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Alliancebernstein Holding L.P. (AB) SEC Filing 10-K Annual Report for the fiscal year ending Friday, December 31, 2021

SEC Filings

AB Annual Reports

Alliancebernstein Holding L.P.

CIK: 825313 Ticker: AB
Cover Page - USD ($)
$ in Billions
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2021
Jun. 30, 2021
Document Type10-K 
Document Annual Reporttrue 
Document Period End DateDec. 31, 2021 
Document Transition Reportfalse 
Entity File Number001-09818 
Entity Registrant NameALLIANCEBERNSTEIN HOLDING L.P. 
Entity Incorporation, State or Country CodeDE 
Entity Tax Identification Number13-3434400 
Entity Address, City or TownNashville 
Entity Address, State or ProvinceTN 
Entity Address, Postal Zip Code37203 
City Area Code615 
Local Phone Number622-0000 
Title of 12(b) SecurityUnits Rep. Assignments of Beneficial Ownership of LP Interests in AB Holding ("Units") 
Trading SymbolAB 
Security Exchange NameNYSE 
Entity Well-known Seasoned IssuerYes 
Entity Voluntary FilersNo 
Entity Current Reporting StatusYes 
Entity Interactive Data CurrentYes 
Entity Small Businessfalse 
Entity Emerging Growth Companyfalse 
Entity Shell Companyfalse 
Entity Public Float $ 4.2
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding99,271,727 
Entity Central Index Key0000825313 
Current Fiscal Year End Date--12-31 
Document Fiscal Year Focus2021 
Document Fiscal Period FocusFY 
Amendment Flagfalse 
ICFR Auditor Attestation Flagtrue 
Entity Address, Address Line One501 Commerce Street 
Entity Filer CategoryLarge Accelerated Filer 
Auditor Firm ID238 
General Partner’s Capital  
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding100,000 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2021
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                 to
Commission file number 001-09818
ALLIANCEBERNSTEIN HOLDING L.P.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware 13-3434400
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization) (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
501 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN
37203
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (615) 622-0000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class Trading SymbolName of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Units Rep. Assignments of Beneficial Ownership of LP Interests in AB Holding ("Units") ABNew York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes ☒  No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes ☐  No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes ☒  No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer ☒
Accelerated filer ☐Non-accelerated filer ☐
Smaller reporting company ☐
Emerging growth company ☐
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.   Yes ☒  No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes ☐  No ☒
The aggregate market value of the units representing assignments of beneficial ownership of limited partnership interests held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which such units were last sold on the New York Stock Exchange as of June 30, 2021 was approximately $4.2 billion.
The number of units representing assignments of beneficial ownership of limited partnership interests outstanding as of December 31, 2021 was 99,271,727. (This figure includes 100,000 general partnership units having economic interests equivalent to the economic interests of the units representing assignments of beneficial ownership of limited partnership interests.)
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
This Form 10-K does not incorporate any document by reference.

Table of Contents
AB

2021 Annual Report
i

Glossary of Certain Defined Terms
AB
AllianceBernstein L.P. (Delaware limited partnership formerly known as Alliance Capital Management L.P., “Alliance Capital”), the operating partnership, and its subsidiaries and, where appropriate, its predecessors, AB Holding and ACMC, Inc. and their respective subsidiaries.
AB HoldingAllianceBernstein Holding L.P. (Delaware limited partnership).
AB Holding Partnership Agreementthe Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of AB Holding, dated as of October 29, 1999 and as amended February 24, 2006.
AB Holding Unitsunits representing assignments of beneficial ownership of limited partnership interest in AB Holding.
AB Partnership Agreementthe Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership of AB, dated as of October 29, 1999 and as amended February 24, 2006.
AB Unitsunits of limited partnership interest in AB.
AUMAB's Assets Under Management.
AXA
AXA S.A. (société anonyme organized under the laws of France) is the holding company for the AXA Group, a worldwide leader in financial protection.
Bernstein TransactionAB's acquisition of the business and assets of SCB Inc., formerly known as Sanford C. Bernstein Inc., and the related assumption of the liabilities of that business, completed on October 2, 2000.
Equitable AmericaEquitable Financial Insurance Company of America (f/k/a MONY Life Insurance Company of America, an Arizona corporation), a subsidiary of Equitable Holdings.
Equitable FinancialEquitable Financial Life Insurance Company (New York stock life insurance company), a subsidiary of Equitable Holdings.
Equitable Holdings or EQHEquitable Holdings, Inc. (Delaware corporation) and its subsidiaries other than AB and its subsidiaries.
Exchange Actthe Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
ERISAthe Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended.
GAAPU.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
General PartnerAllianceBernstein Corporation (Delaware corporation), the general partner of AB and AB Holding and a subsidiary of Equitable Holdings, and, where appropriate, ACMC, LLC, its predecessor.
Investment Advisers Actthe Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended.
Investment Company Actthe Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended.
NYSEthe New York Stock Exchange, Inc.
PartnershipsAB and AB Holding together.
SECthe United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Securities Actthe Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

ii
AllianceBernstein

Part I
Item 1. Business
The words “we” and “our” in this Form 10-K refer collectively to AB Holding and AB and its subsidiaries, or to their officers and employees. Similarly, the words “company” and “firm” refer to both AB Holding and AB. Where the context requires distinguishing between AB Holding and AB, we identify which company is being discussed. Cross-references are in italics.
We use “global” in this Form 10-K to refer to all nations, including the United States; we use “international” or “non-U.S.” to refer to nations other than the United States.
We use “emerging markets” in this Form 10-K to refer to countries included in the Morgan Stanley Capital International (“MSCI”) emerging markets index, which are, as of December 31, 2021: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
Clients
We provide diversified investment management, research and related services globally to a broad range of clients through our three buy-side distribution channels: Institutions, Retail and Private Wealth Management, and our sell-side business, Bernstein Research Services. See “Distribution Channels” in this Item 1 for additional information.
As of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, our AUM were approximately $779 billion, $686 billion and $623 billion, respectively, and our net revenues were approximately $4.4 billion, $3.7 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively. EQH (our parent company) and its subsidiaries, whose AUM consist primarily of fixed income investments, is our largest client. Our EQH affiliates represented approximately 17%, 19% and 18% of our AUM as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, and we earned approximately 3% of our net revenues from services we provided to them in each of those years.
Assets Under
Management (AUM)
($ billions)
Net Revenues
($ billions)
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See “Distribution Channels” below and “Assets Under Management” and “Net Revenues” in Item 7 for additional information regarding our AUM and net revenues.
Generally, we are compensated for our investment services on the basis of investment advisory and services fees calculated as a percentage of AUM. For additional information about our investment advisory and services fees, including performance-based fees, seeRisk Factorsin Item 1A and “Net Revenues – Investment Advisory and Services Fees” in Item 7.
2021 Annual Report
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Research
Our high-quality, in-depth research is the foundation of our business. We believe that our global team of research professionals, whose disciplines include economic, fundamental equity, fixed income and quantitative research, gives us a competitive advantage in achieving investment success for our clients. We also have experts focused on multi-asset strategies, wealth management, environmental, social and governance (“ESG”), and alternative investments.
Corporate Responsibility
At AB, we pursue insight that unlocks opportunity. This is our firm's purpose. Together with our firm's mission and values, which we have described below, our purpose forms the foundation of responsibility at AB.
AB's mission is to help our clients define and achieve their investment goals, explicitly stating what we do each day to unlock opportunity for our clients. As an active manager, our differentiated insights drive our ability to deliver alpha and design innovative investment solutions. ESG and climate issues are key elements in forming insights and in presenting potential risks and opportunities that can impact the performance of the companies and issuers in which we invest and the portfolios we build.
Our values provide a framework for the behaviors and actions that deliver on our purpose and mission. Values align our actions. Each value emerges from our firm's character, yet also is aspirational, and each value challenges us to become a better, more responsible version of AB:
We invest in each other, meaning that we have a strong organizational culture in which diversity is celebrated and mentorship is critical to our success.
We strive for distinctive insight, meaning that we collaboratively identify creative solutions to clients' economic, ESG and climate-related investment challenges through our expertise in a wide range of investment disciplines.
We speak with courage and conviction, which informs how we engage with our AB colleagues and issuers.
We act with integrity, which is the bedrock of our relationships and drives us to avoid activities that could create potential conflicts of interest or distract us from our singular focus to provide asset management and research to our clients.
As noted above, we consistently challenge ourselves to become a better version of AB. This means, in part, giving back to the communities in which we work through our firm-wide philanthropic initiative, AB Gives Back, and reducing our environmental footprint by increasing our use of “green buildings,” such as our new corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. Additionally, by promoting diversity and inclusion, we are afforded different perspectives and ways of thinking, which can lead to better outcomes for our clients (See Diversity and Inclusion below in this Item 1).
Also, striving to be more responsible gives us a richer perspective for evaluating other companies. As longtime fundamental investors with a strong research heritage, we consider ESG factors in various processes. This helps us make fully informed risk/return assessments and draw insightful investment conclusions. Our investors — research analysts and portfolio managers — understand the companies and industries they cover in-depth. This positions them well to determine which ESG issues are material to particular companies, to determine the financial impact of an ESG issue and to incorporate that insight into their cash-flow, earnings and credit models. And, we continue to invest in technology and innovation to further enable our investment teams to formalize their ESG evaluations and share insights from our engagements with other companies.
Additionally, AB has prioritized our employees' health and welfare throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring that our firm has continued to meet our fiduciary obligations and provide exceptional client service and thoughtful investment advice. Furthermore, COVID-19 is a prominent theme in engagement: it not only impacts business models but also highlights corporate ESG practices. We are advocating that issuers be responsible corporate citizens, and we are working to better understand opportunities and threats, including supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures, fueled by the pandemic.
We provide additional information in this regard in our corporate responsibility report, which is entitled "Advancing Responsible Investing" and can be found under “Responsibility - Overview” on www.alliancebernstein.com.
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AllianceBernstein

Investment Services
We provide a broad range of investment services with expertise in:
Actively-managed equity strategies, with global and regional portfolios across capitalization ranges, concentration ranges and investment strategies, including value, growth and core equities;
Actively-managed traditional and unconstrained fixed income strategies, including taxable and tax-exempt strategies;
Alternative investments, including hedge funds, fund of funds, direct lending, real estate and private equity;
Multi-asset solutions and services, including dynamic asset allocation, customized target-date funds and target-risk funds; and
Some passive management, including index and enhanced index strategies.
Our AUM by client domicile and investment service as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 were as follows:
AUM by Client Domicile
($ in billions)
AUM by Investment Service
($ in billions)
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Distribution Channels
Institutions
We offer to our institutional clients, which include private and public pension plans, foundations and endowments, insurance companies, central banks and governments worldwide, and EQH and its subsidiaries, separately-managed accounts, sub-advisory relationships, structured products, collective investment trusts, mutual funds, hedge funds and other investment vehicles (“Institutional Services”).
We manage the assets of our institutional clients pursuant to written investment management agreements or other arrangements, which generally are terminable at any time or upon relatively short notice by either party. In general, our written investment management agreements may not be assigned without the client's consent. For information about our institutional investment advisory and services fees, including performance-based fees, seeRisk Factorsin Item 1A and “Net Revenues – Investment Advisory and Services Fees” in Item 7.
EQH and its subsidiaries constitute our largest institutional client. EQH and its subsidiaries combined AUM accounted for approximately 25%, 29% and 28% of our institutional AUM as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and approximately 18%, 18% and 17% of our institutional revenues for 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. No single institutional client other than EQH and its respective subsidiaries accounted for more than approximately 2% of our net revenues for the year ended December 31, 2021.
As of December 31, 2021, EQH and its subsidiaries combined AUM accounted for:
Approximately

25%
of our institutional AUM.
Approximately

18%
of our institutional revenues.
EQH and Subsidiaries as a % of our Institutional AUMEQH and Subsidiaries as a % of our Institutional Revenues
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AllianceBernstein

As of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, Institutional Services represented approximately 43%, 46% and 45%, respectively, of our AUM, and the fees we earned from providing these services represented approximately 13%, 14% and 14%, respectively, of our net revenues for each of those years. Our AUM and revenues are as follows:

Institutional Services Assets Under Management
(by Investment Service)

Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in millions)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$73,726 $60,067 $44,628 22.7 %34.6 %
Equity Passively Managed(1)
28,995 27,873 25,300 4.0 10.2 
Total Equity102,721 87,940 69,928 16.8 25.8 
U.S.47,409 41,241 35,210 15.0 17.1 
Global & Non-US55,312 46,699 34,718 18.4 34.5 
Total Equity102,721 87,940 69,928 16.8 25.8 
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable155,940 164,048 157,717 (4.9)4.0 
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt1,108 1,271 1,209 (12.8)5.1 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
224 84 89 166.7 (5.6)
Total Fixed Income157,272 165,403 159,015 (4.9)4.0 
U.S.110,312 116,833 108,714 (5.6)7.5 
Global & Non-US46,960 48,570 50,301 26.1 9.6 
Total Fixed Income157,272 165,403 159,015 (4.9)4.0 
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(2):
U.S.7,697 6,104 5,568 26.1 9.6 
Global & Non-US69,390 56,151 48,179 23.6 16.5 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions77,087 62,255 53,747 23.8 15.8 
Total:
U.S.165,418 164,178 149,492 0.8 9.8 
Global & Non-US171,662 151,420 133,198 13.4 13.7 
Total$337,080 $315,598 $282,690 6.8 11.6 
Affiliated - EQH84,096 91,396 78,506 (8.0)16.4 
Non-affiliated(3)
252,984 224,202 204,184 12.8 9.8 
Total$337,080 $315,598 $282,690 6.8 11.6 
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.
(3)As of 12/31/2021, AXA is no longer considered an affiliated party, as such, AXA-related AUM has been reclassified to non-affiliated in 2020 and 2019.
2021 Annual Report
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Revenues from Institutional Services
(by Investment Service)

Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in thousands)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$240,049 $170,802 $160,421 40.5 %6.5 %
Equity Passively Managed(1)
6,119 5,851 5,838 4.6 0.2 
Total Equity246,168 176,653 166,259 39.4 6.3 
U.S.97,522 69,795 66,098 39.7 5.6 
Global & Non-US148,646 106,858 100,161 39.1 6.7 
Total Equity246,168 176,653 166,259 39.4 6.3 
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable199,866 194,026 204,087 3.0 (4.9)
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt1,356 1,355 1,309 0.1 3.5 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
105 82 107 28.0 (23.4)
Fixed Income Servicing(2)
14,738 14,108 13,215 4.5 6.8 
Total Fixed Income216,065 209,571 218,718 3.1 (4.2)
U.S.124,004 118,924 118,345 4.3 0.5 
Global & Non-US92,061 90,647 100,373 1.6 (9.7)
Total Fixed Income216,065 209,571 218,718 3.1 (4.2)
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(3):
U.S.64,646 52,222 54,582 23.8 (4.3)
Global & Non-US59,179 73,354 39,405 (19.3)86.2 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions123,825 125,576 93,987 (1.4)33.6 
Total Investment Advisory and Services Fees:
U.S.286,172 240,941 239,025 18.8 0.8 
Global & Non-US299,886 270,859 239,939 10.7 12.9 
Total586,058 511,800 478,964 14.5 6.9 
Distribution Revenues474 588 704 (19.4)(16.5)
Shareholder Servicing Fees485 526 476(7.8)10.5 
Total$587,017 $512,914 $480,144 14.4 6.8 
Affiliated - EQH105,415 90,101 82,413 17.0 9.3 
Non-affiliated(4)
481,602 422,813 397,731 13.9 6.3 
Total$587,017 $512,914 $480,144 14.4 6.8 
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Fixed Income Servicing includes advisory-related services fees that are not based on AUM, including derivative transaction fees, capital purchase program-related advisory services and other fixed income advisory services.
(3)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.
(4)As of 12/31/2021, AXA is no longer considered an affiliated party, as such, AXA-related AUM has been reclassified to non-affiliated in 2020 and 2019.
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AllianceBernstein

Retail
We provide investment management and related services to a wide variety of individual retail investors globally through retail mutual funds we sponsor, mutual fund sub-advisory relationships, separately-managed account programs (see below), and other investment vehicles (“Retail Products and Services”).
We distribute our Retail Products and Services through financial intermediaries, including broker-dealers, insurance sales representatives, banks, registered investment advisers and financial planners. These products and services include open-end and closed-end funds that are either (i) registered as investment companies under the Investment Company Act (“U.S. Funds”), or (ii) not registered under the Investment Company Act and generally not offered to U.S. persons (“Non-U.S. Funds” and, collectively with the U.S. Funds, “AB Funds”). They also include separately-managed account programs, which are sponsored by financial intermediaries and generally charge an all-inclusive fee covering investment management, trade execution, asset allocation, and custodial and administrative services. In addition, we provide distribution, shareholder servicing, transfer agency services and administrative services for our Retail Products and Services. See “Net Revenues – Investment Advisory and Services Fees” in Item 7 for information about our retail investment advisory and services fees. See Note 2 to AB’s consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for a discussion of the commissions we pay to financial intermediaries in connection with the sale of open-end AB Funds.
Fees paid by the U.S. Funds are reflected in the applicable investment management agreement, which generally must be approved annually by the board of directors or trustees of those funds, by a majority vote of the independent directors or trustees. Increases in these fees must be approved by fund shareholders; decreases need not be, including any decreases implemented by a fund’s directors or trustees. In general, each investment management agreement with the U.S. Funds provides for termination by either party, at any time, upon 60 days’ notice.
Fees paid by Non-U.S. Funds are reflected in management agreements that continue until they are terminated. Increases in these fees generally must be approved by the relevant regulatory authority, depending on the domicile and structure of the fund, and Non-U.S. Fund shareholders must be given advance notice of any fee increases.
The mutual funds we sub-advise for EQH and its subsidiaries constitute our largest retail client. EQH and its subsidiaries accounted for approximately 14% of our retail AUM as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 and approximately 1%, 1% and 2% of our retail net revenues for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
HSBC was responsible for approximately 4%, 6% and 14% of our open-end mutual fund sales in 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. HSBC is not under any obligation to sell a specific amount of AB Fund shares and is not our affiliate.
Most open-end U.S. Funds have adopted a plan under Rule 12b-1 of the Investment Company Act that allows the fund to pay, out of assets of the fund, distribution and service fees for the distribution and sale of its shares. The open-end U.S. Funds have entered into such agreements with us, and we have entered into selling and distribution agreements pursuant to which we pay sales commissions to the financial intermediaries that distribute our open-end U.S. Funds. These agreements are terminable by either party upon notice (generally 30 days) and do not obligate the financial intermediary to sell any specific amount of fund shares.
As of December 31, 2021, retail U.S. Fund AUM were approximately $73 billion, or 23% of retail AUM, as compared to $62 billion, or 23%, as of December 31, 2020, and $55 billion, or 23%, as of December 31, 2019. Non-U.S. Fund AUM, as of December 31, 2021, totaled $130 billion, or 41% of retail AUM, as compared to $110 billion, or 41%, as of December 31, 2020, and $103 billion, or 43%, as of December 31, 2019.
2021 Annual Report
7

Our Retail Services represented approximately 41%, 39% and 39% of our AUM as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and the fees we earned from providing these services represented approximately 50%, 49% and 46% of our net revenues for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Our AUM and revenues are as follows:
Retail Services Assets Under Management
(by Investment Service)
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in millions)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$154,200 $106,866 $81,622 44.3 %30.9 %
Equity Passively Managed(1)
40,821 35,995 34,683 13.4 3.8 
Total Equity195,021 142,861 116,305 36.5 22.8 
U.S.152,106 108,506 84,278 40.2 28.7 
Global & Non-US42,915 34,355 32,027 24.9 7.3 
Total Equity195,021 142,861 116,305 36.5 22.8 
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable75,813 84,654 88,408 (10.4)(4.2)
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt29,009 23,202 20,750 25.0 11.8 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
12,762 8,231 8,825 55.0 (6.7)
Total Fixed Income117,584 116,087 117,983 1.3 (1.6)
U.S.46,361 36,137 34,830 28.3 3.8 
Global & Non-US71,223 79,950 83,153 (10.9)(3.9)
Total Fixed Income117,584 116,087 117,983 1.3 (1.6)
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(2):
U.S.3,595 3,071 2,470 17.1 24.3 
Global & Non-US3,718 3,321 2,408 12.0 37.9 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions7,313 6,392 4,878 14.4 31.0 
Total:
U.S.202,062 147,714 121,578 36.8 21.5 
Global & Non-US117,856 117,626 117,588 0.2 — 
Total$319,918 $265,340 $239,166 20.6 10.9 
Affiliated - EQH44,417 36,765 34,448 20.8 6.7 
Non-affiliated(3)
275,501 228,575 204,718 20.5 11.7 
Total$319,918 $265,340 $239,166 20.6 10.9 
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.
(3)As of 12/31/2021, AXA is no longer considered an affiliated party, as such, AXA-related AUM has been reclassified to non-affiliated in 2020 and 2019.
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AllianceBernstein

Revenues from Retail Services
(by Investment Service)
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in thousands)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$766,578 $508,973 $436,617 50.6 %16.6 %
Equity Passively Managed(1)
14,773 14,347 16,173 3.0 (11.3)
Total Equity781,351 523,320 452,790 49.3 15.6 
U.S.556,398 355,542 292,640 56.5 21.5 
Global & Non-US224,953 167,778 160,150 34.1 4.8 
Total Equity781,351 523,320 452,790 49.3 15.6 
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable517,327 534,164 506,849 (3.2)5.4 
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt84,945 70,734 65,474 20.1 8.0 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
12,994 12,229 12,105 6.3 1.0 
Total Fixed Income615,266 617,127 584,428 (0.3)5.6 
U.S.115,248 101,825 98,310 13.2 3.6 
Global & Non-US500,018 515,302 486,118 (3.0)6.0 
Total Fixed Income615,266 617,127 584,428 (0.3)5.6 
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(2):
U.S.81,872 57,069 51,958 43.5 9.8 
Global & Non-US13,117 12,723 8,946 3.1 42.2 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions94,989 69,792 60,904 36.1 14.6 
Total Investment Advisory and Services Fees:
U.S.753,518 514,436 442,908 46.5 16.1 
Global & Non-US738,086 695,803 655,214 6.1 6.2 
Consolidated company-sponsored investment funds1,243 733 883 69.6 (17.0)
Total1,492,847 1,210,972 1,099,005 23.3 10.2 
Distribution Revenues644,125 522,056 447,050 23.4 16.8 
Shareholder Servicing Fees86,857 78,920 73,777 10.1 7.0 
Total$2,223,829 $1,811,948 $1,619,832 22.7 11.9 
Affiliated - EQH28,334 27,130 27,737 4.4 (2.2)
Non-affiliated(3)
2,195,495 1,784,818 1,592,095 23.0 12.1 
Total$2,223,829 $1,811,948 $1,619,832 22.7 11.9 
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.
(3)As of 12/31/2021, AXA is no longer considered an affiliated party, as such, AXA-related AUM has been reclassified to non-affiliated in 2020 and 2019.
2021 Annual Report
9

Private Wealth Management
We partner with our clients, embracing innovation and independent research to address increasingly complex challenges. Our clients include high-net-worth individuals and families who have created generational wealth as successful business owners, athletes, entertainers, corporate executives and private practice owners. We also provide investment and wealth advice to foundations and endowments, family offices and other entities. Our flexible and extensive investment platform offers a range of solutions, including separately-managed accounts, hedge funds, mutual funds and other investment vehicles, tailored to meet each distinct client's needs. Our investment platform is complimented with a wealth platform that includes complex tax and estate planning, pre-IPO and pre-transaction planning, multi-generational family engagement, and philanthropic advice in addition to tailored approaches to meeting the unique needs of emerging wealth and multi-cultural demographics ("Private Wealth Services").
We manage accounts pursuant to written investment advisory agreements, which generally are terminable at any time or upon relatively short notice by any authorized party, and may not be assigned without the client's consent. For information about our investment advisory and services fees, including performance-based fees, seeRisk Factorsin Item 1A and “Net Revenues – Investment Advisory and Services Fees” in Item 7.
Our Private Wealth Services represented approximately 16%, 15% and 16% of our AUM as of December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The fees we earned from providing these services represented approximately 25%, 24% and 26% of our net revenues for 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Our AUM and revenues are as follows:
Private Wealth Services Assets Under Management
(by Investment Service)
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in millions)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$59,709 $50,854 $50,934 17.4 %(0.2)%
Equity Passively Managed(1)
1,764 666 174 164.9 %
n/m
Total Equity61,473 51,520 51,108 19.3 0.8 
U.S.35,014 28,776 26,982 21.7 6.6 
Global & Non-US26,459 22,744 24,126 16.3 (5.7)
Total Equity61,473 51,520 51,108 19.3 0.8 
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable14,567 14,515 12,170 0.4 19.3 
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt26,929 25,764 25,117 4.5 2.6 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
230 195 372 17.9 (47.6)
Total Fixed Income41,726 40,474 37,659 3.1 7.5 
U.S.36,166 35,042 32,685 3.2 7.2 
Global & Non-US5,561 5,432 4,974 2.4 9.2 
Total Fixed Income41,727 40,474 37,659 3.1 7.5 
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(2):
U.S.6,926 5,927 6,808 16.9 (12.9)
Global & Non-US11,446 7,064 5,484 62.0 28.8 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions18,372 12,991 12,292 41.4 5.7 
Total:
U.S.78,106 69,745 66,475 12.0 4.9 
Global & Non-US43,466 35,240 34,584 23.3 1.9 
Total$121,572 $104,985 $101,059 15.8 3.9 
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.
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Revenues from Private Wealth Services
(by Investment Service)
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in thousands)
Equity:
Equity Actively Managed$584,455 $487,899 $510,911 19.8 %(4.5)%
Equity Passively Managed(1)
4,780 1,113 334 n/m
n/m
Total Equity589,235 489,012 511,245 20.5 (4.3)
U.S.325,154 263,938 267,815 23.2 (1.4)
Global & Non-US264,081 225,074 243,430 17.3 (7.5)
Total Equity589,235 489,012 511,245 20.5 (4.3)
Fixed Income:
Fixed Income Taxable72,404 71,575 63,964 1.2 11.9 
Fixed Income Tax-Exempt130,391 123,952 122,447 5.2 1.2 
Fixed Income Passively Managed(1)
2,634 2,891 4,475 (8.9)(35.4)
Total Fixed Income205,429 198,418 190,886 3.5 3.9 
U.S.167,402 160,666 156,909 4.2 2.4 
Global & Non-US38,027 37,752 33,977 0.7 11.1 
Total Fixed Income205,429 198,418 190,886 3.5 3.9 
Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions(2):
U.S.249,432 109,169 123,216 128.5 (11.4)
Global & Non-US71,524 76,065 68,728 (6.0)10.7 
Total Alternatives/Multi-Asset Solutions320,956 185,234 191,944 73.3 (3.5)
Total Investment Advisory and Services Fees:
U.S.741,987 533,773 547,940 39.0 (2.6)
Global & Non-US373,632 338,891 346,135 10.3 (2.1)
Total1,115,619 872,664 894,075 27.8 (2.4)
Distribution Revenues7,641 7,137 7,289 7.1 (2.1)
Shareholder Servicing Fees2,882 2,871 3,141 0.4 (8.6)
Total$1,126,142 $882,672 $904,505 27.6 (2.4)
(1)Includes index and enhanced index services.
(2)Includes certain multi-asset solutions and services not included in equity or fixed income services.

