By Annie Massa
BlackRock Inc. is launching a massive overhaul of its leadership to help navigate mounting challenges across the asset-management industry, from global expansion to pressure on fees.
The world’s largest asset manager, led by Chief Executive Larry Fink, is installing new leaders at its alternatives investment division, reorganizing staff and shifting more responsibility for clients to regional leaders, according to a memo to staff Tuesday.
The leadership changes reflect some of BlackRock’s main challenges, including institutional outflows amid volatile markets. The company is working to expand its business outside the U.S., which it has also done through deal-making in recent years. The firm is also trying to expand outside of indexed products by bolstering its technology and its alternatives businesses.
The changes come amid speculation about who will succeed Fink, 66, as the firm’s CEO. A handful of executives are considered to be in the running, including two whose roles are shifting, according to the memo. In recent years these proteges have been shuffled in a variety of senior positions and Fink has said he prefers not to let one clear successor emerge.
Two men thought to be contenders received new responsibilities. Mark McCombe will take on the newly created role of chief client officer. Mark Wiedman — who earlier this year also got a new job as head of international and corporate strategy — will take on Latin America.
The firm said it is establishing Latin America as a region organizationally in parallel with Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or EMEA.
Asset managers are under pressure as volatility roils markets and investors pile into low-fee funds. The industry is deploying technology across its businesses to reduce costs and expanding its offerings in alternatives such as private equity and real estate, which usually charge higher fees.
BlackRock said in January that it was cutting 3 percent of its global workforce, the largest reduction in its headcount since 2016. Shares of the firm were little changed at 10:18 a.m. in New York trading and are down about 13 percent with dividends reinvested in the past year.
Edwin Conway, who previously led BlackRock’s interactions with institutional clients, will become global head of the alternatives business, according to the memo. Jim Barry, the firm’s head of real assets within the unit, will become investment chief for the group.
BlackRock has sought to expand beyond indexed products, which account for about two-thirds of assets under management, and bolster its alternatives business. On Monday the New York-based company, with about $6 trillion in assets, said it had completed its first fundraising round for a private equity vehicle. The Long Term Private Capital fund secured $2.75 billion from investors, Bloomberg reported yesterday.
Other moves outlined in the memo include:
- Anne Ackerley will assume responsibility for the retail financial institutions group business and take sole leadership of the retirement solutions group.
- BlackRock Vice Chairman Philipp Hildebrand will serve as chairman of both the financial institutions group and financial markets advisory teams, in addition to his other roles.
- Rick Rieder will lead the global allocation investment team, and will be a portfolio manager for global allocation alongside Dan Chamby, Russ Koesterich and David Clayton.
- Supurna VedBrat will become head of global trading. Richie Prager will retire in July.
- Rob Fairbairn will become vice chairman of BlackRock, responsible for some of the firm’s most complex clients and will report to Fink.
- Armando Senra becomes head of U.S., Canada and Latin America iShares; Dominik Rohe succeeds Senra as head of the Latin America region; and Andrew Landman succeeds Rohe as head of Australasia.
The Wall Street Journal reported the changes earlier Tuesday.
“Today we are making a number of changes designed to ensure we stay ahead of our clients’ and society’s needs,” Fink and President Rob Kapito wrote in the memo.