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Monday, April 09, 2012

Change Inspires Alger's People

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Inspired by change and driven by growth. That is the tagline for Fred Alger [profile] mutual funds. Dan Chung, Alger's CEO, invoked the words during his introduction of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the dedication of Alger's new office in New York's Flatiron District this morning. Those offices are a long way from the financial district, but at the same time they are just a few neighborhoods away in the same city.

For much of its history Alger was a family business. Fred Alger founded the business in 1964 and was soon joined by his brother David. The brothers inspired a whole style of equity investing -- aggressive growth -- and by 1998 their growing team drove a change of address. David, by then the CEO, moved Alger from its cramped space in the financial district to the ample floors of the World Trade Center. They were in those offices less than a handful of years until that sunny September day.

Alger lost 34 people that day. Along with David.

In the days that followed, Alger's clients remained true. Fred came out of retirement to rebuild the business, and Alger alums who had moved on returned to lend their hands and hearts to the work. Chung reminded those at the dedication that many thought Alger would close up shop. Some people warned him that signing a ten-year lease was not a wise decision.

Now the ten years have passed and Alger has changed offices again. The new space feels less like that of an asset management firm and more like that of a Chelsea designer. It has bright white walls with modern paintings, concrete floors, and an iron sliding gate serving as a front door. There are high, unfinished ceilings that have come to signify twenty first century creative firms. The lamp fixtures hang from the ceiling, lending a warm color not found in high-rise office towers dating from the1970s.

Easter is still fresh today. Chung spoke in front of six empty wooden chairs to introduce the mayor. Red velvet rope surrounded the chairs, and around the rope stood scores of today's Alger workers, and families of those for whom the chairs were placed.

The spirits in those chairs inspired Alger's rebirth, Chung said. He shared that Alger's AUM has returned to what it was on that September day more than a decade ago. They are close to a new high, set when Alger was literally at the top of the world before the Nasdaq crashed around it.

That is the biggest news today in the mutual fund world: Alger is open for business and doing just fine in Manhattan. 

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