‘Growing on its own’ will be the challenge that BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) will be facing in the very near future. Susan L. Wagner, one of the founders of the group, who devised BlackRock’s growth by overseeing purchases including the fund units of Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC)’s Merrill Lynch & Co. and Barclays Plc (LON:BARC) (NYSE:BCS) retired last month. Wagner sent out clear a message, that future growth has to come from within the company i.e. attracting investor deposits rather than by acquisitions.
Wagner in spent over two decades at BlackRock, serving in various positions including Chief operating officer, head of corporate strategy and head of the alternative-investments business. She will continue to serve as a director of DSP BlackRock Investment Managers, joint venture in India.
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With Wagners’ departure BlackRock is left with three of the eight co-founders in an active management role including; Larry Fink, who is chairman and chief executive officer, and Robert Kapito, the president. According to Bloomberg, Fink has never revealed publicly his interest in a government role but in private conversations with other Wall Street executives, never ruled out his interest in the position of Treasury Secretary should President Obama get re- elected.
One of the most important acquisitions by Blackrock was Barclays Plc (NYSE:BCS) Global Investors unit in 2009. It was unique synergy of an active fund company which picks individual stocks and bonds, with passive funds which deal with market benchmarks. This alliance helped BlackRock as clients pulled out $40 billion from BlackRock’s active stock and bond funds in 2011, and put $52 billion into its iShares stock and bond ETFs.
It hasn’t been a good going for the company. According to the data compiled by Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ:MORN) BlackRock’s actively managed U.S. mutual funds trailed 54 percent of peers on an annualized basis, for the three years ended June 30.
In Fixed income funds, BlackRock experienced withdrawals while other players asset managers gained large deposits. To overcome such trends, the company decided to giving greater autonomy and assign higher accountability to its unit heads, according to an internal memo sent to some employees. Previously, the day-to-day business management was handled under a single unit.
With the volatile stock market keeping investors away, the company has shifted its focus to alternative assets like as hedge funds, retirement-oriented strategies, and products that allocate money across multiple asset classes.
Larry ink along with other executives are working these days on brand building. Senior staff are publicly speaking to investors about safe investing.“One of our most important jobs for the future is going to be the continuation of building our brand,” Fink said last year. “This is going to be a big and aggressive campaign over the next five years.”