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Rating:A New Focus Makes BlackRock Popular with the RIAs Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A New Focus Makes BlackRock Popular with the RIAs

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

If you could bottle it, everyone would be popular with the RIAs.

One year after merging the BlackRock and iShares sales operations, the asset giant is now kicking up its initiatives for wooing advisors.

Sue Thompson, managing director, and head of BlackRock’s Retail and iShares RIA distribution teams in the U.S. described the consolidation effort in this way:

We have spent the past year integrating the sales teams. One team covered RIAs and sold mutuals funds. The other team covered iShares. We have put those teams together.

The team is obviously twice as big as it was before

Our investment management consultants have better work life balances with smaller territories.

Customers love having just one point of contact with BlackRock. It's almost like having a concierge.

We are a very complex firm. We have many different offerings: DC I-O products, SMAs, actively managed funds, alternatives. You don't want to have 16 different contacts. The customer know now that they can contact one person and he or she will find what they need.

The wholesaling team now consists primarily of the following: 12 territories, each with an investment management consultant and an investment management associate.

In addition to the sales folk, BlackRock has other specialized teams for serving customers.

For example, there is a unit called Multi Asset Portfolio Investment Consulting (MAPIC). This group consists of CFAs that help clients better understand their ETF portfolios, like providing stress tests for hypothetical rises in interest rates or gas prices.

MAPIC consists of roughly 25 people, with five dedicated to RIAs.

Then there is the capital markets team, which consists of around 50 trading experts, with around four dedicated to RIAs, that help clients best execute ETF trades.

Meanwhile, BlackRock is reaching out to RIAs in other ways. For example, it is in the midst of developing an advisory council that will consist of some of the top RIAs in the country.

Also in Spring, 2014, BlackRock will take a group of RIAs to Harvard for two days, where the RIAs will spend time with professor to work on best practices on such topics as succession planning and marketing.

Then in the Fall of 2014, BlackRock will take a group of CIOs from these wealth management firms to the University of Pennsylvania.

This is a huge focus for BlackRock. We've always had a very strong showing with RIAs on the iShares side, but BlackRock is relatively unknown.

"When you think about Black, it is beyond just being the world's largest investment manager. The core of what it does is being a fiduciary. We don't do anything but investment management and we do it as a fiduciary, just like RIAs," she said.

The outreach is paying off. For example, Thompson said, RIAs are showing interest in a number of actively managed funds by BlackRock including the BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities Fund BSIIX, BlackRock Global Allocation Fund MALOX, BlackRock Multi-Asset Income Fund BAICX, BlackRock Global Long/Short Credit Fund BGCIX.

"At our core, we have our risk management capabilities. There is a reason why an AIG or the Federal government would call us, because we have the most advanced risk analytics system in the world. When you think about how RIAs construct their portfolios, they are very risk-sensitive investors. When RIAs get to know BlackRock better, they will find kindred spirits," she said. 

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