Lazard 175: Asset Management Comes Into Its Own
As we celebrate the 175th anniversary of Lazard's founding in 1848, we are commemorating this momentous occasion by highlighting some of the most celebrated episodes and leaders from the firm's history. Below, we share the story of the birth and development of Lazard's Asset Management business.
The roots of Lazard’s modern-day Asset Management business can be traced to the 1940s, when the firm managed investments for wealthy individuals, especially the leaders of companies that Lazard advised. This business proved successful, and in 1953, Lazard Investors Limited began operations in London. Lazard Paris began an asset management business in 1969, and one year later, Lazard Asset Management was formed in New York.
A sea change came in 1982. While Lazard was advising Oppenheimer & Co., Lazard Chairman Michel David-Weill became acquainted with the two executives running Oppenheimer’s institutional money management division, Norman Eig and Herb Gullquist. He recruited them to start an institutional asset management business focusing largely on U.S. pension funds, which at the time were moving assets en masse from commercial banks to independent money managers.
The mid-1980s brought another fortuitous development: the new Lazard team was asked by a client to manage a portfolio of exclusively international stocks, helping establish Lazard Asset Management as a leader in an area that was just about to take off as a major new asset class.
LAM’s assets increased from $5 billion in 1985 to more than $30 billion by 1995, fueled largely by its growing expertise in international investing. In 1990, Lazard expanded its international capabilities into emerging markets, launching its first stand-alone EM equity strategy in 1994.
In 1997, the London and New York asset management operations were combined, while keeping the Paris business – now known as Lazard Frères Gestion – autonomous. The firm’s assets under management had reached $77 billion by the time of the IPO in 2005.
In the following decades, under the leadership of Ashish Bhutani, the firm invested heavily to establish a truly diversified global asset management business. LAM added investment talent worldwide and expanded its offerings across asset classes and investment styles, surpassing $200 billion in assets under management in 2017.
Lazard Frères Gestion, meanwhile, prospered by maintaining its unique French and international culture while expanding in Western Europe. It continues to serve individuals and institutions with customized investment and wealth management solutions.
As Lazard’s Asset Management business has grown over the decades, it has stayed close to its roots, emphasizing intensive fundamental research, active management, and client service. The result is a unique global perspective with deep insight into local markets and a strong pattern of long-term performance for investors.