2021 Annual Report
11

Bernstein Research Services
We offer high-quality fundamental and quantitative research and trade execution services in equities and listed options to institutional investors, such as mutual fund and hedge fund managers, pension funds and other institutional investors ("Bernstein Research Services"). We serve our clients, which are based in the United States and in other major markets around the world, through our trading professionals, who are primarily based in New York, London and Hong Kong, and our research analysts, who provide fundamental company and industry research along with quantitative research into securities valuation and factors affecting stock-price movements.
Additionally, we provide equity capital markets services to issuers of publicly-traded securities, primarily in initial public offerings and follow-on offerings, generally acting as co-manager in such offerings.
We earn revenues for providing investment research to, and executing brokerage transactions for, institutional clients. These clients compensate us principally by directing us to execute brokerage transactions on their behalf, for which we earn commissions, and to a lesser but increasing extent, by paying us directly for research through commission sharing agreements or cash payments. Bernstein Research Services accounted for approximately 10%, 12% and 12% of our net revenues for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
For information regarding trends in fee rates charged for brokerage transactions, see “Risk Factors” in Item 1A.
Our Bernstein Research Services revenues are as follows:
Revenues from Bernstein Research Services
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in thousands)  
Bernstein Research Services$452,017 $459,744 $407,911 (1.7 %)12.7 %
Custody
Our U.S. based broker-dealer subsidiary acts as custodian for the majority of our Private Wealth Management AUM and some of our Institutional AUM. Other custodian arrangements, directed by clients, include banks, trust companies, brokerage firms and other financial institutions.
Human Capital Management
As a leading global investment management and research firm, we bring together a wide range of insights, expertise and innovations to advance the interests of our clients around the world. The intellectual capital of our employees is collectively the most important asset of our firm, so the long-term sustainability of our firm is heavily dependent on our people. We are keenly focused on:
fostering an inclusive culture by incorporating diversity and inclusion in all levels of our business;
encouraging innovation;
developing, retaining and recruiting high quality talent; and
aligning employees’ incentives and risk taking with those of the firm.
As a result, we have a strong firm culture that helps us maximize performance and drive excellence. Further, our firm’s role as a fiduciary is embedded in our culture. As a fiduciary, our firm’s primary objective is to act in our clients' best interests and help them reach their financial goals.
Also, our Board of Directors (the "Board") and committees of the Board, particularly our Compensation and Workplace Practices Committee, provide oversight into various human capital matters, including emerging human capital management risks and strategies to mitigate our exposure to those risks. Furthermore, our Board and Board committees evaluate the overall effectiveness of our social responsibility policies, goals and programs and recommend changes to management as necessary. These collaborative efforts contribute to the overall framework that guides how AB attracts, retains and develops a workforce that supports our values and strategic initiatives.
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Talent Acquisition
AB seeks to achieve excellence in business and investment performance by recruiting and hiring a workforce with diversity of thought, backgrounds and experiences. We believe that diverse and inclusive teams generate better ideas and reach more balanced decisions. We seek to leverage the unique backgrounds of our employees to meet the needs of a broad range of clients and engage with the communities in which we operate. We engage several external organizations to assist in attracting and recruiting top talent at all levels, with a particular focus on attracting diverse talent. We have a sizable group of internal human capital associates focused on recruiting, and we have implemented various human capital initiatives to develop and provide for a balanced workforce. Additionally, we offer internship programs for students to work in positions across functional areas of the firm, and an important part of our college recruitment strategy is to convert a high percentage of our interns into full-time employees.
Employee Engagement
We believe a workforce is most productive, effective and highly engaged when they feel connected to our business and culture. We seek to provide diverse work experiences, professional development opportunities, competitive compensation and benefits, an inclusive and diverse culture and social engagement projects to keep our employees motivated, connected to our firm and engaged throughout their careers. We strive to create a culture of intellectual curiosity and collaboration, creating an environment where our employees can thrive and do their best work. We foster growth and advancement through different training avenues to develop skill sets, create opportunities for networking, both internally and externally, and we encourage internal mobility as a part of our employees' career trajectory.
It is important that our employees are not only connected to our business but also to the communities in which we operate. As such, AB offers many opportunities for our employees to volunteer in the communities in which we serve, including our firm-wide philanthropic initiative, AB Gives Back. Other initiatives in support of these objectives include a five-year refresh award, whereby employees receive two additional weeks off for every five years of service. In addition, we utilize AB Voice, a periodic survey designed to measure employee satisfaction and engagement, allowing us to identify and address performance gaps.
Diversity and Inclusion
We continue to believe that diverse and inclusive teams generate better ideas and best serve the needs of our clients. The events of the last two years have provided an unforeseen yet unique opportunity to reflect, adapt and broaden our Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) strategy. D&I continues to be a key strategic priority for AB and our ongoing commitment to embed it across all facets of the firm has further reinforced our company values. It has also allowed for a more purposeful approach to engagement with our people, our clients and the communities in which we operate.
Also, our firm's community engagement efforts have been further integrated under the D&I umbrella. Under the new structure, we are better able to streamline and formalize the process for assessing corporate partnerships and philanthropic giving through the lens of D&I, allowing for a more cohesive overall strategy.
We have enhanced our talent attraction and retention approach to position ourselves as an employer of choice and invest in the development of our people. We have developed a diverse talent strategy with a goal of developing a deeper understanding of the needs of diverse talent and also equipping managers with the necessary tools to effectively manage an increasingly diverse workforce. The strategy includes incorporating the concept of inclusive leadership into the firm-wide leadership development curriculum and enhancing our exit interview process for diverse talent by conducting in-person interviews, which will better enable us to detect trends and mitigate attrition.
Our people remain our top priority, especially during these times of uncertainty. Over the course of the last year, there has been a continued focus on education and deepening engagement across all pillars of our strategy to include Employee Resource Groups ("ERGs"), corporate partnerships, and the overall experience at AB. ERGs have been a major proponent of these efforts by cultivating spaces for courageous conversations, encouraging professional development and personal wellness, and raising awareness for various underrepresented communities.
As we continue to seek opportunities to further our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are leveraging best practices from industry peers. Our D&I journey continues to evolve; addressing racial and gender equity, increasing access to diverse talent and monitoring client trends remain top priorities.
2021 Annual Report
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Compensation and Benefits
We have demonstrated a history of investing in our workforce by offering competitive compensation. We utilize a variety of compensation elements, including base salaries, annual short-term compensation awards (i.e., cash bonuses) and, for those of our employees who earn more than $300,000 annually, a long-term compensation award program. Long-term incentive compensation awards generally are denominated in restricted AB Holding Units. We utilize this structure to foster a stronger sense of ownership and align the interests of our employees directly with the interests of our Unitholders and indirectly with the interests of our clients, as strong performance for our clients generally contributes directly to increases in AUM and improved financial performance for the firm. Furthermore, we offer to all eligible employees health and welfare, 401(k) profit-sharing and other benefits programs, including a flexible in-office work schedule that permits working remotely two days weekly. In the U.S. (and elsewhere, although benefits may differ by jurisdiction):
We provide employee wages that are competitive and consistent with employee positions, skill levels, experience, knowledge and geographic location;
We engage nationally recognized compensation and benefits consulting firms to independently evaluate the effectiveness of our executive compensation and benefit programs, as well as consulting services relating to the amount and form of compensation paid to employees other than executives, and to provide benchmarking against our peers;
We provide merit-based and performance-based annual increases and incentive compensation, which are communicated to employees at the time of hiring and documented through our talent management process as part of our annual review procedures and upon internal transfer and/or promotion; and
The firm makes benefits available to all eligible employees, including health insurance, paid and unpaid leaves, a retirement plan, and life and disability/accident coverage. We also offer a variety of voluntary benefits that allow employees to select the options that meet their needs, including flexible time-off, telemedicine, paid parental leave, adoption assistance, prescription savings solutions, Veterans' Health Administration coverage in U.S. medical plans, a personalized wellness program and a financial wellness program.
Health and Safety
Our ongoing response to the COVID-19 global pandemic demonstrates how highly we value the health and safety of our employees. At the initial onset of COVID-19 during the first quarter of 2020, we quickly responded in the various jurisdictions where we operate, including the U.S., EMEA (including the U.K., Luxembourg, France and other jurisdictions), Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Taiwan. We implemented business continuity measures, including travel restrictions and a work-from-home requirement for almost all personnel (other than a relatively small number of employees whose physical presence in our offices was considered critical), which lasted through the second quarter of 2021. Since then, working in the office generally has been voluntary, with mandatory in-office participation occurring only at certain times when COVID-19 has ebbed significantly in the communities in which we operate. Throughout the pandemic, we have conscientiously ensured operating continuity for all critical functions.
We also instituted a confidential notification process for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone else who has tested positive. As the COVID-19 crisis has continued to evolve since the lockdown in the first quarter of 2020, certain key functions of the business, such as Risk Management, Business Continuity, Finance and Human Capital, have maintained constant communication and monitored the evolution of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and advised of key developments. Additionally, we continue to monitor communications from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in the third quarter of 2021 engaged an epidemiologist on a consulting basis, to ensure we have current and accurate information. We have also instituted various other protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increased cleaning protocols, masking requirements where permitted by local law and testing protocols for large gatherings.
Employees
As of December 31, 2021, our firm had 4,118 full-time employees, compared to 3,929 full-time employees as of December 31, 2020, representing a 4.8% increase.
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As of December 31, 2021, our employees reflected the following characteristics and locations:
Region:Female% FemaleMale% MaleGrand Total% of Total
Americas1,12437 %1,94363 %3,06775 %
Asia ex Japan22551 %21449 %43911 %
EMEA18335 %33365 %51613 %
Japan4655 %3845 %84%
Grand Total(1)
1,57838 %2,52862 %4,106100 %
(1)The table above only reflects employees who have self-reported as male or female and as such may not reconcile to our total of 4,118 full-time employees.
In connection with our establishing 1,250 roles in Nashville, Tennessee, we have relocated many of our employees from our New York City and White Plains, New York, locations. Employees whose roles are in-scope for the move, but who are not relocating, receive a separation package. We expect layoffs to continue on a rolling basis until all in-scope roles are filled in Nashville.
Information about our Executive Officers
Please refer to "Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance" below for information relating to our firm's executive officers.
Service Marks
We have registered a number of service marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and various foreign trademark offices, including the mark “AllianceBernstein.” The logo set forth below is a service mark of AB:
ab-20211231_g7.jpg
In 2015, we established a new brand identity by prominently incorporating “AB” into our brand architecture, while maintaining the legal names of our corporate entities. With this and other related refinements, our company, and our Institutional and Retail businesses, are referred to as “AllianceBernstein (AB)” or simply “AB.” Private Wealth Management and Bernstein Research Services are referred to as “AB Bernstein.” Also, we adopted the logo service mark described above.
In connection with the Bernstein Transaction, we acquired all of the rights in, and title to, the Bernstein service marks, including the mark “Bernstein.”
In connection with an acquisition we completed in 2013, we acquired all of the rights in, and title to, the W.P. Stewart & Co. service marks, including the logo “WPSTEWART.”
Service marks are generally valid and may be renewed indefinitely, as long as they are in use and/or their registrations are properly maintained.
Regulation
Virtually all aspects of our business are subject to various federal and state laws and regulations, rules of various securities regulators and exchanges, and laws in the foreign countries in which our subsidiaries conduct business. These laws and regulations primarily are intended to protect clients and fund shareholders and generally grant supervisory agencies broad administrative powers, including the power to limit or restrict the carrying on of business for failure to comply with such laws and regulations. Possible sanctions that may be imposed on us include the suspension of individual employees, limitations on engaging in business for specific periods, the revocation of the registration as an investment adviser or broker-dealer, censures and fines.

