The world’s largest asset manager Blackrock Inc. (NYSE:BLK) is seeking to increase the awareness of the brand beyond its usual Wall Street confines and into the domain of the wider public. The company’s co-founder Laurence D. Fink is looking to assert his views, along with the company’s name,into the media in order to instill the firm with greater control and power. The company handles just over $3.5 trillion in assets at this stage more than any other of its type. That amount of money spread out in the economy entitles the investment firm to a larger voice in the public sphere according to Fink.
Fink wants to become a leader in corporate governance and instill certain values into the company’s that Blackrock has interests in in order to become a champion of corporate social responsibilities. Some of the key issues he seeks to contribute his influence to are the regulation of ETFs, the acceptable level of regulation in the market, which he sees as higher than many of his peers, the better treatment of shareholders and the benefits of holding equities for a longer term, something Fink says would increase stability and long term gains in the market.
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His views are firmly opposed to what many would see as the general ideals held by those in similar positions. He seeks to change the economy so that it grows in a more sustainable and comprehensible way. His avocation of regulation is certainly unusual in his circumstances and although others have come out with similar views on corporate governance that does not dilute his views on the subject. If his moves are successful we should be seeing, and hearing, a lot more of him on our airwaves
Blackrock went public in 1999 which saw it raise $126 million. Since then good management and some key acquisitions have seen the company bloom into the largest manager of assets in the world. It’s shares have gained 40% since 2006 much of that based on acquisitions of other investment firms such as Merril Lynch’s investment wing and Barclays Global Investors. The company holds over 5% in some 600 different companies that it sent letters to earlier this year imploring them to redefine their relationships with their shareholders and work better with their owners. The company’s attempts to build a brand as a leader in corporate culture is certainly an interesting topic. Many fund managers carve out such a role and many others shy away from it. The late entry of Fink into the game suggests that something has changed for him.
Whatever has caused him to begin branding the company publicly, whether a business or a personal decision, it will take some work to get to the top. The media world is as demanding as it is fickle, one wrong move can send somebody off screen indefinitely and tarnish a brand irreparably. Whether Fink is ready for this sort of pressure or not is anybody’s guess, though he has built his company to become the largest asset manager in the world so it seems likely the stress won’t get to him. Blackrock’s crusade to break into the public eye will certainly be one to watch in the coming months.