Lazard announced on Friday that Peter Orszag, who leads its core financial advisory business, will succeed Ken Jacobs as the company’s chief executive on Oct. 1. Mr. Jacobs will stay on as executive chairman and continue to advise clients.
Mr. Orszag, a former Obama administration official, will oversee a 175-year-old financial institution with a long history of advising on major corporate deals at a time when its mainstay business faces huge challenges.
“Over his career spanning both banking and government, Peter has proven to be a strategic, visionary and decisive leader, with deep relationships across the industry and the ability to effectively lead Lazard through evolving global markets and complex geopolitical dynamics,” Richard Parsons, the firm’s lead independent director, said in a statement.
Lazard did not say when its succession planning began, but Mr. Orszag, 54, wrote in a memo to employees on Friday that the move followed a “selection process that has been in the works for quite some time.”
An economist by training, Mr. Orszag regularly appears on CNBC and Bloomberg Television. He rose through the ranks in Washington and on Wall Street — he worked for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as at Citigroup — giving him a useful background to running one of the world’s most prominent independent banks.
But he will confront a tough time for investment banks. Deal-making was down 40 percent this year through Thursday, compared with the same period last year, according to Refinitiv. And rising interest rates, increasingly tough antitrust enforcement and a slowing economy make a resurgence in big-ticket mergers and acquisitions unlikely anytime soon.
The challenging environment has hit Lazard, which said last month that it was laying off 10 percent of its work force; the bank’s shares have fallen 11 percent since then. The firm isn’t alone: Rivals like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have also cut staff.
In the memo to colleagues this morning, Mr. Orszag said the firm’s ambition “should be to become the pre-eminent independent, global, go-to destination on all aspects of complex corporate finance, investing, and strategic decision-making.”
A top priority for Mr. Orszag is expanding Lazard’s asset management business, which oversees more than $200 billion of assets and represents 40 percent of its business. Asset management has become popular among Wall Street banks as a steady source of revenue that can offset volatility in investment banking; Mr. Orszag told employees that growth could come from acquisitions.
Mr. Orszag also said Lazard’s investment banking business would look for growth opportunities in private capital markets and through work in the Middle East.
Among his other priorities are to “attract and retain top talent through a modern workplace including our technology platform, diversity and work from home flexibility,” Mr. Orszag said.
The firm will announce other changes to its management before October.