2021 Annual Report
15

AB, AB Holding, the General Partner and five of our subsidiaries (Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC (“SCB LLC”), AB Broadly Syndicated Loan Manager LLC, AB Custom Alternative Solutions LLC, AB Private Credit Investors LLC and W.P. Stewart Asset Management Ltd.) are registered with the SEC as investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act. Additionally, AB Holding is an NYSE-listed company and, accordingly, is subject to applicable regulations promulgated by the NYSE. Also, AB, SCB LLC and AB Custom Alternative Solutions LLC are registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) as commodity pool operators and commodity trading advisers; SCB LLC also is registered with the CFTC as a commodities introducing broker.
Each U.S. Fund is registered with the SEC under the Investment Company Act and each Non-U.S. Fund is subject to the laws in the jurisdiction in which the fund is registered. For example, our platform of Luxembourg-based funds operates pursuant to Luxembourg laws and regulations, including Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities Directives, and is authorized and supervised by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (“CSSF”), the primary regulator in Luxembourg. AllianceBernstein Investor Services, Inc., one of our subsidiaries, is registered with the SEC as a transfer and servicing agent.
SCB LLC and another of our subsidiaries, AllianceBernstein Investments, Inc., are registered with the SEC as broker-dealers, and both are members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. In addition, SCB LLC is a member of the NYSE and other principal U.S. exchanges.
Many of our subsidiaries are subject to the oversight of regulatory authorities in the jurisdictions outside the United States in which they operate, including the Ontario Securities Commission, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, the European Securities and Markets Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K., the CSSF in Luxembourg, the Financial Services Agency in Japan, the Securities & Futures Commission in Hong Kong, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Financial Services Commission in South Korea, the Financial Supervisory Commission in Taiwan and The Securities and Exchange Board of India. While these regulatory requirements often may be comparable to the requirements of the SEC and other U.S. regulators, they are sometimes more restrictive and may cause us to incur substantial expenditures of time and money related to our compliance efforts. For additional information relating to the regulations that impact our business, please refer to "Risk Factors" in Item 1A.
History and Structure
We have been in the investment research and management business for more than 50 years. Bernstein was founded in 1967. Alliance Capital was founded in 1971 when the investment management department of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc. (since November 2000, a part of Credit Suisse Group) merged with the investment advisory business of Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
In April 1988, AB Holding “went public” as a master limited partnership. AB Holding Units, which trade under the ticker symbol “AB,” have been listed on the NYSE since that time.
In October 1999, AB Holding reorganized by transferring its business and assets to AB, a newly-formed operating partnership, in exchange for all of the AB Units (“Reorganization”). Since the date of the Reorganization, AB has conducted the business formerly conducted by AB Holding and AB Holding’s activities have consisted of owning AB Units and engaging in related activities. Unlike AB Holding Units, AB Units do not trade publicly and are subject to significant restrictions on transfer. The General Partner is the general partner of both AB and AB Holding.
In October 2000, our two legacy firms, Alliance Capital and Bernstein, combined, bringing together Alliance Capital’s expertise in growth equity and corporate fixed income investing and its family of retail mutual funds, with Bernstein’s expertise in value equity investing, tax-exempt fixed income management, and its Private Wealth Management and Bernstein Research Services businesses.
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As of December 31, 2021, the condensed ownership structure of AB is as follows (for a more complete description of our ownership structure, see “Principal Security Holders” in Item 12):
ab-20211231_g8.jpg
The General Partner owns 100,000 general partnership units in AB Holding and a 1% general partnership interest in AB. Including these general partnership interests, EQH, directly and through certain of its subsidiaries (see “Principal Security Holders” in Item 12), had an approximate 64.5% economic interest in AB as of December 31, 2021.
Competition
We compete in all aspects of our business with numerous investment management firms, mutual fund sponsors, brokerage and investment banking firms, insurance companies, banks, savings and loan associations, and other financial institutions that often provide investment products with similar features and objectives as those we offer. Our competitors offer a wide range of financial services to the same customers that we seek to serve. Some of our competitors are larger, have a broader range of product choices and investment capabilities, conduct business in more markets, and have substantially greater resources than we do. These factors may place us at a competitive disadvantage, and we can give no assurance that our strategies and efforts to maintain and enhance our current client relationships, and create new ones, will be successful.
In addition, EQH and its subsidiaries provide financial services, some of which compete with those we offer. The AB Partnership Agreement specifically allows EQH and its subsidiaries (other than the General Partner) to compete with AB and to pursue opportunities that may be available to us. EQH and certain of its subsidiaries have substantially greater financial resources than we do and are not obligated to provide resources to us.
To grow our business, we believe we must be able to compete effectively for AUM. Key competitive factors include:
our investment performance for clients;
our commitment to place the interests of our clients first;
the quality of our research;
our ability to attract, motivate and retain highly skilled, and often highly specialized, personnel;
the array of investment products we offer;
the fees we charge;
Morningstar/Lipper rankings for the AB Funds;
our ability to sell our actively-managed investment services despite the fact that many investors favor passive services;
our operational effectiveness;
our ability to further develop and market our brand; and
our global presence.
Competition is an important risk that our business faces and should be considered along with the other factors we discuss in “Risk Factors” in Item 1A.
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Available Information
AB and AB Holding file or furnish annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, amendments to such reports, and other reports (and amendments thereto) required to comply with federal securities laws, including Section 16 beneficial ownership reports on Forms 3, 4 and 5, registration statements and proxy statements. We maintain an Internet site (http://www.alliancebernstein.com) where the public can view these reports, free of charge, as soon as reasonably practicable after each report is filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. In addition, the SEC maintains an Internet site (http://www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Please consider this section along with the description of our business in Item 1, the competition section immediately above and AB’s financial information contained in Items 7 and 8. The majority of the risk factors discussed below directly affect AB. These risk factors also affect AB Holding because AB Holding’s principal source of income and cash flow is attributable to its investment in AB. See also “Cautions Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” in Item 7.
Business-related Risks, including risks relating to COVID-19
Our revenues and results of operations depend on the market value and composition of our AUM, which can fluctuate significantly based on various factors, including many factors outside of our control.
We derive most of our revenues from investment advisory and services fees, which typically are calculated as a percentage of the value of AUM as of a specified date, or as a percentage of the value of average AUM for the applicable billing period, and vary with the type of investment service, the size of the account and the total amount of assets we manage for a particular client. The value and composition of our AUM can be adversely affected by several factors, including:
Market Factors. Our AUM remain sensitive to the volatility associated with global financial market conditions. For example, the dramatic securities market declines experienced during March 2020, which resulted from the global effects of COVID-19, caused a significant reduction in our AUM. Markets and AUM levels have since recovered to new highs following unprecedented, coordinated monetary and fiscal policy support and the approval of vaccines to help remedy the global pandemic. However, we recognize that, due to continued uncertainty associated with these circumstances, markets may remain volatile and, accordingly, there remains risk of a significant reduction in our revenues and net income in future periods, particularly if the negative effects on the global economy from COVID accelerate. Global economies and financial markets are increasingly interconnected, which increases the probability that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact a different country or region. Conditions affecting the general economy, including political, social or economic instability at the local, regional or global level, such as the U.S. civil unrest centered around racial inequity experienced in 2020 or the riot experienced in Washington D.C. in January 2021 surrounding the transition to a new Presidential administration, may also affect the market value of our AUM. Health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other incidents that interrupt the expected course of events, such as natural disasters, war or civil disturbance, acts of terrorism (whether foreign or domestic), power outages and other unforeseeable and external events, and the public response to or fear of such diseases or events, have had and may in the future have a significant adverse effect on financial markets and our AUM, revenues and net income. Furthermore, the preventative and protective health-related actions, such as business activity suspensions and population lock-downs, that governments have taken, and may continue to take, in response to COVID-19 have resulted, and may continue to result, in periods of business interruption, inability to obtain raw materials, supplies and component parts, and reduced or disrupted operations. These circumstances have caused, and may continue to cause, significant economic disruption and high levels of unemployment, as well as inflationary pressures, which could adversely affect the financial condition and results of operations of many of the companies in which we invest, and likely reduce the market value of their securities and thus our AUM and revenues. Furthermore, significant market volatility and uncertainty, and reductions in the availability of margin financing, can significantly limit the liquidity of certain asset backed and other securities, making it at times impossible to sell these securities at prices reflecting their true economic value. While liquidity conditions have improved considerably since the first quarter of 2020 following the stimulus programs announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury, we recognize the possibility that conditions could deteriorate in the future. Lack of liquidity makes it more difficult for our funds to meet redemption requests. If liquidity were to worsen, this may have a significant adverse effect on our AUM, revenues and net income in the future.
Client Preferences. Generally, our clients may withdraw their assets at any time and on short notice. Also, changing market dynamics and investment trends, particularly with respect to sponsors of defined benefit plans choosing to invest in less risky investments and the ongoing shift to lower-fee passive services described below, may continue to reduce interest in some of the investment products we offer, and/or clients and prospects may continue to seek investment products that we may not currently offer. Loss of, or decreases in, AUM reduces our investment advisory and services fees and revenues.
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Our Investment Performance. Our ability to achieve investment returns for clients that meet or exceed investment returns for comparable asset classes and competing investment services is a key consideration when clients decide to keep their assets with us or invest additional assets, and when a prospective client is deciding whether to invest with us. Poor investment performance, both in absolute terms and/or relative to peers and stated benchmarks, may result in clients withdrawing assets and prospective clients choosing to invest with competitors.
Investing Trends. Our fee rates can vary significantly among the various investment products and services we offer to our clients (see “Net Revenues” in Item 7 for additional information regarding our fee rates); our fee realization rate fluctuates as clients shift assets between accounts or products with different fee structures.
Service Changes. We may be required to reduce our fee levels, restructure the fees we charge and/or adjust the services we offer to our clients because of, among other things, regulatory initiatives (whether industry-wide or specifically targeted), changing technology in the asset management business (including algorithmic strategies and emerging financial technology), court decisions and competitive considerations. A reduction in fee levels would reduce our revenues.
A decrease in the value of our AUM, a decrease in the amount of AUM we manage, an adverse mix shift in our AUM and/or a reduction in the level of fees we charge would adversely affect our investment advisory fees and revenues. A reduction in revenues, without a commensurate reduction in expenses, adversely affects our results of operations.
The industry-wide shift from actively-managed investment services to passive services has adversely affected our investment advisory and services fees, revenues and results of operations, and this trend may continue.
Our competitive environment has become increasingly difficult over the past decade, as active managers, which invest based on individual security selection, have, on average, consistently underperformed passive services, which invest based on market indices. Active performance relative to benchmarks as of mid-2021 remained mixed, with 47% of active managers outperforming their passive benchmarks for the 12 months ended June 30, 2021 (latest data available). Non-U.S. stock active funds fared better with 59% outperforming benchmarks, while 40% of U.S. large-cap stock active funds outperformed. Actively-managed bond funds generally performed well in 2021, with intermediate core, corporate and high yield funds each generally outperforming benchmarks.
Flows into actively-managed funds improved industry-wide in 2021, with U.S. industry-wide active mutual fund flows rebounding to inflows of $217 billion in 2021, contrasted with $196 billion of outflows in 2020. Active fixed income U.S. mutual fund inflows accelerated to $366 billion in 2021, compared to $246 billion in 2020. Furthermore, active equity U.S. mutual fund outflows decelerated to $198 billion in 2021, compared to outflows of $338 billion in 2020. However, the improvement in active fund flows was surpassed by increased demand for passive strategies in the U.S., as industry-wide total passive mutual net inflows increased to $918 billion in 2021 from $361 billion in 2020. In this environment, organic growth through net inflows is difficult to achieve for active managers, such as AB, and requires taking market share from other active managers.
The significant shift from active services to passive services adversely affects Bernstein Research Services revenues as well. Institutional global market trading volumes continue to be pressured (notwithstanding the heightened market volatility and trading volume predominantly relating to COVID-19 in the first half of 2020) by persistent active equity outflows and passive equity inflows. As a result, portfolio turnover has declined and investors hold fewer shares that are actively traded by managers.
Our reputation could suffer if we are unable to deliver consistent, competitive investment performance.
Our business is based on the trust and confidence of our clients. Damage to our reputation, resulting from poor or inconsistent investment performance, among other factors, can reduce substantially our AUM and impair our ability to maintain or grow our business.
EQH and its subsidiaries provide a significant amount of our AUM and fund a significant portion of our seed investments, and if our agreements with them terminate or they withdraw capital support it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and/or financial condition.
EQH (our parent company) and its subsidiaries constitute our largest client. Our EQH affiliates represented approximately 17% of our AUM as of December 31, 2021, and we earned approximately 3% of our net revenues from services we provided to them in 2021. Our related investment management agreements are terminable at any time or on short notice by either party, and EQH is not under any obligation to maintain any level of AUM with us. A material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and/or financial condition could result if EQH were to terminate its investment management agreements with us.
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Our business is dependent on investment advisory agreements with clients, and selling and distribution agreements with various financial intermediaries and consultants, which generally are subject to termination or non-renewal on short notice.
We derive most of our revenues pursuant to written investment management agreements (or other arrangements) with institutional investors, mutual funds and private wealth clients, and selling and distribution agreements with financial intermediaries that distribute AB Funds. Generally, the investment management agreements (and other arrangements), including our agreements with EQH and its subsidiaries, are terminable at any time or upon relatively short notice by either party. The investment management agreements pursuant to which we manage the U.S. Funds must be renewed and approved by the Funds’ boards of directors annually. A significant majority of the directors are independent. Consequently, there can be no assurance that the board of directors of each fund will approve the fund’s investment management agreement each year, or will not condition its approval on revised terms that may be adverse to us. In addition, investors in AB Funds can redeem their investments without notice. Any termination of, or failure to renew, a significant number of these agreements, or a significant increase in redemption rates, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and business prospects.
Similarly, the selling and distribution agreements with securities firms, brokers, banks and other financial intermediaries are terminable by either party upon notice (generally 30 days) and do not obligate the financial intermediary to sell any specific amount of fund shares. These intermediaries generally offer their clients investment products that compete with our products. In addition, certain institutional investors rely on consultants to advise them about choosing an investment adviser and some of our services may not be considered among the best choices by these consultants. As a result, investment consultants may advise their clients to move their assets invested with us to other investment advisers, which could result in significant net outflows.
Lastly, our Private Wealth Services rely on referrals from financial planners, registered investment advisers and other professionals. We cannot be certain that we will continue to have access to, or receive referrals from, these third parties. Loss of such access or referrals could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and business prospects.
Performance-based fee arrangements with our clients may cause greater fluctuations in our net revenues.
We sometimes charge our clients performance-based fees, whereby we charge a base advisory fee and are eligible to earn an additional performance-based fee or incentive allocation that is calculated as either a percentage of absolute investment results or a percentage of investment results in excess of a stated benchmark over a specified period of time. Some performance-based fees include a high-watermark provision, which generally provides that if a client account under-performs relative to its performance target (whether in absolute terms or relative to a specified benchmark), it must gain back such under-performance before we can collect future performance-based fees. Therefore, if we fail to achieve the performance target for a particular period, we will not earn a performance-based fee for that period and, for accounts with a high-watermark provision, our ability to earn future performance-based fees will be impaired.
We are eligible to earn performance-based fees on 6.7%, 8.7% and 0.6% of the assets we manage for institutional clients, private wealth clients and retail clients, respectively (in total, 4.5% of our AUM). If the percentage of our AUM subject to performance-based fees increases, seasonality and volatility of revenue and earnings are likely to become more significant. Our performance-based fees were $245.1 million, $132.6 million and $99.6 million in 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
The revenues generated by Bernstein Research Services may be adversely affected by circumstances beyond our control, including declines in brokerage transaction rates, declines in global market volumes, failure to settle our trades by significant counterparties and the effects of MiFID II and Brexit.
Electronic, or “low-touch,” trading represents a significant percentage of buy-side trading activity and typically produces transaction fees that are significantly lower than the price of traditional full service fee rates. As a result, blended pricing throughout our industry is lower now than it was historically, and price declines may continue. In addition, fee rates we charge and charged by other brokers for brokerage services have historically experienced price pressure, and we expect these trends to continue. Also, while increases in transaction volume and market share often can offset decreases in rates, this may not continue.
In addition, the failure or inability of any of our broker-dealer's significant counterparties to perform could expose us to substantial expenditures and adversely affect our revenues. For example, SCB LLC, as a member of clearing and settlement organizations, would be required to settle open trades of any non-performing counterparty. This exposes us to the mark-to-market adjustment on the trades between trade date and settlement date, which could be significant, especially during periods of severe market volatility. Also, our ability to access liquidity in such situations may be limited by what our funding relationships are able to offer us at such times.
We discuss the risks associated with the second installment of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”) and Brexit below in "Legal and Regulatory-related Risks" in this Item 1A.
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Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and various other currencies can adversely affect our AUM, revenues and results of operations.
Although significant portions of our net revenues and expenses, as well as our AUM, presently are denominated in U.S. dollars, we have subsidiaries and clients outside of the United States with functional currencies other than the U.S. dollar. Weakening of these currencies relative to the U.S. dollar adversely affects the value in U.S. dollar terms of our revenues and our AUM denominated in these other currencies. Accordingly, fluctuations in U.S. dollar exchange rates affect our AUM, revenues and reported financial results from one period to the next.
We may not be successful in our efforts to hedge our exposure to such fluctuations, which could negatively impact our revenues and reported financial results.
Our seed capital investments are subject to market risk. While we enter into various futures, forwards, swap and option contracts to economically hedge many of these investments, we also may be exposed to market risk and credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties to these derivative instruments.
We have a seed investment program for the purpose of building track records and assisting with the marketing initiatives pertaining to our firm's new products. These seed capital investments are subject to market risk. Our risk management team oversees a seed hedging program that attempts to minimize this risk, subject to practical and cost considerations. Also, not all seed investments are deemed appropriate to hedge, and in those cases we are exposed to market risk. In addition, we may be subject to basis risk in that we cannot always hedge with precision our market exposure and, as a result, we may be subject to relative spreads between market sectors. As a result, volatility in the capital markets may cause significant changes in our period-to-period financial and operating results.
