Lazard Asset Management Review - MagnifyMoney
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Lazard Asset Management Review

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Lazard Asset Management serves thousands of individuals and institutions as the asset management arm of the global financial services firm Lazard. This specific division is based in New York with additional offices in Boston, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. The division’s nearly 500 employees are part of a global group, however, that works across 25 offices in 15 countries in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

The bottom line: Lazard Asset Management manages the portfolios of thousands of individuals, families and institutions.

  • Global affiliates provide international investment research and ideas
  • Clients who are not high net worth individuals can access the firm’s model portfolios and mutual funds
  • Financial planning is not a focus of the firm

All information included in this profile is accurate as of October 21, 2021. For more information, please consult Lazard Asset Management’s website.

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Overview of Lazard Asset Management

The Lazard brothers opened a dry goods company in 1848, which eventually became the brand known today as Lazard Freres & Co. LLC. The asset management division was established in 1970 and became a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Today, Lazard Asset Management is indirectly owned by Lazard Ltd., which is a Bermuda company that trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange.

Lazard Asset Management has nearly 500 employees, including over 240 who focus on investment advisory and research. Together, the team manages roughly $168 billion in assets under management, which does not include accounts using the team’s model portfolios or asset class allocation recommendations. The team has affiliates around the globe who provide investment research and ideas in their local areas.

Lazard Asset Management’s pros

  • Proprietary local and global research: The firm generates its own in-house research that is not shared with others. Since it has affiliate offices around the globe, the team receives internal research and investment ideas focusing on many parts of the world.
  • Dozens of internal strategies and products: Lazard Asset Management has a long list of strategies, many of which narrowly target a specific sector such as International Quality Growth, Global Discounted Assets, Emerging Markets Managed Volatility, Japanese Strategic Equity and even a convertible arbitrage and event-driven strategy.
  • Offers products for middle-income clients: Like many registered investment advisors, to invest directly in one of the firm’s strategies can require upwards of $5 million. However, Lazard Asset Management also offers options for the non-wealthy. Clients with less than $1 million to invest can still access the firm through the wrap programs, model portfolios and mutual funds it offers through other brokers and financial institutions.
  • Clean disciplinary record: The firm reports no legal or disciplinary blemishes. See below for more details on this.

Lazard Asset Management’s cons

  • No financial planning services: Lazard Asset Management focuses on managing client’s portfolios, not providing financial planning services. Thus, clients looking for help with, say, planning for retirement, funding education bills or passing wealth on to the next generation likely should look elsewhere.
  • Limited to proprietary products: The firm offers its own strategies, models and wrap portfolios. Clients cannot access the products of other firms, which may have lower fees or better performance records.
  • Potential conflicts of interest: Employees receive compensation to sell products, creating a potential conflict of interest as they may be financially incentivized to make certain recommendations. What’s more, advisors may also recommend clients purchase a mutual fund managed by Lazard Asset Management.
  • Incentive to take risks: The firm can earn performance fees, where its entitled to a set percentage of an account’s gains. This arrangement can motivate advisors to make riskier investments than they otherwise would in the hope of generating larger gains.
  • Pays for referrals: The firm pays nine parties to refer clients to Lazard Asset Management. Thus, anytime the firm is referred to you, dig into why it is being recommended and whether it is a good match for you.

What types of clients does Lazard Asset Management serve?

Lazard Asset Management serves a broad array of clients, including both individuals and institutions.

On the individual side, the firm reports thousands of individual and family clients. About 14% of these individuals are considered to be high net worth. (For reference, the SEC defines high net worth as clients with at least $750,000 to invest or a net worth of more than $1.5 million.) As for institutions, the firm serves many types, such as businesses, charitable foundations, banking institutions, endowments, foundations, government entities and other investment advisors, among others.

How much the firm requires clients to invest varies by the type of investment and the relationship. For example, to work directly with the firm, the minimum investment can range from $5 million for institutional U.S. equity accounts, to as much as $100 million for emerging markets debt strategies. On the other end of the spectrum, families with less than $1 million to invest may participate in a wrap fee program with Lazard Asset Management managing the funds. For a registered open-end mutual fund managed by Lazard Asset Management, clients can invest as little as $2,500.

Services offered by Lazard Asset Management

Lazard Asset Management manages the portfolios of individuals and institutions. Clients can access the firm directly through its strategies, or through its wrap programs or model portfolios offered through other brokers and financial institutions. Direct clients periodically attend meetings where Lazard Asset Management’s current economic outlook, investment strategy and view on various industries and specific companies are presented.

The firm also advises many investment companies and private funds, including hedge funds.

The team recognizes that a company’s environmental, social and governance practices can impact its valuation and performance. Thus, these factors are taken into consideration as investment decisions are made. For clients specifically interested in aligning their investments with their values, the firm offers strategies that incorporate these considerations in their investment policies.

Here is a complete rundown of services offered:

  • Portfolio management
  • Meetings presenting the group’s internal view
  • Insights into a company’s environmental, social and governance values

How Lazard Asset Management invests your money

Most of the firm’s assets under management are handled through discretionary relationships, meaning clients give their advisors the power to place trades in their accounts without first needing to sign off every individual transaction.

