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Best places to work in money management

ClearBridge Investments

ClearBridge volunteers did their part for the New York Restoration Project in Pop-up Park at Swindler’s Cove. Staffers did a bit of weeding, litter cleanup and provided TLC for trees and gardens throughout the park.

First place, money managers with 100 to 499 employees

AUM: $139.9 billion

Employees: 212

After being one of a select number of firms named a Best Places to Work in Money Management every year, Terrence Murphy said the results continue to be very important because we always "want to improve."

Company executives try very hard to "see what best-in-class companies" are offering to attract and retain the best talent, said Mr. Murphy, CEO of ClearBridge Investments LLC, an operating unit of Legg Mason (LM) Inc. (LM)

This extends beyond the financial services industry. Company officials even talk with analysts and portfolio managers who share what leading companies in their sector coverage are doing.

To ensure management continues to improve the culture and company, Mr. Murphy takes it upon himself to walk around the offices chatting with employees. Speaking about his long-term practice, Mr. Murphy said "it is one of the most important things I do" and "I want to hear directly from employees."

One aspect the company recently changed was maternity and paternity benefits. The company now offers all parents 12 weeks of fully paid leave. Previously, secondary caregivers only received two weeks of paid time off. Parents also now have more flexibility when they take the paid leave. In referring to the changes, Mr. Murphy said "we wanted to be a leader."

There were more than 20 employee comments that specifically praised the company's work-life balance, including: "The company really pays attention to work-family balance, and respects your family time." Mr. Murphy said a work-life balance is "a core belief" and is "embedded in the culture." In the age of technology, an employee's physical location matters less. What is important to ClearBridge is a clear focus on the clients, he said.

As a New York-based company, when planning compensation for 2019, the manager took changes in federal tax laws as a factor. According to Mr. Murphy, "employees should not be penalized" for the changes, such as the reduction in state and local tax deductions. Employees continue to love the Times Square office and the company does not have any plans to move.

Although ClearBridge has its own distinctive culture, it does have leverage being part of a larger organization. Executives work with Legg Mason when it makes economic sense such as health-care benefits. ClearBridge tries to promote internally whenever possible, but employees also have career opportunities with other affiliates and Legg Mason.