We use various derivative instruments, including futures, forwards, swap and option contracts, in conjunction with our seed hedging program. While in most cases broad market risks are hedged, our hedges are imperfect and some market risk remains. In addition, our use of derivatives results in counterparty risk (i.e., the risk that we may be exposed to credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties to these derivative instruments), regulatory risk (e.g., short selling restrictions) and cash/synthetic basis risk (i.e., the risk that the underlying positions do not move identically to the related derivative instruments).
We may engage in strategic transactions that could pose risks.
As part of our business strategy, we consider potential strategic transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, consolidations, joint venture partnerships and similar transactions, some of which may be material. These transactions, if undertaken, may involve various risks and present financial, managerial and operational challenges, including:.
adverse effects on our earnings if acquired intangible assets or goodwill become impaired;
existence of unknown liabilities or contingencies that arise after closing;
potential disputes with counterparties; and
the possible need for us to increase our firm's leverage or, if we fund the purchase price of a transaction with AB Units or AB Holding Units, likely dilution to our existing unitholders.
Acquisitions also pose the risk that any business we acquire may lose customers or employees or could under-perform relative to expectations. Additionally, the loss of investment personnel poses the risk that we may lose the AUM we expected to manage, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
We may not accurately value the securities we hold on behalf of our clients or our company investments.
In accordance with applicable regulatory requirements, contractual obligations or client direction, we employ procedures for the pricing and valuation of securities and other positions held in client accounts or for company investments. We have established a Valuation Committee, consisting of senior officers and employees, which oversees pricing controls and valuation processes. If market quotations for a security are not readily available, the Valuation Committee determines a fair value for the security.
Extraordinary volatility in financial markets, significant liquidity constraints or our failure to adequately consider one or more factors when determining the fair value of a security based on information with limited market observability could result in our failing to properly value securities we hold for our clients or investments accounted for on our balance sheet. Improper valuation likely would result in our basing fee calculations on inaccurate AUM figures, our striking incorrect net asset values for company-sponsored mutual funds or hedge funds or, in the case of company investments, our inaccurately calculating and reporting our financial condition and operating results. Although the overall percentage of our AUM that we fair value based on information with limited market observability is not significant, inaccurate fair value determinations can harm our clients, create regulatory issues and damage our reputation.
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We may not have sufficient information to confirm or review the accuracy of valuations provided to us by underlying external managers for the funds in which certain of our alternative investment products invest.
Certain of our alternative investment services invest in funds managed by external managers (“External Managers”) rather than investing directly in securities and other instruments. As a result, our abilities will be limited with regard to (i) monitoring such investments, (ii) regularly obtaining complete, accurate and current information with respect to such investments and (iii) exercising control over such investments. Accordingly, we may not have sufficient information to confirm or review the accuracy of valuations provided to us by External Managers. In addition, we will be required to rely on External Managers’ compliance with any applicable investment guidelines and restrictions. Any failure of an External Manager to operate within such guidelines or to provide accurate information with respect to the investment could subject our alternative investment products to losses and cause damage to our reputation.
The quantitative and systematic models we use in certain of our investment services may contain errors, resulting in imprecise risk assessments and unintended output.
We use quantitative and systematic models in a variety of our investment services, generally in combination with fundamental research. These models are developed by senior quantitative professionals and typically are implemented by IT professionals. Our Model Risk Oversight Committee oversees the model governance framework and associated model review activities, which are then executed by our Model Risk Team. However, due to the complexity and large data dependency of such models, it is possible that errors in the models could exist and our controls could fail to detect such errors. Failure to detect errors could result in client losses and reputational damage.
The financial services industry is intensely competitive.
We compete on the basis of a number of factors, including our investment performance for our clients, our array of investment services, innovation, reputation and price. By having a global presence, we often face competitors with more experience and more established relationships with clients, regulators and industry participants in the relevant market, which could adversely affect our ability to expand. Furthermore, if we are unable to maintain and/or continue to improve our investment performance, our client flows may be adversely affected, which may make it more difficult for us to compete effectively.
Also, increased competition could reduce the demand for our products and services, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and business prospects. For additional information regarding competitive factors, see “Competition” in Item 1.
Human Capital-related Risks
We may be unable to continue to attract, motivate and retain key personnel, and the cost to retain key personnel could put pressure on our adjusted operating margin.
Our business depends on our ability to attract, motivate and retain highly skilled, and often highly specialized, technical, investment, managerial and executive personnel, and there is no assurance that we will be able to do so.
The market for these professionals is extremely competitive. Certain of these professionals often maintain strong, personal relationships with investors in our products and other members of the business community so their departure may cause us to lose client accounts or result in fewer opportunities to win new business, either of which factors could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and business prospects.
Additionally, a decline in revenues may limit our ability to pay our employees at competitive levels, and maintaining (or increasing) compensation without a revenue increase, in order to retain key personnel, may adversely affect our operating margin. As a result, we remain vigilant about aligning our cost structure (including headcount) with our revenue base. For additional information regarding our compensation practices, see "Compensation Discussion and Analysis" in Item 11.
Our process of relocating our headquarters may not be executed as we envision.
We have established our corporate headquarters in and expect to relocate a total of approximately 1,250 jobs previously located in the New York metropolitan area to Nashville, Tennessee (for additional information, see “Relocation Strategy” in Item 7). Although the eventual impact on AB from this process is not yet known, the uncertainty created by these circumstances could have a significant adverse effect on AB’s ability to motivate and retain current employees. Further significant managerial and operational challenges could arise, such as ineffective transfer of institutional knowledge from current employees to newly-hired employees, if AB experiences significantly greater attrition among current employees than the firm anticipates in connection with the relocation and/or if the firm encounters more difficulty than expected in hiring qualified employees to help staff our Nashville headquarters.
Additionally, our estimates for both the transition costs and the corresponding expense savings relating to our headquarters relocation, which we discuss in more detail in “Relocation Strategy” in Item 7, are based on our current assumptions of employee relocation costs, severance, and overlapping compensation and occupancy costs. If our assumptions turn out to be inaccurate, our expenses and operating income could be adversely affected.
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Operational, Technology and Cyber-related Risks
Technology failures and disruptions, including failures to properly safeguard confidential information, can significantly constrain our operations and result in significant time and expense to remediate, which could result in a material adverse effect on our results of operations and business prospects.
We are highly dependent on software and related technologies throughout our business, including both proprietary systems and those provided by third-party vendors. We use our technology to, among other things, obtain securities pricing information, process client transactions, store and maintain data, and provide reports and other services to our clients. Despite our protective measures, including measures designed to effectively secure information through system security technology and established and tested business continuity plans, we may still experience system delays and interruptions as a result of natural disasters, hardware failures, software defects, power outages, acts of war and third-party failures. We cannot predict with certainty all of the adverse effects that could result from our failure, or the failure of a third party, to efficiently address and resolve these delays and interruptions. These adverse effects could include the inability to perform critical business functions or failure to comply with financial reporting and other regulatory requirements, which could lead to loss of client confidence, reputational damage, exposure to disciplinary action and liability to our clients.
Many of the software applications that we use in our business are licensed from, and supported, upgraded and maintained by, third-party vendors. A suspension or termination of certain of these licenses or the related support, upgrades and maintenance could cause temporary system delays or interruption. Additionally, technology rapidly evolves and we cannot guarantee that our competitors may not implement more advanced technology platforms for their products and services, which may place us at a competitive disadvantage and adversely affect our results of operations and business prospects.
Also, we could be subject to losses if we fail to properly safeguard sensitive and confidential information. As part of our normal operations, we maintain and transmit confidential information about our clients as well as proprietary information relating to our business operations. Although we take protective measures, our systems still could be vulnerable to cyber attack or other forms of unauthorized access (including computer viruses) that have a security impact, such as an authorized employee or vendor inadvertently or intentionally causing us to release confidential or proprietary information. Such disclosure could, among other things, allow competitors access to our proprietary business information and require significant time and expense to investigate and remediate the breach. Moreover, loss of confidential client information could harm our reputation and subject us to liability under laws that protect confidential personal data, resulting in increased costs or loss of revenues.
Any significant security breach of our information and cyber security infrastructure, as well as our failure to properly escalate and respond to such an incident, may significantly harm our operations and reputation.
It is critical that we ensure the continuity and effectiveness of our information and cyber security infrastructure, policies, procedures and capabilities to protect our computer and telecommunications systems and the data that reside on or are transmitted through them and contracted third-party systems. Although we take protective measures, including measures to effectively secure information through system security technology, our technology systems may still be vulnerable to unauthorized access, supply chain attacks, computer viruses or other events that have a security impact, such as an external attack by one or more cyber criminals (including phishing attacks attempting to obtain confidential information and ransomware attacks attempting to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid), which could materially harm our operations and reputation. Additionally, while we take precautions to password protect and encrypt our laptops and sensitive information on our other mobile electronic devices, if such devices are stolen, misplaced or left unattended, they may become vulnerable to hacking or other unauthorized use, creating a possible security risk and resulting in potentially costly actions by us.
Furthermore, although we maintain a robust cyber security infrastructure and incident preparedness strategy, which we test periodically, we may be unable to respond, both internally and externally, to a cyber incident in a sufficiently expeditious manner. Any such failure could cause significant harm to our reputation and result in litigation, regulatory scrutiny and/or significant remediation costs.
Unpredictable events, including climate change, outbreak of infectious disease, natural disaster, dangerous weather conditions, technology failure, terrorist attack and political unrest, may adversely affect our ability to conduct business.
War, terrorist attack, political unrest, power failure, climate change, natural disaster and rapid spread of infectious disease (such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) could interrupt our operations by:
causing disruptions in global economic conditions, thereby decreasing investor confidence and making investment products generally less attractive;
inflicting loss of life;
triggering large-scale technology failures or delays;
breaching our information and cyber security infrastructure; and
requiring substantial capital expenditures and operating expenses to remediate damage and restore operations.
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Despite the contingency plans and facilities we have in place, including system security measures, information back-up and disaster recovery processes, our ability to conduct business, including in key business centers where we have significant operations, such as New York City, London, England, and Nashville, Tennessee, may be adversely affected by a disruption in the infrastructure that supports our operations and the communities in which they are located. This may include a disruption involving electrical, communications, transportation or other services we may use or third parties with which we conduct business. If a disruption occurs in one location and our employees in that location are unable to occupy our offices or communicate with or travel to other locations, our ability to conduct business with and on behalf of our clients may suffer, and we may not be able to successfully implement contingency plans that depend on communication or travel. Furthermore, unauthorized access to our systems as a result of a security breach, the failure of our systems, or the loss of data could give rise to legal proceedings or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information, disrupt operations, and damage our reputation.
Our operations require experienced, professional staff. Loss of a substantial number of such persons or an inability to provide properly equipped places for them to work may, by disrupting our operations, adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and business prospects. In addition, our property and business interruption insurance may not be adequate to compensate us for all losses, failures or breaches that may occur.
Our own operational failures or those of third parties on which we rely, including failures arising out of human error, could disrupt our business, damage our reputation and reduce our revenues.
Weaknesses or failures in our internal processes or systems could lead to disruption of our operations, liability to clients, exposure to disciplinary action or harm to our reputation. Our business is highly dependent on our ability to process, on a daily basis, large numbers of transactions, many of which are highly complex, across numerous and diverse markets. These transactions generally must comply with client investment guidelines, as well as stringent legal and regulatory standards.
Our obligations to clients require us to exercise skill, care and prudence in performing our services. Despite our employees being highly trained and skilled, the large number of transactions we process makes it highly likely that errors will occasionally occur. If we make a mistake in performing our services that causes financial harm to a client, we have a duty to act promptly to put the client in the position the client would have been in had we not made the error. The occurrence of mistakes, particularly significant ones, can have a material adverse effect on our reputation, results of operations and business prospects.
The individuals, third-party vendors or issuers on whom we rely to perform services for us or our clients may be unable or unwilling to honor their contractual obligations to us.
We rely on various counterparties and other third-party vendors to augment our existing investment, operational, financial and technological capabilities, but the use of a third-party vendor does not diminish AB's responsibility to ensure that client and regulatory obligations are met. Default rates, credit downgrades and disputes with counterparties as to the valuation of collateral increase significantly in times of market stress. Disruptions in the financial markets and other economic challenges may cause our counterparties and other third-party vendors to experience significant cash flow problems or even render them insolvent, which may expose us to significant costs and impair our ability to conduct business.
Weaknesses or failures within a third-party vendor's internal processes or systems, or inadequate business continuity plans, can materially disrupt our business operations. Also, third-party vendors may lack the necessary infrastructure or resources to effectively safeguard our confidential data. If we are unable to effectively manage the risks associated with such third-party relationships, we may suffer fines, disciplinary action and reputational damage.
We may not always successfully manage actual and potential conflicts of interest that arise in our business.
Increasingly, we must manage actual and potential conflicts of interest, including situations where our services to a particular client conflict, or are perceived to conflict, with the interests of another client. Failure to adequately address potential conflicts of interest could adversely affect our reputation, results of operations and business prospects.
We have procedures and controls that are designed to identify and mitigate conflicts of interest, including those designed to prevent the improper sharing of information. However, appropriately managing conflicts of interest is complex. Our reputation could be damaged and the willingness of clients to enter into transactions in which such a conflict might arise may be affected if we fail, or appear to fail, to deal appropriately with actual or perceived conflicts of interest. In addition, potential or perceived conflicts could give rise to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions.
Maintaining adequate liquidity for our general business needs depends on certain factors, including operating cash flows and our access to credit on reasonable terms.
Our financial condition is dependent on our cash flow from operations, which is subject to the performance of the capital markets, our ability to maintain and grow AUM and other factors beyond our control. Our ability to issue public or private debt on reasonable terms may be limited by adverse market conditions, our profitability, our creditworthiness as perceived by lenders and changes in government regulations, including tax rates and interest rates. Furthermore, our access to credit on reasonable terms is partially dependent on our firm’s credit ratings.
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Both Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. and Standard & Poor's Rating Service affirmed AB’s long-term and short-term credit ratings and indicated a stable outlook in 2021. Future changes in our credit ratings are possible and any downgrade to our ratings is likely to increase our borrowing costs and limit our access to the capital markets. If this occurs, we may be forced to incur unanticipated costs or revise our strategic plans, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and business prospects.
An impairment of goodwill may occur.
Determining whether an impairment of the goodwill asset exists requires management to exercise a substantial amount of judgment. In addition, to the extent that securities valuations are depressed for prolonged periods of time and/or market conditions deteriorate, or if we experience significant net redemptions, our AUM, revenues, profitability and unit price will be adversely affected. Although the price of an AB Holding Unit is just one factor in the calculation of fair value, if AB Holding Unit price levels decline significantly, reaching the conclusion that fair value exceeds carrying value will, over time, become more difficult. In addition, control premiums, industry earnings multiples and discount rates are impacted by economic conditions. As a result, subsequent impairment tests may occur more frequently and be based on more negative assumptions and future cash flow projections, and may result in an impairment of goodwill. An impairment may result in a material charge to our earnings. For additional information about our impairment testing, see Item 7.
The insurance that we maintain may not fully cover all potential exposures.
We maintain professional liability, fidelity, cyber, property, casualty, business interruption and other types of insurance, but such insurance may not cover all risks associated with the operation of our business. Our coverage is subject to exclusions and limitations, including high self-insured retentions or deductibles and maximum limits and liabilities covered. In addition, from time to time, various types of insurance may not be available on commercially acceptable terms or, in some cases, at all. We can make no assurance that a claim or claims will be covered by our insurance policies or, if covered, will not exceed our available insurance coverage, or that our insurers will remain solvent and meet their obligations.
In the future, we may not be able to obtain coverage at current levels, if at all, and our premiums may increase significantly on coverage that we maintain. Also, we currently are party to certain joint insurance arrangements with subsidiaries of EQH. If our affiliates choose not to include us as insured parties under any such policies, we may need to obtain stand-alone insurance coverage, which could have coverage terms that are less beneficial to us and/or cost more.
Legal and Regulatory-related Risks
Our business is subject to pervasive, complex and continuously evolving global regulation, compliance with which involves substantial expenditures of time and money, and violation of which may result in material adverse consequences.
Virtually all aspects of our business are subject to federal and state laws and regulations, rules of securities regulators and exchanges, and laws and regulations in the foreign jurisdictions in which our subsidiaries conduct business. If we violate these laws or regulations, we could be subject to civil liability, criminal liability or sanction, including restriction or revocation of our and our subsidiaries’ professional licenses or registrations, revocation of the licenses of our employees, censures, fines, or temporary suspension or permanent bar from conducting business. Any such liability or sanction could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and business prospects. A regulatory proceeding, even if it does not result in a finding of wrongdoing or sanction, could require substantial expenditures of time and money and could potentially damage our reputation.
In recent years, global regulators have substantially increased their oversight of financial services. Some of the newly-adopted and proposed regulations are focused on investment management services. Others, while more broadly focused, nonetheless impact our business. Moreover, the adoption of new laws, regulations or standards and changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws, regulations or standards have directly affected, and will continue to affect, our business, including making our efforts to comply more expensive and time-consuming.