Portfolio management teams are responsible for making investment decisions for their own clients. No firm-wide recommendations are implemented. Thus, one portfolio management team’s advice may differ from that of other teams. When coming up with recommendations, the advisory teams factor in the individual’s objectives, restrictions and guidelines, as well as other relevant information such as additional assets or income from other sources.

The team does not offer purely passive investment strategies. Active management is used for its strategies, which include equity, fixed income and alternatives. Specific sector strategies include:

  • Global, regional and international equity
  • U.S. equity
  • U.S. and global fixed income
  • Emerging markets equity and debt

A number of alternative products are used as well, such as emerging market currency and debt and long/short equity, among others.

The strategies include myriad investment products, from the traditional equity and debt securities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to more esoteric and sophisticated items such as options, futures, asset-backed securities, collateralized debt or mortgage obligations and many other products.

Fees Lazard Asset Management charges for its services

Clients directly investing with Lazard Asset Management typically pay an advisory fee that is calculated based on a percentage of assets under management. In certain situations, a different fee structure may be used, such as a performance-based fee. Fees typically are tiered, meaning the rate drops once client investments reach certain asset thresholds.

The firm publishes a standard fee schedule, making it possible to know what you’ll pay in advance. Fees are negotiable though and, thus, may differ from the standard schedule.

Wealthy individuals and families investing through the firm’s Private Client Group pay the following fees:

Lazard Asset Management Private Client Group fees
Portfolio strategies Portfolio strategies Fees
U.S. Equity and Balanced 1.00% on the first $5 million
0.75% on the next $5 million
0.50% on the rest
International/Global 1.00% on the first $5 million
0.85% on the next $5 million
0.75% on the rest
Fixed Income 0.40% on the first $25 million
0.375% on the rest

On top of the advisory fees, clients can owe transaction and other fees, such as fees on the mutual funds and ETFs in your account.

Everyone else pays advisory fees that typically range from 0.40% to 1.25% on the first dollar invested, depending on the investment category. There are typically many strategies within each category. Some strategies also carry performance-based fees on top of advisory fees.

Strategy sector — Fee on first dollar invested
Global Equity Ranges from 0.75% to 1.25%
Convertible Securities Ranges from 0.60% to 0.75%
Quantitative Equity Ranges from 0.40% to 0.85%
Regional Equity Ranges from 0.50% to 1.00%
Country Specific Equity Ranges from 0.40% to 0.80%
Balanced Ranges from 0.40% to 0.85%
Fixed Income Ranges from 0.25% to 0.80%
Alternatives Ranges from 1.00% to 1.50%

For the firm’s alternative and private funds, the management fees typically run between 1% and 1.50%, with a performance-based fee generally between 10% and 20%. That said, the exact amount and types of fees can vary.

Clients using the firm’s model portfolios or other allocation recommendations pay a fee that is specified by the financial institution through which they are investing.

Lazard Asset Management disciplinary disclosures

Lazard Asset Management discloses no legal or disciplinary actions against the firm, its employees or its affiliates in the prior decade, including any regulatory, civil or criminal events that would materially impact a potential client’s opinion of the firm or the integrity of its leaders. For reference, the SEC requires all registered investment advisory firms to disclose to the public on its Form ADV all legal and disciplinary actions in the last 10 years that could potentially impact a client’s view of the firm.

To view the Lazard Asset Management’s Form ADV and brochure, visit its Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

Lazard Asset Management onboarding process

Individuals and institutions interested in working with Lazard Asset Management can contact the firm through the appropriate representatives found on this Contact Us page on the firm’s website.

Once established as clients, investors can expect to receive a report at the end of each calendar quarter showing their holdings and a one-page portfolio summary, which will include the following information:

  • Account performance versus market indices
  • Asset allocation
  • Transactions
  • Corporate actions
  • Other information applicable to their specific investments

Where Lazard Asset Management is located

Lazard Asset Management has four offices across three states. Specifically it has locations in the following cities:

  • New York
  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • Palo Alto, Calif.

Though it only has a handful of office locations, the firm is registered to serve investors in every state plus the District of Columbia, with the exception of Wyoming. This makes it accessible to those comfortable with a remote relationship with their advisor.

Is Lazard Asset Management right for you?

Wealthy individuals and families looking for an investment advisor with proprietary global resources as well as sophisticated products and strategies can consider Lazard Asset Management. Middle-income investors who have a relationship with other financial institutions also can consider Lazard Asset Management if they are looking for a global brand name firm to manage their accounts indirectly.

That said, middle-income clients who are looking for a direct relationship with a local advisor, or who also seek financial planning advice such as help reaching their retirement goals, should consider elsewhere. The firm does not offer financial planning services, and it doesn’t directly work with clients with less than $1 million to invest.

You may be surprised at the differences in services and fees amongst financial advisors. It’s the client’s job to understand these key features so you find an advisor well-suited for your situation. To search for financial advisors, start at MagnifyMoney’s Find a Financial Advisor tool.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.