Apollo CEO Marc Rowan puts firm’s culture in spotlight, says ‘it’s ultimately about


Marc Rowan
Marc Rowan, Apollo’s cofounder and CEO.

  • Marc Rowan, Apollo’s cofounder and CEO, said “having fun at this job” is important.
  • The firm is changing compensation, with investment professionals getting a bigger slice of profits.
  • Investor day puts Apollo’s culture in the spotlight as the firm aims for a big growth push.

Apollo Global Management is gearing up for a big growth push aimed at more than doubling its assets under management to $1 trillion by 2026.

That puts Apollo head-to-head with Blackstone, which set itself the same asset target back in 2018. On Tuesday, Apollo executives touted the firm’s acquisition of the annuities provider Athene as a key driver, as well as growth in areas such as capital markets and wealth management.

All that growth also comes with the need for more hiring: For the wealth plans, for example, Stephanie Drescher, the firm’s chief client and product development officer, said the unit targeting distribution to “mass affluent” investors would expand from 20 positions to 30 by the end of the year. Apollo aims to reach more than 115 positions worldwide in the future.

One thread that ran throughout the firm’s investor-day presentations was a focus on Apollo’s culture. As Insider reported, Apollo hired a new head of human capital from BlackRock who has been looking to help usher in changes to soften the firm’s reputation for sharp elbows and ensure that it recruits and retains the best and brightest, and fosters a more inclusive workplace.

“It’s ultimately about having fun at this job. This job is just too hard not to have a good time and to really appreciate the people you work with every day,” said Marc Rowan, Apollo’s chief executive, at the firm’s investor day on Tuesday. The CEO took over the role from Leon Black in March.

At one point, a slide appeared that featured a quote from the management thought leader Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

To which Rowan said: “If I had to choose between strategy and culture, I’d take culture. If we get culture right, we win. We can always adjust the strategy, and I want to assure you we are getting culture right.”

Rowan also shared a slide that touted some recent hires.

“Roger Ferguson can work anywhere,” Rowan said. “The former CEO of TIAA, one of the most prominent minority businessmen in the country.” Rowan continued, “He sees our passion and wanted to be part of it.”

Ferguson, once one of few Black CEOs of a Fortune 500 company in the country, joined Apollo as vice chairman this month. David Stangis, the founder of the impact-investing advisory firm 21C Impact, also joined Apollo in October in the newly created role of chief sustainability officer. Apollo also announced this month that Bill Lewis Jr. was set to join as a senior partner and a member of Apollo’s management committee. He was previously the chairman of investment banking at Lazard.

The investor-day slide listed 18 other professionals who came from the likes of Goldman Sachs, AllianceBernstein, Evercore, Carlyle, and Citi.

“We’ve generally picked people like us who also want that same opportunity. And now we have an opportunity to expand it. And expand it to people in other groups, other geographies, and to veterans, people of color, different genders. In every way we can expand opportunity. This is not something that lives in HR or DE&I. This is something that lives in the firm,” Rowan said.

Rowan added that one of the things attracting talent was Apollo’s new compensation package. Senior executives, including Rowan, are set to be compensated with equity in Apollo, and the firm’s investment professionals are set to receive a larger slice of profits.

In March, Insider reported that Apollo was offering six-figure retention bonuses to some of its private-equity associates after a wave of young talent quit the firm when deal work skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic. The bonuses came with the stipulation that associates stay with Apollo at least until September 2022.

“If you’re at our firm, we want you to spend your entire career at Apollo. And, in fact, the vast majority of our leadership does spend their entire career at Apollo,” Rowan said.

Apollo shares were up about 8% at market close on Tuesday.

See more investor-day coverage here:


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