Lazard’s Orszag Says Price of Bankers Is Rising Across Industry

Lazard Ltd. is “very actively hiring” even as competition for talent drives finance-industry wages higher, according to the firm’s financial-advisory chief.

“There’s a lot of competition for bankers right now,” Peter Orszag said in an interview with Bloomberg Television Thursday.

Orszag said investment banking would always be hard work, and financial firms will need to find new ways to keep it engaging. Flexible schedules and an interesting workload are ways to accomplish that, he said, adding that Lazard employees are coming into the office three days a week and working remotely Monday and Friday.

Many Wall Street firms are trying to lure new hires with improved compensation packages and juicy benefits. But they’re also fighting morale issues, a problem highlighted earlier this year when a group of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts drew attention to the difficult conditions they’re facing in investment banking.

This week, Barclays Plc lifted base salaries of all U.S. analysts by $15,000 and its U.S. associates and vice presidents by $25,000, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted salaries for its junior bankers. Jefferies Financial Group Inc. earlier this year put a selection of coveted fitness perks -- including a Peloton Interactive Inc. bike and Apple Inc. products -- up for grabs for some employees.

Orszag, who is also a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, said salary pressure also extends into more senior levels.

“Most of what happens in advisory businesses is that when the client work picks up -- that spills over into compensation,” he said. “I would expect that that will occur. It’s occurring to some degree already. And that’s just another reflection of how hot the market is.”

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