In a letter to BlackRock shareholders Thursday, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, relayed the firm’s success in 2021 and pledged that the company would focus on alpha going forward.
Mr. Fink said the firm will “continue to keep alpha at the heart of BlackRock;” accelerate growth in its iShares ETF business, private markets and Aladdin, BlackRock’s risk-management system; “deliver whole portfolio advice and solutions to our clients; and be the global leader in sustainable investing.”
Among new areas that BlackRock is studying are digital currencies, stablecoins and the underlying technologies “to understand how they can help us serve our clients,” Mr. Fink said.
BlackRock will continue to help its clients “navigate the energy transition,” including collaboration with hydrocarbon companies that have an important role in the economy and in the clean-energy transition, he wrote.
Internally, BlackRock’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains a priority and the company has “strengthened talent acquisition and management processes to mitigate bias and implemented leadership development, sponsorship and coaching initiatives to engage and develop diverse talent,” Mr. Fink said.
As for his own position at BlackRock, Mr. Fink told shareholders in his letter that “developing the next generation of leaders for this company” is one of the top priorities for him and the board of directors.
“We take a long-term approach to developing our leaders,” he wrote. “While I’m not planning to leave any time soon, I have always said that my goal is to ensure that when all of BlackRock’s founding partners … have moved on, the firm will be even better than it is today.”
He added that the firm has “a thoughtful succession plan and process in place not only for the CEO but (for) every senior leader at the firm who plays a critical role in driving BlackRock’s business.”
Mr. Fink expressed his feelings about the Russian invasion of Ukraine stressing that the situation “truly heartbreaking.”
He said that BlackRock doesn’t have offices or operations in Russia or Ukraine and added that “in consultation with our stakeholders,” BlackRock joined the global effort to isolate Russia from financial markets. Mr. Fink didn’t elaborate in the letter.
Dipping well into the past, Mr. Fink said since the firm’s initial public offering in 1999, BlackRock has generated a total of more than 9,000% for shareholders, compared to 468% for the S&P 500 index over the same time period.
He added that in 2021, the firm produced “the strongest organic growth within our history” including the firm’s assets under management hitting a new high of $10.01 trillion as of Dec. 31; organic base fee growth of 11%, a new record; and net inflows of $540 billion for the year.