Neuberger Boosts Bonuses, Seeks to Expand Headcount This Year

(Bloomberg) -- Neuberger Berman Group boosted its bonus pool and is planning to hire investment professionals after increasing assets under management.

Compensation rose by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage on average at the firm, though payouts differ depending on the strategy, Heather Zuckerman, the firm’s chief of staff, said in an interview. Neuberger, which had $304 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, is seeking to expand in areas including private debt, infrastructure, global equities and real estate across the globe, she said.

“We’re hiring for our growth areas, and we’re not going to cut in areas just because it’s been a tough market,” Zuckerman said. “That’s exactly when we think those businesses need more resources.”

Because Neuberger Berman is closely held and owned by its employees, it’s less likely to shed staff in a volatile market, Zuckerman said. Rivals such as BlackRock Inc. and State Street Corp. have announced plans to cut jobs, as has Cliff Asness’s AQR Capital Management.

Neuberger’s assets under management rose about $9 billion last year from growth in strategies including private equity and fixed income, while headcount at the New York-based company increased 6 percent. Under Chief Executive Officer George Walker, the firm has been sticking to active management even while many in that industry have been pressured by outflows.

“We are cautious about how we allocate our resources; we are prudent,” Zuckerman said. “Our view is that it’s not a one-year process. We measure performance for how people serve their clients, which is multiyear.”

Neuberger hired a fixed-income team in Europe last year as well as one for specialty finance. It added a quantitative team in 2017. Of the firm’s more than 2,000 employees, about 500 are investment professionals, according to its website.

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