For example, in 2015 the Financial Supervisory Commission in Taiwan (the “FSC”) implemented new limits on the degree to which local investors can own an offshore investment product. While certain exemptions have been available to us, should we not continue to qualify, the FSC’s rules could force some of our local resident investors to redeem their investments in our funds sold in Taiwan (and/or prevent further sales of those funds in Taiwan), some of which funds have local ownership levels substantially above the FSC limits. This could lead to significant declines in our investment advisory and services fees and revenues earned from these funds.
In Europe, MiFID II, which became effective in January 2018, makes significant modifications to the manner in which European broker-dealers can be compensated for research. These modifications have reduced, and are believed to have significantly reduced, the overall research spend by European buy-side firms, which has decreased the revenues we derive from our European clients. Our European clients may continue to reduce their research budgets, which could result in a significant decline in our sell-side revenues.
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Also, while MiFID II is not applicable to firms operating outside of Europe, competitive and client pressures increasingly may force buy-side firms operating outside of Europe to pay for research from their own resources instead of through bundled trading commissions. To the extent that occurs, we expect that research budgets from those clients will decrease further, which could result in an additional significant decline in our sell-side revenues. Additionally, these competitive and client pressures may result in our buy-side operation paying for research out of our own resources instead of through bundled trading commissions, which could increase our firm's expenses and decrease our operating income.
Additionally, in July 2017 the Chief Executive of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”), which regulates the London Interbank Offered Rate, or “LIBOR,” as a “benchmark” or “reference rate” for various interest rate calculations, announced that the FCA will no longer persuade or compel banks to submit rates for the calculation of the LIBOR benchmark after 2021. In November 2020, the ICE Benchmark Administration Limited announced a plan to extend the date as of which most U.S. LIBOR values would cease being computed from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2023. Although financial regulators and industry working groups have suggested alternative reference rates, global consensus on alternative rates is lacking and the process for amending existing contracts or instruments to transition away from LIBOR remains unclear. The elimination of LIBOR or changes to other reference rates or any other changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of reference rates may adversely affect the amount of interest payable or interest receivable on certain of our firm's portfolio investments. These changes may also impact the market liquidity and market value of these portfolio investments. We are finalizing our global assessment of exposure in relation to funds utilizing LIBOR based instruments and benchmarks. Further, we are prioritizing the mitigation of risks associated with the forecast changes to financial instruments and performance benchmarks referencing existing LIBOR rates, and concurrently any impact on AB portfolios and investment strategies.
Lastly, it also is uncertain how regulatory trends will further evolve, both in the U.S. and abroad. For example, following the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the U.K.'s departure from the European Union (the "EU") resulted in the U.K. leaving the EU Single Market on December 31, 2020. While the U.K. and the EU have agreed to a trade deal, which took effect on January 1, 2021, this deal does not include specific arrangements for financial services. Accordingly, since the start of 2021, our U.K.-based buy-side and sell-side subsidiaries have implemented alternative arrangements in EU jurisdictions (utilizing AB's EU-based subsidiaries) to ensure continued operations in the EU Single Market. These arrangements are subject to potential change due to ongoing negotiations between the U.K. and the EU on future regulatory cooperation, and it is difficult to ascertain how any such changes may impact the ability of our U.K.-based subsidiaries to provide services to EU-based clients in the future.
We are involved in various legal proceedings and regulatory matters and may be involved in such proceedings in the future, any one or combination of which could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, financial condition, results of operations and business prospects.
We may be involved in various matters, including regulatory inquiries, administrative proceedings and litigation, some of which allege significant damages, and we may be involved in additional matters in the future. Litigation is subject to significant uncertainties, particularly when plaintiffs allege substantial or indeterminate damages, the litigation is in its early stages, or when the litigation is highly complex or broad in scope.
Structure-related Risks
The partnership structure of AB Holding and AB limits Unitholders’ abilities to influence the management and operation of AB’s business and is highly likely to prevent a change in control of AB Holding and AB.
The General Partner, as general partner of both AB Holding and AB, generally has the exclusive right and full authority and responsibility to manage, conduct, control and operate their respective businesses, except as otherwise expressly stated in their respective Amended and Restated Agreements of Limited Partnership. AB Holding and AB Unitholders have more limited voting rights on matters affecting AB than do holders of common stock in a corporation. Both Amended and Restated Agreements of Limited Partnership provide that Unitholders do not have any right to vote for directors of the General Partner and that Unitholders only can vote on certain extraordinary matters (including removal of the General Partner under certain extraordinary circumstances). Additionally, the AB Partnership Agreement includes significant restrictions on the transfer of AB Units and provisions that have the practical effect of preventing the removal of the General Partner, which provisions are highly likely to prevent a change in control of AB’s management.
AB Units are illiquid and subject to significant transfer restrictions.
There is no public trading market for AB Units and we do not anticipate that a public trading market will develop. The AB Partnership Agreement restricts our ability to participate in a public trading market or anything substantially equivalent to one by providing that any transfer that may cause AB to be classified as a “publicly traded partnership” (“PTP”) as defined in Section 7704 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), shall be deemed void and shall not be recognized by AB. In addition, AB Units are subject to significant restrictions on transfer, such as obtaining the written consent of EQH and the General Partner pursuant to the AB Partnership Agreement. Generally, neither EQH nor the General Partner will permit any transfer that it believes would create a risk that AB would be treated as a corporation for tax purposes. EQH and the General Partner have implemented a transfer program that requires a seller to locate a purchaser and imposes annual volume restrictions on transfers. You may request a copy of the transfer program from our Corporate Secretary (corporate_secretary@alliancebernstein.com). Also, we have filed the transfer program as Exhibit 10.07 to this Form 10-K.
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Changes in the partnership structure of AB Holding and AB and/or changes in the tax law governing partnerships would have significant tax ramifications.
AB Holding, having elected under Section 7704(g) of the Code to be subject to a 3.5% federal tax on partnership gross income from the active conduct of a trade or business, is a PTP for federal income tax purposes. AB Holding is also subject to the 4.0% New York City unincorporated business tax (“UBT”), net of credits for UBT paid by AB. In order to preserve AB Holding’s status as a PTP for federal income tax purposes, management seeks to ensure that AB Holding does not directly or indirectly (through AB) enter into a substantial new line of business. A “new line of business” includes any business that is not closely related to AB’s historical business of providing research and diversified investment management and related services to its clients. A new line of business is “substantial” when a partnership derives more than 15% of its gross income from, or uses more than 15% of its total assets in, the new line of business.
AB is a private partnership for federal income tax purposes and, accordingly, is not subject to federal and state corporate income taxes. However, AB is subject to the 4.0% UBT. Domestic corporate subsidiaries of AB, which are subject to federal, state and local income taxes, generally are included in the filing of a consolidated federal income tax return with separate state and local income tax returns being filed. Each of AB's non-U.S. corporate subsidiaries generally is subject to taxes in the foreign jurisdiction where it is located. If our business increasingly operates in countries other than the U.S., AB’s effective tax rate will increase as our international subsidiaries are subject to corporate taxes in the jurisdictions where they are located.
In order to preserve AB’s status as a private partnership for federal income tax purposes, AB Units must not be considered publicly traded. If such units were to be considered readily tradable, AB would be subject to federal and state corporate income tax on its net income. Furthermore, as noted above, should AB enter into a substantial new line of business, AB Holding, by virtue of its ownership of AB, would lose its status as a PTP and would become subject to corporate income tax as set forth above. If AB and AB Holding were to become subject to corporate income tax as set forth above, their net income and quarterly distributions to Unitholders would be materially reduced. For information about the significant restrictions on transfer of AB Units, see the risk factor immediately above.
Additionally, past or future legislative proposals have been or may be introduced that, if enacted, could have a material adverse effect on us. We cannot predict the outcome of such legislative proposals.
If, pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 ("2015 Act"), any audit by the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") of our income tax returns for any of our taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 results in any adjustments, the IRS may collect any resulting taxes, including any applicable penalties and interest, directly from us, in which case our net income and the cash available for quarterly Unitholder distributions may be substantially reduced.
Although the IRS, under current law, generally determines tax adjustments at the partnership level when it audits the income tax return of a partnership, the IRS, with respect to taxable years beginning on or before December 31, 2017, is required to collect any additional taxes, interest and penalties from the partnership's individual partners. The 2015 Act modifies this procedure for audits of a partnership’s taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and, if a partnership meets certain requirements and makes a proper election, for audits of a partnership’s taxable years beginning before January 1, 2018. We may choose to make such an election if we receive a written notice of selection for examination for an eligible taxable year or if we file, on or after January 1, 2018, an administrative adjustment request for an eligible taxable year and otherwise qualify to make such an election.
Generally, we will have the ability to collect tax liability from our Unitholders in accordance with their percentage interests during the year under audit, but there can be no assurance that we will elect to do so or be able to do so under all circumstances. If we do not collect such tax liability from our Unitholders in accordance with their percentage interests in the tax year under audit, our net income and the available cash for quarterly distributions to current Unitholders may be substantially reduced. Accordingly, our current Unitholders may bear some or all of the tax liability resulting from such audit adjustment, even if such Unitholders did not own Units during the tax year under audit. In particular, as a publicly traded partnership, our Partnership Representative (as defined below) may, in certain instances, request that any “imputed underpayment” resulting from an audit be adjusted by amounts of certain of our passive losses. If we successfully make such a request, we would have to reduce suspended passive loss carryovers in a manner which is binding on the partners.
For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, a "partnership representative" that we designate (a “Partnership Representative”) will have the sole authority to act on our behalf for purposes of, among other things, U.S. federal income tax audits and judicial review of administrative adjustments by the IRS. If we do not make such a designation, the IRS can select any person as the Partnership Representative. Any actions taken by us or by the Partnership Representative on our behalf with respect to, among other things, U.S. federal income tax audits and judicial review of administrative adjustments by the IRS, will be binding on us and our Unitholders.
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In addition, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, we may, but are not required to, make an election to require our Unitholders to take into account on their income tax returns an audit adjustment made to our income tax items, also known as a “push-out” election. Also, a partnership that is a partner of another partnership may elect to have its unitholders take an audit adjustment of the lower-tier partnership into account (i.e., the upper-tier partnership may push adjustments received from the lower-tier partnership through to the partners of the upper-tier partnership). The upper-tier partnership must timely complete the “push-out” of the adjustment in order for it to be effective. Such election must be made by the extended due date for the return for the adjustment year of the audited partnership, regardless of whether the audited partnership is required to file a return for the adjustment year or timely files a request for an extension for its return. There are a number of requirements to make a “push-out” election and we may be unable or unwilling to comply with such requirements. If we do not make a “push-out” election, we would be required to pay any tax resulting from the adjustments to our income tax items, and the cash available for distribution to unitholders would be substantially reduced.
Non-U.S. unitholders may be subject to a 10% withholding tax on the sale of their AB Units or AB Holding Units, which could reduce the value of such Units.
Gain or loss from the sale or exchange of partnership units after November 27, 2017 by a non-U.S. unitholder are treated as effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business to the extent that the non-U.S. unitholder would have had effectively connected gain or loss on a hypothetical sale by the partnership of all of its assets at fair market value as of the date of the sale or exchange of the partnership units. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also imposed certain withholding requirements for the sale of partnership units by a non-U.S. unitholder and authorized the IRS to issue regulations to carry out the withholding rules in the case of publicly traded partnerships. On November 30, 2020, the IRS published final regulations (the "1446 Final Regulations") that address withholding tax and information reporting with respect to interests in publicly traded partnerships engaged in a U.S. trade or business. The 1446 Final Regulations end the suspension of withholding on the sale, exchange or disposition of certain interests in a publicly traded partnership, effective January 1, 2022, but place the primary responsibility for such withholding obligations for transfers effected through brokers on the broker, and not the publicly traded partnership. However, the requirement to withhold on amounts realized in connection with the sale, exchange or disposition of certain interests in a publicly traded partnership (including by brokers) is suspended under Notice 2021-51 for transfers that occur before January 1, 2023, and no withholding will apply until that date. Under the 1446 Final Regulations, a publicly traded partnership may be liable for any under-withholding by a broker that relies on a qualified notice for which the publicly traded partnership failed to make a reasonable estimate of the amounts required for determining the applicability of the "ten percent exception." The "ten percent exception" applies if, either (1) the publicly traded partnership was not engaged in a U.S. trade or business during a specified period of time, or (2) upon a hypothetical sale of the publicly traded partnership's assets at fair market value, (i) the amount of net gain that would have been effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States would be less than 10 percent of the total net gain, or (ii) no gain would have been effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.
We may be liable for any under-withholding by nominees on our Unitholder distributions after January 1, 2023.
Under the 1446 Final Regulations, for distributions made after January 1, 2022, a publicly traded partnership must post on its primary public website (and keep accessible for 10 years), and deliver to any registered holder that is a nominee, a qualified notice that states the amount of a distribution that is attributable to each type of income group specified in the 1446 Final Regulations. If the qualified notice is incorrect such that it causes a broker to under-withhold with respect to an amount in excess of cumulative net income, the publicly traded partnership is liable for any under-withholding on such amount. Notice 2021-51 suspends these requirements for distributions made before January 1, 2023.
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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Neither AB nor AB Holding has unresolved comments from the staff of the SEC to report.
Item 2. Properties
Our headquarters is located at 501 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tennessee. We occupy 218,976 square feet of space at this location under a 15-year lease agreement that commenced in the fourth quarter of 2020.
We lease space at our other principal location, 1345 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York. We occupy this space pursuant to a lease expiring in 2024. At this location, we currently lease 999,963 square feet of space, within which we currently occupy approximately 512,284 square feet of space and have sub-let (or are seeking to sub-let) approximately 487,679 square feet of space.
Also, we entered into a 20-year lease agreement in New York, New York, at 66 Hudson Boulevard, for 165,608 square feet that is expected to commence in 2024.
We also lease 50,792 square feet of space in San Antonio, Texas under a lease expiring in 2029. 
In addition, we lease more modest amounts of space in 23 other cities in the United States.
Our subsidiaries lease space in 30 cities outside the United States, the most significant of which are two leases in London, England, one lease expiring in 2022 and a second lease expiring in 2031, and in Hong Kong, China, under a lease expiring in 2027. In London, we currently lease 65,488 square feet of space, within which we currently occupy approximately 54,746 square feet of space and have sub-let approximately 10,742 square feet of space, which will expire in 2022. In 2021, we signed a 10-year lease for 52,814 square feet for an additional London location that we expect to occupy by the fourth quarter of 2022. In Hong Kong, we currently lease and occupy 35,878 square feet of space.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
With respect to all significant litigation matters, we consider the likelihood of a negative outcome. If we determine the likelihood of a negative outcome is probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated, we record an estimated loss for the expected outcome of the litigation. If the likelihood of a negative outcome is reasonably possible and we are able to determine an estimate of the possible loss or range of loss in excess of amounts already accrued, if any, we disclose that fact together with the estimate of the possible loss or range of loss. However, it is often difficult to predict the outcome or estimate a possible loss or range of loss because litigation is subject to inherent uncertainties, particularly when plaintiffs allege substantial or indeterminate damages. Such is also the case when the litigation is in its early stages or when the litigation is highly complex or broad in scope. In these cases, we disclose that we are unable to predict the outcome or estimate a possible loss or range of loss.
AB may be involved in various matters, including regulatory inquiries, administrative proceedings and litigation, some of which may allege significant damages. It is reasonably possible that we could incur losses pertaining to these matters, but we cannot currently estimate any such losses.
Management, after consultation with legal counsel, currently believes that the outcome of any individual matter that is pending or threatened, or all of them combined, will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity. However, any inquiry, proceeding or litigation has an element of uncertainty; management cannot determine whether further developments relating to any individual matter that is pending or threatened, or all of them combined, will have a material adverse effect on our results of operation, financial condition or liquidity in any future reporting period.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.
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Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market for AB Holding Units and AB Units; Cash Distributions
AB Holding Units are listed on the NYSE and trade publicly under the ticker symbol “AB". There is no established public trading market for AB Units, which are subject to significant restrictions on transfer. For information about these transfer restrictions, see “Structure-related Risks” in Item 1A.
AB Holding’s principal source of income and cash flow is attributable to its limited partnership interests in AB.
Each of AB Holding and AB distributes on a quarterly basis all of its Available Cash Flow, as defined in the AB Holding Partnership Agreement and the AB Partnership Agreement, respectively, to its Unitholders and the General Partner. For additional information concerning distribution of Available Cash Flow by AB Holding, see Note 2 to AB Holding’s financial statements in Item 8. For additional information concerning distribution of Available Cash Flow by AB, see Note 2 to AB’s consolidated financial statements in Item 8.
On December 31, 2021, the closing price of an AB Holding Unit on the NYSE was $48.84 per Unit. On December 31, 2021, there were (i) 928 AB Holding Unitholders of record for approximately 82,000 beneficial owners, and (ii) 317 AB Unitholders of record (we do not believe there are substantial additional beneficial owners).
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities; Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities
We did not engage in any unregistered sales of our securities during the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Each quarter, AB considers whether to implement a plan to repurchase AB Holding Units pursuant to Rules 10b5-1 and 10b-18 under the Exchange Act. We did not, however, adopt a plan during the fourth quarter of 2021. AB may adopt additional plans in the future to engage in open-market purchases of AB Holding Units to help fund anticipated obligations under the firm’s incentive compensation award program and for other corporate purposes. For additional information about Rule 10b5-1 plans, see “Units Outstanding” in Item 7.
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AB Holding Units bought by us or one of our affiliates during the fourth quarter of 2021 are as follows:
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
PeriodTotal
Number of
AB Holding
Units
Purchased
Average
Price Paid
Per AB
Holding Unit,
net of
Commissions
Total
Number of
AB Holding
Units
Purchased as
Part of
Publicly
Announced
Plans or
Programs
Maximum
Number (or
Approximate
Dollar Value)
of AB
Holding
Units that
May Yet Be
Purchased
Under the
Plans or
Programs
10/1/21-10/31/21(1)(2)
281,579$50.46 — 
11/1/21-11/30/21— — — 
12/1/21-12/31/21(1)
2,449,65749.95— 
Total2,731,236$50.00  
(1)During the fourth quarter of 2021, we purchased 2,449,716 AB Holding Units from employees to allow them to fulfill statutory withholding tax requirements at the time of distribution of long-term incentive compensation awards.
(2)During the fourth quarter of 2021, we purchased 281,520 AB Holding Units on the open market pursuant to a Rule 10b5-1 plan to help fund anticipated obligations under our incentive compensation award program.
Neither we nor our affiliates bought any AB Units during the fourth quarter of 2021.
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Item 6. [Reserved]

