BlackRock is wrestling with succession planning. Here’s the latest news on the biggest money manager.

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  • BlackRock is the largest asset management firm, overseeing $9.1 trillion as of September.
  • Founder-led BlackRock is molding the next generation of management and seeking out deals.
  • Here is the latest reporting from Business Insider on BlackRock’s executives, funds, and more.

BlackRock oversees $9.1 trillion in assets as the world’s largest money manager, and it’s amassed enormous power through its many funds and high-profile chief executive and co-founder, Larry Fink. It’s gone from a company mainly known only on Wall Street to one the general public now knows best for two things: its sheer size and ESG investing.

BlackRock’s dominance as a passive investment behemoth and a vocal champion of environmental, social, and governance investing has drawn far more mainstream attention than ever in recent years.

That’s led to viral conspiracy theories over what BlackRock owns and how it influences decision-making at other companies, presidential candidates raising the issue during debates, attacks on Fink personally, and criticisms by lawmakers primarily on the right who have seized on ESG as a boogeyman. The firm has defended itself, responding to critics that it works as a fiduciary and acts in clients’ best interest, not as a force for political activism. It has delayed launching an ESG fund for more than a year against that backdrop, Business Insider first reported last August.

BlackRock manages assets for clients across wealth management, pension plans, insurance companies, governments, and other types of clients. Its reach is wide for sophisticated and everyday investors: 35 million people invest in BlackRock’s 1,300 exchange-traded funds. It sells a powerful portfolio-management software called Aladdin, used by virtually all of Wall Street, and it manages some $320 billion of so-called alternative assets like private credit.

At the same time, BlackRock is shaping the next generation of leadership.

Rob Kapito, the president and another cofounder, and Fink lead the New York-based firm. BlackRock has made personnel changes and appointments in the past year that point to who may be positioned to take over once Fink and Kapito leave.

For a window into BlackRock’s workforce, powerful executives, dealmaking, and more, here is Business Insider’s latest reporting on BlackRock.

Founder-led BlackRock is shaping the next generation of top management. 

“I’m not planning to leave BlackRock anytime soon,” Fink said at the firm’s investor day in June 2023, “but BlackRock’s board and I have no higher priority than developing the next-generational leaders for BlackRock.”

Business Insider reported that a group of top executives, including Mark Wiedman, Martin Small, and Rob Goldstein are viewed as contenders to replace Fink. An exclusive org chart that Insider published shows where these executives and other influential employees sit within the firm.

BlackRock is prioritizing the private markets.

Managers typically charge far higher fees to oversee private-markets assets for clients than the traditional stock and bond funds that BlackRock is best known for, and clients’ appetite for those assets is growing.

This year the firm set a goal to double the revenue that its private markets business generates, and it’s on the hunt for deals to make that happen.

BlackRock announced last year that it is acquiring a London-based private credit manager. Business Insider previously reported that a prior private credit-focused acquisition BlackRock made in 2018 led to asset growth but departures of some senior employees who were frustrated by the deal’s integration.

Last month BlackRock reorganized the executives overseeing private assets — which is no longer structured as a standalone unit — to boost growth. Fink indicated last April that the banking sector turmoil this spring and the market volatility that ensued had presented opportunities for deals, and analysts have pointed to alternatives as one area where BlackRock could seek out M&A.

BlackRock — and Fink personally — have become political targets over ESG investing.

BlackRock and Fink himself have faced intense scrutiny over the firm’s climate-aware investment strategies. Conservative politicians view BlackRock as promoting liberal ideals in the companies BlackRock’s funds own, while progressive politicians say BlackRock isn’t doing enough to fight the climate crisis.

BlackRock often responds by reminding each side — and investors at large — that it is a fiduciary and works in the best interest of its clients. Late last year, a small activist hedge fund with a tiny stake in BlackRock even called on the company to replace Fink over the firm’s approach to ESG investing.

Business Insider reported last March that Fink backed off of sustainability talk in his annual letter after a year of political attacks. And during the firm’s investor day last June, there was no mention of the term “ESG,” according to a 33,000-word transcript of the event from the research provider Sentieo.

Executives used different language to discuss sustainable investing, describing “transition capital,” or opportunities for investments toward a low-carbon economy, at length.

Fink says BlackRock is spending a lot of time studying artificial intelligence tech, and the firm continues to push into crypto. 

BlackRock is spending “a huge amount of time” on AI, and how it will “reshape” the firm, Fink said last year. BlackRock has experimented with AI for several years: five years ago it formed a team now called AI Labs that works on the technology.

Fink and Kapito said in a memo this week about laying off 3% of employees that the firm was looking to “new technologies” to “find new sources of alpha, enhance service to our clients, create additional growth engines for Aladdin, and achieve significant efficiencies in how we operate.”

BlackRock is also pushing to launch a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the US, even as the crypto sector faces a regulatory crackdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission said this week that it was delaying its decisions on those applications for spot bitcoin ETFs, including for BlackRock.

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Edmund Shing, PhD

Global Chief Investment Officer
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Edmund has over 29 years of experience in financial markets in a wide variety of positions, ranging from proprietary trading to portfolio manager in a number of financial institutions in London and Paris.  He previously held the role of Global Head of Equity and Derivative Strategy at BNP Paribas in London from 2015 to 2020, and has been Chief Investment Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management since November 2020.

Edmund is responsible for piloting our investment strategy and will continues to rollout out recommendations and themes with actionable advice that brings our expertise to our clients and support to our client-facing teams.  In this time of change, his expertise in following and anticipating markets is a true value added for both our customers and those at Wealth Management who serve them.

Edmund has a PhD in Cognitive and Computing Science from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and has done advanced studies in Knowledge-Based Systems and in Experimental Psychology.  He is an EFFAS-certified financial analyst. He has also authored the book “The Idle Investor” published by Harriman House in 2015, proposing 3 simple investment strategies that take only a few minutes to execute per month.

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