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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

WSJ Versus Fink

News summary by MFWire's editors

The Wall Street Journal is taking on Larry Fink over the BlackRock [profile] chief's ESG push.

Laurence D. Fink
Chairman, CEO
Last Thursday evening, the WSJ editorial board posted an opinion piece expressing worry about regulators using Fink's ESG pushes as an excuse for regulators like the SEC to go after big passive investors (like BlackRock). (The piece appeared in Friday morning's issue.) The piece cites the American Securities Association (ASA), which wants big asset managers (and not just proxy advisory firms) to be scrutinized further over how they vote shares and worries about asset manager "groupthink." Plus, the ASA worries, what if ESG standards end up downing the companies asset managers are invested in?

On the flip side, BlackRock and fellow passive giants continue to face flak for not going far enough with their ESG pushes, perhaps talking more about ESG than their proxy voting records suggest. A year ago there was even a hoax Fink public letter with a more aggressive ESG stance.

Last month, As You Sow's new report asked "Are Fund Managers Asleep at The Wheel?" The report highlights big discrepancies between asset managers over how much they vote for and against management. The big passive managers do follow a pattern in that report: more so than all the other asset managers cited, the big passive firms like BlackRock rarely vote against management. So much for the excessively ESG perspective that the WSJ worries about? 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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