For its investment innovation

Tom Skrobe, BlackRock

Blackstone Financial Management was founded as a boutique investment management company specializing in fixed income by Laurence Fink and a team—mostly from First Boston—in 1988. The name BlackRock was established in 1992, and, three years later, the firm was acquired by PNC.

Most managers’ proprietary investment tools are restricted to money management, but BlackRock had other ideas. In the 1990s, it would come to find that risk management could be a related—but distinct—product line, separate from its investment management business. Thus, BlackRock Solutions was born. This risk-management, strategic-advisory and enterprise- investment-system-services offering was something that would truly set it apart from its competitors.

In the early 2000s, in order to move beyond being known only for its fixed-income capabilities, BlackRock launched a quantitative equity team. On a mission to continue its move beyond fixed income, the firm saw a number of strategic acquisitions that decade that led to the addition of products, services and innovation to provide solutions for clients.

In 2004, BlackRock expanded equity offerings through the acquisition of mutual fund business State Street Research & Management Company and SSR Realty Advisors Inc. from MetLife. In 2006, Merrill Lynch Investment Management (MLIM) merged with BlackRock. After that, the firm provided investment offerings of both U.S. and non-U.S. products in every major asset class.

In 2007, BlackRock acquired the fund-of-funds business of Quellos Group, creating a combined funds-of-funds platform named BlackRock Alternative Advisors. The purchase of Barclays Global Investors in 2009 gave it additional bragging rights. Now BlackRock could say it had created the first target-date fund (TDF), BGI in the early 1990s, and added a new investment structure to the BlackRock portfolio, BGI’s iShares exchange-traded fund (ETF) platform.

BlackRock continues on its mission to offer best-in-class solutions to its investors—for example, through its U.S. Fiduciary Management Solutions (FMS) unit for large institutional clients as well as through introduction of an all-index suite of target-date funds. With assets under management of more than $3.7 trillion across equity, fixed-income, cash management, alternative investment, real estate and advisory strategies, BlackRock has moved far beyond its fixed-income and boutique roots to become one of the most influential financial institutions in the world. —Alison Cooke Mintzer 

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