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Impact of COVID-19
General Economic Conditions
COVID-19 has significantly impacted the global economy since the first quarter of 2020, and its impact may persist for months to come. While most businesses have re-opened, vaccinations are progressing in most portions of the world and leading economic indicators, other than heightened inflation, have improved significantly, the overall extent and duration of COVID-19's impact on businesses and economic activity generally remains unclear.
Various countries around the world, and most areas in the U.S., have continued to experience surges in the rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, which have resulted from the emergence and spread of virus variants (particularly the "delta variant" during the second half of 2021 and the "omicron variant" more recently), greatly increased social interactions, including at colleges and universities and social venues, after re-opening of economies, and decreased usage of mitigation techniques, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, in combination with large portions of the population remaining unvaccinated. These ongoing circumstances surrounding the virus may adversely affect consumer sentiment and the durability of business re-openings, and they also may slow economic recovery and possibly cause market volatility and even a new downturn.
AB Impact
At the onset of COVID-19 during the first quarter of 2020, we quickly responded in the various jurisdictions where we operate, including the U.S., the U.K., Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Taiwan. We implemented business continuity measures, including travel restrictions and a work-from-home requirement for almost all personnel (other than a relatively small number of employees whose physical presence in our offices was considered critical), which generally remained in place throughout 2020 and 2021 to ensure operating continuity for all critical functions. We also instituted a notification process for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone else who has tested positive. As the COVID-19 crisis has continued to evolve since the lockdown in the first quarter of 2020, certain key functions of the business, such as Risk Management, Business Continuity, Finance and Human Capital, have maintained constant communication and monitored the evolution of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and advise of key developments. Additionally, we continue to monitor communications from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in the third quarter of 2021 engaged an epidemiologist on a consulting basis, to ensure we have current and accurate information.
Furthermore, we have continued to enhance our virtual programs to support business functions, such as training on cybersecurity and enhancements to our existing technology platforms, which has increased the effectiveness of our remote work force. There has been a heightened focus on the emotional well-being of our employees, and we have provided regular touch points with employees through virtual town halls and management communications. Additionally, we have maintained regular communications and updates on the virus and the Company's response, which are posted on the Company's internal website, to ensure transparent communication with our employees.
The economic impact of COVID-19 and any additional declines in the financial markets could have a significant adverse effect on our AUM and revenues, particularly if economic activity does not continue to recover and inflation continues unabated. Further, we have benefited from certain of our adjusted operating expenses declining significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for travel and entertainment and client meetings, particularly during 2020. Although these costs increased in 2021, they have not yet returned to a normalized level. These cost savings have benefited our margins. If financial markets continue to normalize and economic activity increases, we do not anticipate continued cost savings related to COVID-19, and these savings are not indicative of our future performance. Although countries throughout the world continue to grapple with re-opening their economies, there is a significant risk that the opening process may be interrupted or reversed if infection and hospitalization rates increase. Also, any reluctance of consumers to resume spending could do long-term damage to the global economy, which would have an adverse effect on our business. Additionally, as most of our workforce continues working remotely, at least part of the time, we are mindful of increased risk related to cybersecurity, which could significantly disrupt our business functions.
Ultimately, the return to normal business and economic activity will likely require the broad application of effective vaccines. The distribution of multiple safe, effective vaccines was initiated towards the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, and the distribution of such vaccines generally increased globally throughout 2021. However, the rate of new vaccinations in the U.S. plateaued, and in some areas began to decline, by the end of the second quarter of 2021, and the rate at which vaccination "boosters" have been administered has lagged. If global vaccination rates do not improve further, a significant risk will remain that COVID-19 and/or a variant thereof, could accelerate global health concerns and, in so doing, cause heightened market and economic turmoil in the future.
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Executive Overview(1)
Our total assets under management ("AUM") as of December 31, 2021 were $778.6 billion, up $92.7 billion, or 13.5%, during 2021. The increase was driven primarily by market appreciation of $66.6 billion and net inflows of $26.1 billion (reflecting Retail net inflows of $20.8 billion, Private Wealth Management net inflows of $3.0 billion and Institutional net inflows of $2.3 billion). As previously disclosed, we expect additional redemptions by AXA of low-fee retail AUM in the first half of 2022 of approximately $5 billion.
Institutional AUM increased $21.5 billion, or 6.8%, to $337.1 billion during 2021, primarily due to market appreciation of $19.4 billion and net inflows of $2.3 billion, primarily driven by growth in active equities. Gross sales increased $0.8 billion, from $30.9 billion in 2020 to $31.7 billion in 2021. Redemptions and terminations increased $0.1 billion, from $23.3 billion in 2020 to $23.4 billion in 2021. Institutional sales and redemptions in 2021 include $8.7 billion in sales and $10.0 billion in redemptions associated with the reinsurance agreement entered into by Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company ("Equitable Financial") and a subsidiary of Venerable Holdings, Inc., pursuant to which Equitable Financial ceded to Venerable a portion of its legacy variable annuity business; AB remained the preferred investment manager for the General Account assets transferred
Retail AUM increased $54.6 billion, or 20.6%, to $319.9 billion during 2021, primarily due to market appreciation of $33.6 billion and net inflows of $20.8 billion, primarily driven by growth in active equities. Gross sales increased $21.1 billion, from $78.9 billion in 2020 to $100.0 billion in 2021. Redemptions and terminations decreased $4.4 billion, from $69.5 billion in 2020 to $65.1 billion in 2021.
Private Wealth Management AUM increased $16.6 billion, or 15.8%, to $121.6 billion during 2021, due to market appreciation of $13.6 billion and net inflows of $3.0 billion, primarily driven by growth in alternatives and multi-asset solutions. Gross sales increased $4.0 billion, from $14.3 billion in 2020 to $18.3 billion in 2021. Redemptions and terminations decreased $1.2 billion, from $16.5 billion in 2020 to $15.3 billion in 2021.
Bernstein Research Services ("Bernstein") revenue decreased $7.7 million, or 1.7%, in 2021. The decrease was due to lower trading activity driven by lower global market volatility as compared to the COVID-related volatility in 2020. This was partially offset by higher research payments across Bernstein and Autonomous Research ("Autonomous") products.
Our 2021 net revenues of $4.4 billion increased $733.1 million, or 19.8%, compared to net revenues of $3.7 billion in the prior year. The increase was primarily driven by higher base advisory fees of $486.6 million, higher distribution revenues of $122.5 million and higher performance-based fees of $112.5 million. Our operating expenses of $3.2 billion increased $424.0 million, or 15.1%, compared to operating expenses of $2.8 billion in the prior year. The increase was primarily due to higher employee compensation and benefits expenses of $221.8 million, higher promotion and servicing expenses of $153.5 million and higher general and administrative expenses of $64.5 million. Our operating income increased $309.0 million, or 34.1%, to $1.2 billion from $907.4 million in 2020 and our operating margin increased to 27.3% in 2021 from 24.6% in 2020.
Market Environment
Despite a selloff in November resulting from fears surrounding inflation and the rising cases of the omicron variant, U.S. equity markets finished higher in 2021. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq each rallied to finish the year with solid gains. With rising inflation remaining a key concern, the Federal Reserve signaled it would begin tapering its quantitative easing at a faster pace and will begin raising their target interest rate in the first half of 2022. Meanwhile, U.S. government negotiations surrounding the Build Back Better package and the Infrastructure and Investments Jobs Act continued, with concerns the fiscal stimulus could drive inflation even higher in 2022.
In the U.K., equities lagged the global gains in 2021 but rose in fourth quarter. Brexit, however, has placed constraints on labor supply and, in turn, upward pressure on wages and inflation. In response, the Bank of England raised interest rates, despite the spread of the omicron variant. In China, equities significantly underperformed global equities. The People’s Bank of China reduced the reserve requirement ratio, releasing inexpensive funds for banks to lend, and announced that this cut is not the beginning of an easing cycle, but rather a regular monetary policy action. The risks in China, however, around the property market will likely remain a key watchpoint over the coming months.

