Hire Wire Jul 28 2011

Lazard Lowers Compensation Ratio

By julie steinberg

Lazard is following through on its promise to gradually lower its compensation-to-revenue ratio, according to its second quarter earnings statement released today.

The firm set aside 58.1% of its revenues for compensation of its employees during the second quarter, down from 59.1% in the first quarter. The compensation ratio for the first half of 2011 is 58.5%, compared to 60% for the first half of 2010.

It's now more closely aligned with firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, whose compensation ratios were 50% and 44%, respectively, in the second quarter.

"Our goal remains to grow annual compensation expense at a slower rate than revenues, and to achieve over the cycle compensation levels on average consistent with the targets established at the time we went public in 2005," the company stated in its earnings statement.

Lazard's compensation ratio was 71.8% in 2009.

Lazard hired 22 bankers in the first quarter 2011, the most recent period for which information was made available. That brought total headcount to 2,354 employees. In the second quarter, Lazard set aside $285.6 million in compensation and benefits, up from $270 million in the first quarter and $262.2 million a year earlier.

Write to Julie Steinberg at julie.steinberg@dowjones.com

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