top-notch global platform to build brand awareness that also shared the bank’s values. . After receiving a PowerPoint presentation from Agag, he felt that Formula E was “the perfect combination because it was new, with a lot of risks, but also a lot of advantages”.
“Julius Baer is well known as a bank with values such as innovation, sustainability and forward-looking pioneering spirit,” he says. “Formula E came at the right time, because that was exactly what was hugely important to us – a global platform to promote electric mobility for a better and more sustainable future. These are the elements that convinced us to to invest in and support Formula E at an early stage.”
This was not without risk, given that there was no data to back up this hunch. But for Julius Baer, his show of faith demonstrated “not just a vision but created a point of proof” of his mantra, according to Parroni. “It’s not [enough] just to say we see the trends, we also invest in the trends,” he says. “Formula E is for us a great story that we can have when advising clients, showing that Julius Baer can anticipate trends in which it is worth investing in. Formula E creates our credibility.”
This confidence was justified by a successful first event in Beijing in 2014, which proved the viability of the concept and hinted at a bright future. Parroni reflects fondly on seeing the Julius Baer brand front and center at Monaco in 2015 – “We walked the runway and thought, ‘It’s a big step for Julius Baer to be here’ — and on the “dream come true” achievement in 2018 of hosting an international motor race in Zurich, Julius Baer’s home market of Switzerland, 63 years after the 1955 Le Mans tragedy that led to the banning of motorsport in the country.
Alejandro Agag with Julius Baer’s representative Marco Parroni
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport footage
“The race was in the heart of the city, it was the biggest highlight in Julius Baer’s Formula E history,” Parroni recalled. “We were proud that for the first time the major sponsorship project of Julius Baer was brought to Switzerland. At first it was so risky to support, but the race was sold out. All the elements were there.
Formula E has come a long way since those early days of mid-race car swaps, with the highly anticipated Gen3 era of faster, lighter and increasingly durable cars on the horizon. And the contribution of Julius Baer was also important. In 2017, Parroni was officially brought into the inner circle of the Championship’s Global Advisory Board. In it, he discusses the technology and sporting roadmap with other key stakeholders “to help Formula E develop and grow in the right direction”. It’s something he’s very proud of, but a responsibility he bears deeply.
Parroni is clear that Formula E is facing challenges, following the withdrawal of heavy hitters Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But, with the Stellantis group bringing Maserati to the Gen3 party, he is optimistic that the future of Formula E will live up to the championship’s history of success in a world that is increasingly accepting a once considered message. as radically disruptive.
“It’s important that Formula E remains a benchmark in electric motorsport for OEMs,” Parroni said. “Gen3 is taking it to the next level and Formula E wants to show how the technology can evolve and then be transferred to road cars. In the past, Formula 1 was exactly that, which is why it attracted so many OEMs. Formula E must do the same.
Whatever the future of Formula E, Parroni isn’t ruling out the prospect of an F1 merger as the electric series’ exclusive FIA license extends until 2039
“It was unfortunate to see BMW, Audi and Mercedes announce that they were leaving Formula E. Formula E is still a young motorsport discipline and when you see the strategy of the suppliers, it is 100% electric. Formula E technology is exactly the technology you will find on the road car.
“Now, with Gen3, Formula E needs to demonstrate that it is heading in the right direction and that it is important to be part of this evolution. The Stellantis group will be electric by 2027, so it makes perfect sense that the equipment manufacturers are in Formula E.”
Whatever the future of Formula E, Parroni isn’t ruling out the prospect of an F1 merger given that the electric series’ exclusive FIA license extends until 2039. And with the bank in its corner for at least this season and the next, the world championship, which also wishes to increase its influence and its relevance, has a lawyer of the first hour at its side.
Julius Baer continues to support Formula E
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport pictures