Vanguard and BlackRock Bet On a Pair of Startups
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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Vanguard and BlackRock Bet On a Pair of Startups

The folks at BlackRock and Vanguard are making investments in a pair of startups.

Thomas M. "Tom" Rampulla
Managing Director of Financial Advisor Services
Yesterday Tim Buckley, chairman and CEO of Vanguard, unveiled a deal to buy Just Invest, which offers the Kaleidoscope direct indexing program. Meanwhile, Martin Small, head of BlackRock's U.S. wealth advisory business, confirms that BlackRock has agreed to make a minority investment in SpiderRock Advisors, a custom options strategies SMA shop. Pricing and terms of the deals have not been publicly disclosed.

Several reports describe Vanguard's Just Invest deal as Vanguard's first-ever acquisition. Buckley pitches the deal as part of the firm's efforts "to democratize valuable investment capabilities and products." Tom Rampulla, managing director of financial advisor services at Vanguard, notes that the deal comes after a 1.5-year pilot direct indexing program, powered by Just Invest, for Vanguard's RIA clients.

"With Vanguard's tremendous brand, reach, and investment leadership, we will be able to help even more advisors drive better investment outcomes for their clients," states Jonathan Hudacko, CEO of Just Invest.

Just Invest now has more than $1 billion in AUM. The Vanguard-Just Invest deal is expected to close in Q4. PJT Partners and Cooley LLP advised Vanguard on the deal.

Meanwhile, the BlackRock team frames their partnership with SpiderRock as part of BlackRock's broader effort in the personalized SMA space.

"We are eager to help advisors access SpiderRock Advisors' capabilities to help them build tax-efficient, highly customizable portfolios that can generate income and manage risk for their clients," Small states.

"With BlackRock's breadth of industry relationships, SpiderRock Advisors will be able to partner with more advisors to deliver tailored portfolios and help investors achieve their investment goals," states Eric Metz, president and chief investment officer of SpiderRock.

SpiderRock had about $2.5 billion in client assets as of March 31.

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