UPDATE 2-Julius Baer's best inflows since financial crisis lift shares

* Assets under management 355 bln Sfr end-H1, up 6 pct

* Net new money up annualised 6.1 pct in H1, ahead of target

* Adjusted net income 404 mln Sfr (Reuters poll 373 mln Sfr)

* Ex-Goldman banker Beatriz Sanchez named head of LatAm (Recasts with share price rise, adds CEO and analyst comment)

ZURICH, July 24 (Reuters) - Julius Baer reported its most successful six months of attracting new assets from wealthy clients since the financial crisis on Monday, helping its shares surge as much as 8 percent.

Baer's Chief Executive Boris Collardi struck an optimistic tone for the rest of 2017, but said it was too early to say whether the private banking market had turned a corner.

"If you ask me the question whether this is the new momentum, I think it's too early to say," Collardi told a news conference. "Let's wait now to see July and August."

Investors also welcomed rising revenues relative to costs and an improvement of a key capital ratio, making Julius Baer the top performer on the European banking sector index.

Some analysts had said before the latest rise that Baer's stock was already at a relative high compared with larger Swiss banking groups UBS and Credit Suisse based on the share price relative to its book value.

After growing its business through a string of acquisitions in recent years, Switzerland's third-largest private bank hired more than 100 bankers in 2016 to help gain new clients.

This helped it attract net new money, an indicator of future earnings in private banking, at an annualised rate of 6.1 percent of assets in the first half of 2017.

This was ahead of its 4-6 percent target range and its best performance since 2008.

More than half the new assets came from recently hired private bankers, Chief Financial Officer Dieter Enkelmann said.

Inflows were particularly high from Asia and the Middle East while Latin America returned to a positive contribution following withdrawals by clients for tax reasons.

"Julius Baer's 1H17 results are above expectations across the board," Bank Vontobel analyst Andreas Venditti, who rates the stock "hold", wrote in a note.

Shares were trading up 6.8 percent at 1009 GMT.


Overall, Baer's assets under management stood at 355 billion Swiss francs ($375.18 billion).

Adjusted net income unexpectedly remained steady year on year at 404 million francs, ahead of the poll average of 373 million francs.

Baer's CET1 capital ratio, a measure of balance sheet strength, was 11.9 percent compared to 10.6 percent at the end of 2016.

The bank also appointed Beatriz Sanchez, previously Goldman Sachs chairwoman for Latin American private wealth management, as its new head of Latin America, effective Dec. 15, taking over from Gustavo Raitzin. ($1 = 0.9462 Swiss francs) (Editing by Alexander Smith)