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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Rebuilding BlackRock Beyond Its Walls

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting crisis, the BlackRock [profile] team has "rebuilt BlackRock beyond the walls of BlackRock," writes Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of the New York City-based asset manager in his annual chairman's letter to shareholders.

Laurence D. Fink
BlackRock
Chairman, CEO
The Financial Times, P&I, and Reuters all picked up on Fink's letter, which was released on Sunday.

Fink's letter, heavily colored by the COVID-19 situation, hints at what's next for the publicly traded titan. He continues to see "massive consolidation" in asset management (though he makes no hints about BlackRock itself acquiring again), stresses the "tremendous growth" of ETFs (especially fixed income ones), doubles down on the importance of illiquid alternative investing and technology (like BlackRock's Aladdin risk management platform), and trumpets the recent performance of ESG strategies ("we've seen sustainable portfolios deliver strong performance than traditional portfolios during this period [i.e. the pandemic]"). He also talks up the 32-year-old firm's culture.

As for the current crisis, Fink notes that it is unlike anything he's experienced in his 44 years in the business. 2019, he says, "seems a distant reality."

"On many days in recent weeks, we have had over 90% of our people around the world working from home — managing portfolios, serving clients and building technology," Fink writes. "BlackRock's offices globally are nearly empty and instead, I write to you in isolation from home like millions of other people."

Yet Fink does remain optimistic about the economy recovering eventually.

"Long-term thinking has never been more critical than it is today," Fink writes. 

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