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.