Stanley Egener, who helped build Neuberger Berman’s mutual fund business by appearing in TV commercials and through marketing innovations during almost a quarter-century at the firm, has died. He was 81.
He died on May 30 in his Manhattan apartment, his son, Mark Egener, said in a telephone interview. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Egener, who spent his entire 39-year financial career on Wall Street, joined New York-based Neuberger in 1975 as an executive in its mutual fund division, Neuberger & Berman Management Inc., and was president of the unit from 1982 to 1999.
He appeared in a television commercial for the firm in 1997 in which he is seen driving an Aston Martin on a mountain road, according to an account in Crain’s New York Business. A young man in a Ferrari pulls up alongside and challenges him to a race. The 62-year-old Egener declines and the Ferrari zooms away into an accident.
“He was one of those guys who wants to take unnecessary risks,” Egener said in an interview, according to Crain’s. “We don’t do that.”
A print campaign in the late 1990s promoted that Neuberger’s top executives had more than $100 million of their own money invested in its funds. In a photo with one ad, Egener is seen in a business suit and tie, with pursed lips and folded arms, above the slogan: “If we don’t invest in it, why should you?”
In a 1997 interview, according to Forbes, he said: “About 90 percent of my money is invested in our mutual funds.”
Egener helped create new marketing strategies at Neuberger. The firm offered low-cost group life insurance to shareholders of its three mutual funds, according to a 1977 article in the New York Times.
From 1984 to 1988, he served as president of the No-Load Mutual Fund Association, which is today known as the Mutual Fund Education Alliance, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Egener was often quoted by personal finance publications about the investments.
“He was a visionary in the mutual fund business,” Alexander Samuelson, a Neuberger spokesman, said in a telephone interview.
Prior to joining the firm, Egener created an early tax-advantaged retirement investment for employer-sponsored plans while at Scherl, Egener & Co., which he co-founded in 1972. Called the Side Fund, it was marketed to companies whose employees made contributions through tax-deferred payroll deductions. A new Internal Revenue Service ruling had approved the use of mutual funds as tax shelters offering a spur to the industry, according to a 1969 article in the Times.
“If employees buying as one person can get very low sales charges and all their earnings are tax free, why should they buy mutual funds any other way?” he said, according to the Times.
After Egener moved to Neuberger, his new firm took over management of the Side Fund and rebranded it as the Partners Fund.
When he retired in 1999, the company had $57 billion in assets under management, including $20 billion in mutual funds. That year Neuberger went public and in the stock offering Egener sold $4 million of personally held shares.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bought the firm for $2.63 billion in 2003. After Lehman went bankrupt in 2008, an employee-led buyout made Neuberger an independent firm again.
Stanley Egener was born on March 31, 1934, in the Bronx, New York, according to Mark Egener. His mother, Etta Egener, worked at Bloomingdale’s department store. His father abandoned the family when he was 6 or 7 years old.
Egener graduated from Hunter College in New York in 1955. He served two years as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid.
In 1960, Egener joined New York-based Dreyfus Corp., parent company of the Dreyfus Fund. He moved to Oppenheimer & Co., also in New York, in 1964 as a regional sales manager.
Egener was twice married and divorced, Mark Egener said, first to the former Mary Hutchins, and then to Linda Hartzer.
In addition to Mark Egener, survivors include a second son from the first marriage, Todd Egener; his companion Aline DeBray; and five grandchildren.