1 Percentage change figures are calculated using assets under management rounded to the nearest million, while financial statement amounts are rounded to the nearest thousand.
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MiFID II
In Europe, MiFID II, which became effective on January 3, 2018, has made significant modifications to the manner in which European broker-dealers can be compensated for research. These modifications are believed to have significantly reduced the overall research spend by European buy-side firms, which has decreased the revenues we derive from our European clients. Our European clients may continue to reduce their research budgets, which could result in a significant decline in our sell-side revenues.
Also, while MiFID II is not applicable to firms operating outside of Europe, competitive and client pressures may force buy-side firms operating outside of Europe to pay for research from their own resources instead of through bundled trading commissions. If that occurs, we would expect that research budgets from those clients will decrease further, which could result in an additional significant decline in our sell-side revenues. Additionally, these competitive and client pressures may result in our buy-side operation paying for research out of our own resources instead of through bundled trading commissions, which could increase our firm's expenses and decrease our operating income.
The ultimate impact of MiFID II on payments for research globally remains uncertain.
Relationship with EQH and its Subsidiaries
EQH (our parent company) and its subsidiaries are our largest client. EQH is collaborating with AB in order to improve the risk-adjusted yield for the General Accounts of EQH's insurance subsidiaries by investing additional assets at AB, including the utilization of AB's higher-fee, longer-duration alternative offerings. Equitable Financial has agreed to provide $10 billion in permanent capital2 over the next three years to build out AB’s private illiquid offerings, including private alternatives and private placements. We expect this anticipated capital from Equitable Financial will accelerate both organic and inorganic growth in our private alternatives business, allowing us to continue to deliver for our clients, employees, unitholders and other stakeholders.
Relocation Strategy
As previously announced, we have established our corporate headquarters in Nashville, TN, at 501 Commerce Street. Our Nashville headquarters houses Finance, IT, Operations, Legal, Compliance, Internal Audit, Human Capital, and Sales and Marketing, and at year-end we had 974 employees in Nashville. We expect to reach a total of 1,250 employees in Nashville by the end of 2024. We have been actively relocating jobs and expect this transition to take several more years. We will continue to maintain a principal location in New York City, which houses our Portfolio Management, Sell-Side Research and Trading, and New York-based Private Wealth Management businesses.
We believe relocating our corporate headquarters to Nashville affords us the opportunity to provide an improved quality of life alternative for our employees and enables us to attract and recruit new talented employees to a highly desirable location while improving the long-term cost structure of the firm.
During the transition period, which began in 2018 and is expected to continue through 2024, we currently estimate that we will incur transition costs of between $145 million to $155 million. These costs include employee relocation, severance, recruitment, and overlapping compensation and occupancy costs. Over this same period, we expect to realize total expense savings of between $205 million to $215 million. However, we did incur some transition costs before we began to realize expense savings. For the period beginning in 2018 and ending in the fourth quarter of 2021, we incurred $97 million of cumulative transition costs compared to $89 million of cumulative savings. In addition, we incurred $27 million of transition costs for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, compared to $43 million of expense savings, resulting in an overall net savings of $16 million for the period. In 2021, our net income per unit ("EPU") increased $0.06 as a result of our relocation strategy, which compares to the $0.04 EPU increase that occurred in 2020. We also expect to achieve EPU accretion in each year thereafter. Beginning in 2025, once the transition period has been completed, we estimate ongoing annual expense savings of approximately $75 million to $80 million, which will result from a combination of occupancy and compensation-related savings. Our estimates for both the transition costs and the corresponding expense savings are based on our current assumptions of employee relocation costs, severance, and overlapping compensation and occupancy costs. In addition, our estimates for both the timing of when we incur transition costs and realize the related expense savings are based on our current relocation implementation plan and the timing for execution of each phase. The actual total charges we eventually record, the related expense savings we realize, and the timing of EPU impact may differ from our current estimates as we implement each phase of our headquarters relocation.
2 Permanent capital means investment capital of indefinite duration, which may be withdrawn under certain conditions. Although Equitable Financial has indicated its intention over time to provide this investment capital to AB, which is mutually beneficial to both firms, it has no binding commitment to do so.
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During October 2018, we signed a lease, which commenced in the fourth quarter of 2020, relating to 218,976 square feet of space at our new Nashville headquarters. Our estimated total base rent obligation (excluding taxes, operating expenses and utilities) over the 15-year initial lease term is $134 million.
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Although we have presented many of our transition costs and annual expense savings with numerical specificity, and we believe these targets to be reasonable as of the date of this report, the uncertainties surrounding the assumptions we discuss above create a significant risk that these targets may not be achieved.  Accordingly, the expenses we actually incur and the savings we actually realize may differ from our targets, particularly if actual events adversely differ from one or more of our key assumptions.  The transition costs and expense savings, together with their underlying assumptions, are Forward-Looking Statements and can be affected by any of the factors discussed in “Risk Factors” and “Cautions Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” in this 2021 10-K. We strongly caution investors not to place undue reliance on any of these assumptions or our cost and expense targets.  Except as may be required by applicable securities laws, we are not under any obligation, and we expressly disclaim any obligation, to update or alter any assumptions, estimates, financial goals, targets, projections or other related statements that we may make.
AB Holding
AB Holding’s principal source of income and cash flow is attributable to its investment in AB Units. The AB Holding financial statements, notes to the financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations (“MD&A”) should be read in conjunction with those of AB.
Results of Operations
Years Ended December 31% Change
2021202020192021-202020-19
(in thousands, except per unit amounts)
Net income attributable to AB Unitholders$1,148,623 $865,952 $752,042 32.6 %15.1 %
Weighted average equity ownership interest36.2 %35.6 %35.4 %
Equity in net income attributable to AB Unitholders$416,326 $308,404 $266,292 35.0 15.8 
Income taxes30,483 29,024 27,729 5.0 4.7 
Net income of AB Holding$385,843 $279,380 $238,563 38.1 17.1 
Diluted net income per AB Holding Unit$3.88 $2.88 $2.49 34.7 15.7 
Distributions per AB Holding Unit (1)
$3.90 $2.91 $2.53 34.0 15.0 
(1)Distributions reflect the impact of AB’s non-GAAP adjustments.
AB Holding had net income of $385.8 million in 2021 compared to $279.4 million in 2020, reflecting higher net income attributable to AB Unitholders and higher weighted average equity ownership interest. AB Holding had net income of $279.4 million in 2020 compared to $238.6 million in 2019, reflecting higher net income attributable to AB Unitholders.
AB Holding's partnership gross income is derived from its interest in AB. AB Holding’s income taxes, which reflect a 3.5% federal tax on its partnership gross income from the active conduct of a trade or business, are computed by multiplying certain AB qualifying revenues (primarily U.S. investment advisory fees, brokerage commissions and direct payments for research services) by AB Holding’s ownership interest in AB, multiplied by the 3.5% tax rate. AB Holding’s effective tax rate was 7.3% in 2021, 9.4% in 2020 and 10.4% in 2019. See Note 6 to AB Holding’s financial statements in Item 8 for a further description.
As supplemental information, AB provides the performance measures “adjusted net revenues,” “adjusted operating income” and “adjusted operating margin,” which are the principal metrics management uses in evaluating and comparing the period-to-period operating performance of AB. Management principally uses these metrics in evaluating performance because they present a clearer picture of AB's operating performance and allow management to see long-term trends without the distortion primarily caused by long-term incentive compensation-related mark-to-market adjustments, real estate charges (discussed below in Adjusted Operating Income) and other adjustment items. Similarly, management believes that these management operating metrics help investors better understand the underlying trends in AB's results and, accordingly, provide a valuable perspective for investors. Such measures are not based on generally accepted accounting principles (“non-GAAP measures”). These non-GAAP measures are provided in addition to, and not as substitutes for, net revenues, operating income and operating margin, and they may not be comparable to non-GAAP measures presented by other companies. Management uses both GAAP and non-GAAP measures in evaluating the company’s financial performance. The non-GAAP measures alone may pose limitations because they do not include all of AB’s revenues and expenses. Further, adjusted diluted net income per AB Holding Unit is not a liquidity measure and should not be used in place of cash flow measures. See “Management Operating Metrics” in this Item 7.
2021 Annual Report
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The impact of these adjustments on AB Holding’s net income and diluted net income per AB Holding Unit are as follows:
Years Ended December 31
202120202019
(in thousands, except per unit amounts)
AB non-GAAP adjustments, before taxes$2,959 $6,393 $8,648 
AB Income tax benefit (expense) on non-GAAP adjustments71 (523)1,070 
AB non-GAAP adjustments, after taxes3,030 5,870 9,718 
AB Holding’s weighted average equity ownership interest in AB36.2 %35.6 %35.4 %
Impact on AB Holding’s net income of AB non-GAAP adjustments$1,098 $2,090 $3,441 
Net income - diluted, GAAP basis$385,873 $279,436 $238,642 
Impact on AB Holding’s net income of AB non-GAAP adjustments1,098 2,090 3,441 
Adjusted net income - diluted$386,971 $281,526 $242,083 
Diluted net income per AB Holding Unit, GAAP basis$3.88 $2.88 $2.49 
Impact of AB non-GAAP adjustments0.01 0.03 0.03 
Adjusted diluted net income per AB Holding Unit$3.89 $2.91 $2.52 
The degree to which AB’s non-GAAP adjustments impact AB Holding’s net income fluctuates based on AB Holding's ownership percentage in AB.
Tax Legislation
For a discussion of tax legislation, see “Risk Factors - Structure-related Risks” in Item 1A.
Capital Resources and Liquidity
During the year ended December 31, 2021, net cash provided by operating activities was $355.1 million, compared to $270.0 million during the corresponding 2020 period. The increase primarily resulted from higher cash distributions received from AB of $86.3 million. During the year ended December 31, 2020, net cash provided by operating activities was $270.0 million, compared to $222.8 million during the corresponding 2019 period. The increase primarily resulted from higher cash distributions received from AB of $49.5 million.
During the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, net cash used in investing activities was $3.4 million, $0.1 million and $11.5 million, respectively, reflecting investments in AB with proceeds from exercises of compensatory options to buy AB Holding Units.
During the year ended December 31, 2021, net cash used in financing activities was $351.7 million, compared to $269.9 million during the corresponding 2020 period. The increase primarily was due to higher cash distributions to Unitholders of $86.6 million, offset by higher proceeds from exercise of compensatory options to buy AB Holding Units of $3.3 million. During the year ended December 31, 2020, net cash used in financing activities was $269.9 million, compared to $211.2 million during the corresponding 2019 period. The increase was primarily due to higher cash distributions to Unitholders of $48.4 million, partially offset by lower proceeds from exercise of compensatory options to buy AB Holding Units of $11.4 million.
Management believes that AB Holding will have the resources it needs to meet its financial obligations as a result of the cash flow AB Holding realizes from its investment in AB.
Cash Distributions
AB Holding is required to distribute all of its Available Cash Flow, as defined in the AB Holding Partnership Agreement, to its Unitholders (including the General Partner). Available Cash Flow typically is the adjusted diluted net income per unit for the quarter multiplied by the number of units outstanding at the end of the quarter. Management anticipates that Available Cash Flow will continue to be based on adjusted diluted net income per unit, unless management determines, with concurrence of the Board of Directors, that one or more adjustments made to adjusted net income should not be made with respect to the Available Cash Flow calculation. See Note 2 to AB Holding’s financial statements in Item 8 for a description of Available Cash Flow.
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AllianceBernstein

Commitments and Contingencies
For a discussion of commitments and contingencies, see Note 7 to AB Holding’s financial statements in Item 8.
AB
Assets Under Management
Assets under management by distribution channel are as follows: 
 As of December 31% Change  
 2021202020192021-202020-19
 (in billions)      
Institutions$337.1 $315.6 $282.7 6.8 %11.6 %
Retail319.9 265.3 239.2 20.6 10.9 
Private Wealth Management121.6 105.0 101.0 15.8 3.9 
Total$778.6 $685.9 $622.9 13.5 10.1 
Assets under management by investment service are as follows:
 As of December 31% Change
 2021202020192021-20