In 2023, Lazard is celebrating the 175th anniversary of our founding.
Throughout the year, we will be commemorating this milestone by sharing stories and images from our past, profiling the most consequential leaders from our history and asking some long-serving colleagues to share their memories from their years at Lazard.
We invite you to learn more about Lazard, our history and the key events and leaders that have shaped us into the firm we are today.
Celebrating 175 Years of Lazard
Take a journey through the past 175 years to learn how a small New Orleans dry goods business founded by two French brothers became one of the world's leading financial institutions.
Click here to watch our retrospective film about the rich history of Lazard and to read the special commemorative digital book we have published to celebrate this landmark occasion.
Ken Jacobs on Lazard's 175 Years
Lazard Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth M. Jacobs reflects on Lazard's 175th year in business, and shares his perspective on the secrets behind Lazard's success and longevity.
"Few businesses have the staying power to mark such an achievement, and even fewer have such interesting stories to tell."
The Four Pillars of Lazard's Success
The story of Lazard, from the 19th century French brothers who started a business with virtually nothing but their wits, to its current status as a global financial institution, is a saga full of brushes with disaster and occasional lucky breaks.
But as we review Lazard’s history, we can see that its success over 175 years was not the result of chance. A few broad themes emerge that can help us understand how Lazard has survived bad times and made the most of good times: always adapting; always putting clients first; always making an impact; and always a firm of remarkable people.
They are also key to understanding how Lazard will continue to thrive.
From the earliest days, Lazard’s partners recognized that changing times create new opportunities, and were quick to adapt accordingly. This trait would lead them to California, then to New York, Paris and London.
Through the years, Lazard has at times embraced retail banking, currency trading, principal investing, stock brokerage, and many other businesses. It has also exited businesses that no longer served their purpose, or in which it could no longer create value. Lazard’s ability to adapt has enhanced the firm’s reputation for innovation and insight. The firm’s future success lies in its ability to anticipate changing client needs, and to continue adapting.
Even as Lazard has changed with the times, its commitment to being a client service business has remained constant. From running a retail store, to managing clients’ assets, to advising business and government leaders, the roots are deep.
A long history of putting clients first, and being their most trusted advisor, has been key to building Lazard’s reputation for excellence and discretion, a characteristic that remains essential for continued success.
For most of its history, Lazard has wielded a greater impact on the world stage than one would expect from a relatively small firm. This is partly due to the nature of its business – advising business and government leaders on their most important financial and strategic decisions, and helping investors around the world reach their financial goals with advice and investment services.
But the firm’s impact extends beyond client matters to the cities and communities where it does business. From the earliest days in San Francisco, Lazard partners were active in the local community, through business associations, charitable endeavors and programs to educate and create opportunities for the underprivileged.
Individual involvement in civic matters has enabled Lazard to make a positive impact to the cities and communities in which it operates, and supported its reputation as a contributor to the common good. Civic involvement will continue to be one of the key drivers of Lazard’s success and impact as a firm.
Lazard’s story is full of larger-than-life personalities, only a few of whom are profiled here. It would take volumes to mention all the people who have made significant contributions to the firm's success over 175 years. Even as Lazard has outgrown its reliance on a few individuals to drive its success, it continues to be a place where the individual can make a difference.
Lazard remains proudly multicultural, with more than 3,000 employees representing more than 90 nationalities. Regardless of where Lazard grows next, remarkable people will lead the way.
175 Years of Innovation
Our story begins in the most modest of circumstances, when two young brothers from a family of French peddlers depart their home town of Frauenberg to seek their fortunes in America.
The brothers, Alexandre and Lazare Lazard, sailed to New Orleans, arriving in 1841. They immediately set to work, buying “dry goods,” a term for fabrics, clothing accessories, haberdashery, and related items, wholesale in the city and traversing the countryside to sell piecemeal to settlers and farmers. Within several years, they had achieved enough success to write home and invite a third brother, Simon, to join them.
In 1848, Alexandre, Lazare and Simon decided to give their partnership a legal framework, drawing up a contract that marked the founding of Lazard Frères & Co.