BlackRock reshapes top team to boost firepower against critics

BlackRock has named a new chief financial officer as part of a reshuffle that positions the world’s largest asset manager to fight back against criticism and promotes younger executives.

Founder Larry Fink remains firmly in control of BlackRock but is bolstering his team with several new vice chairs who will focus on outreach. In recent months, the group has come under fire from both the right and the left for its huge stakes in every large US company and its approach to environmental, social and governance investing.

Martin Small will replace Gary Shedlin, the outgoing finance chief and a former Citigroup and Morgan Stanley investment banker, from next year. As a vice chair, Shedlin will continue to work with strategic clients, especially other financial institutions. Mark McCombe, who has been leading the fight against Texas’s plans to designate BlackRock as “hostile” to fossil fuels, will focus full time on “broader engagement . . . with a wider range of stakeholders”, Fink and Rob Kapito, president, wrote in a Monday memo to staff.

The $8.5tn money manager said that its ESG initiatives served client needs and that it was also investing to help carbon heavy industries become greener. On Monday, the group rebranded its sustainable investing unit as “Sustainable and Transition Solutions”. Jessica Tan, formerly head of corporate strategy, will be in charge and will report to Philipp Hildebrand, another vice chair.

“Sustainability is one of the most important growth opportunities for the firm, and these changes will allow us to further leverage the advantages of our BlackRock platform,” Hildebrand wrote in another message.

The reshuffle also added to the portfolio of Mark Wiedman, seen as one of a handful of possible successors to Fink. Already head of International, he is picking up McCombe’s old responsibilities as head of the US and Canada, making him the chief of a new Global Client Business.

Fink and Kapito wrote that the new unit has two goals, “the first is to deliver the firm locally to clients around the world, to build our brand . . . The second is to listen and bring back insights and opportunities.”

The reshuffle did not affect the responsibilities of three other executives seen as potential heirs, Rob Goldstein, Rich Kushel and Manish Mehta, but half a dozen younger executives are moving into bigger roles.

“We regularly evolve our management team to grow leaders in new roles across the firm. It enhances their understanding of BlackRock and helps us better anticipate our clients’ future needs,” Fink and Kapito wrote.

Most notably, Small’s promotion will broaden his experience — he will pick up oversight of corporate strategy from Wiedman — and bring him into the cadre of very senior executives.

Small joined BlackRock as a lawyer in 2006 and has most recently been running its US wealth advisory business.

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