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Succession Planning at BlackRock, Fidelity and Other Giants



In many cases, U.S. asset managers have struggled to adapt once a founding CEO or key head departs. Typically asset manager CEOs carry a persona that attaches them to the brand and investment philosophy. In early April, Laurence Fink, chief executive and co-founder of BlackRock Inc., promoted a number of executives globally. BlackRock President Robert Kapito, who has been in that role since 2007, reiterated Fink would remain with the firm for years to come.

Recent BlackRock Executive Promotions

BlackRock Executive Current Role Promotion
Charlie Hallac Chief Operating Officer Co-President
Rob Goldstein Global Head of BlackRock’s Institutional Client Business (ICB) and BlackRock Solutions (BRS) Chief Operating Officer
Rich Kushel Deputy Chief Operating Officer Chief Product Officer
Mark McCombe Head of Asia-Pacific Global Head of Institutional Clients, Chairman of BlackRock Alternative Investors
Ryan Stork Head of Aladdin Business Head of Asia-Pacific
Ken Wilson Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors Chairman of Alpha Strategies
Patrick Olson Global Head of Strategy and Planning Chief Operating Officer of EMEA


Fidelity Investments

In 2012, Abigail Johnson, daughter of the current Chairman, was promoted to president at Fidelity Investments. A move that has her in line of succeeding Fidelity Chair Edward Johnson III. The family-controlled Fidelity (49% of voting shares) has been managed by Edward Johnson for 35 years. Harvard MBA-educated Johnson started her financial career at Fidelity back in 1988 as a mutual fund manager.


PIMCO lost Mohamed El-Erian in March and quickly the firm promoted a cadre of executives – six deputy chief investment officers. According to a post on PIMCO’s website, authored by Founder Bill Gross in February 2014, “It now includes six Deputy CIOs, each of whom will be leading an individual “channel” of assets, with oversight of trading desks or specialist areas or both. Their primary responsibilities are investment performance, overseeing day-to-day strategy formulation, implementation and risk management for their areas. They report to me.”

Here is the BlackRock memo:



One of the keys to BlackRock’s success – past and future – is developing people and embedding our culture. For the past five years, together with the Board, we have pursued a deliberate effort to build a deep bench of executive talent by mapping leaders to roles that present them with new challenges, broaden their horizons and maximize their impact with the firm and our clients. Periodically moving leaders to new roles as part of this process was a key rationale for the re-organization of the firm in 2012 and is a key driver of the management changes we are announcing today.

Talent is something we manage vigorously and review consistently with the Board. Our intensive approach has created a wide pool of leaders, some of whom grew up at BlackRock, some of whom came here through merger, and some of whom joined from other firms. What they share is a commitment to common culture and excellence it encourages. As strong a group as we have today, developing and challenging our people is something we can never stop doing if we want to build a great and enduring company. It remains a top priority for the firm.

Among our “home grown” leaders, no one exemplifies the values and spirit of BlackRock better than Charlie Hallac, our Chief Operating Officer. An initial architect of Aladdin, Charlie has been one of our most original and gifted leaders since joining the firm shortly after its formation in 1988.

· To reflect the central role that Charlie plays at the company and his focus going forward, Charlie will assume a new position as Co-President of BlackRock, effective June 1. Working with us, Charlie will focus on defining and driving our forward strategy, developing our broad bench of leaders and continuing to instill the BlackRock culture in everything we do. The client businesses, investment groups and product management will continue to report to Charlie and Rob Kapito.

A vital component of the forward strategy is technology and how it continues to reshape our industry and the world around us. Our ability to leverage Aladdin even more is a tremendous and unique growth driver for us. So, we’ve asked Charlie to assemble and lead a working group to think through how BlackRock technology can further transform our company and industry.

As many of you know, Charlie is battling colon cancer. Yet, even while undergoing treatment, Charlie is at the office day after day, helping us to create and execute our vision with the same genius, humor and creativity that have defined him as a leader and colleague these past 26 years. We are grateful that BlackRock will continue to benefit from his leadership in this new role.

In addition to Charlie, several other senior executives will also take on new positions, while others will continue to lead from their current roles. To ensure time for smooth transitions of responsibilities, all the changes will become effective June 1. Please note that we are not making any changes to portfolio managers or client relationship managers. The changes we are making include:

· Rob Goldstein, currently Global Head of BlackRock’s Institutional Client Business (ICB) and BlackRock Solutions (BRS), will become Chief Operating Officer. Rob began his career at BlackRock as an analyst in the Portfolio Analytics Group 20 years ago and has played a key role in developing BlackRock Solutions, the Aladdin business and, most recently, leading our Institutional Client Business. As COO, Rob will work with Rob Kapito and Charlie overseeing the day-to-day global business of the firm and ensuring the necessary connectivity, coordination and operating processes across the organization.

Rob will continue to lead BlackRock Solutions, where he has helped to drive double-digit growth and to develop its global client base since its founding.

· Rich Kushel will become our Chief Product Officer. We are elevating this role to reflect how vital our product strategy is to our future success. Rich’s leadership of the Strategic Product Management group has redefined our product development and management process, bringing strategic focus and executional discipline to our product portfolio. Now we must take it to the next level and drive innovation throughout the organization to offer solutions that meet our clients’ most vital needs. In addition to leading our product strategy, Rich will continue to oversee the BlackRock Investment Institute and our Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment team, and he will continue to work closely with Rob Kapito and Charlie on a broad range of firm-wide issues.

· Mark McCombe, who serves as Chairman of BlackRock Asia Pacific, will become Global Head of BlackRock’s Institutional Client Business, based in New York. As head of our APAC business, Mark has put the region on a sustainable growth path by attracting top talent and sharpening our focus on clients and investment performance. Mark also has been instrumental in developing relationships with some of the firm’s largest clients, including official institutions and financial institutions in Asia, which will be invaluable in his new role. To facilitate a smooth leadership transition in APAC, Mark will continue to serve as its Chairman through year-end.

In addition, Mark will become Chairman of BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI). Aligning BAI and our Institutional Business under Mark’s leadership will be highly accretive to our alternatives growth strategy. He will work with Andy Stewart and Matt Botein, who will continue to co-head the alternatives business, and Edwin Conway, who (in addition to leading ICB in the U.S. and Canada) is responsible for the Alternative Investors Strategy Group.

· Ryan Stork, Global Head of the Aladdin Business within BlackRock Solutions, will become Head of BlackRock Asia Pacific, based in Hong Kong. Ryan has broad global experience and a record of growing a strategic business. As head of the Aladdin client business since 2009, Ryan has driven rapid expansion of the business globally – broadening the international mix of clients on the platform including major new clients in both Europe and Asia. Earlier in his career, he played a key role in leading integration among our client businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He will work closely with Mark McCombe and succeed Mark as Chairman of Asia Pacific at year-end.

· Quintin Price, who has led the revitalization of Alpha Strategies, will be moving to New York. The strong performance achieved for our clients – with more than 70% of assets performing ahead of their benchmarks on a one, three and five-year basis – has been one of the firm’s most significant accomplishments in recent years. Quintin will lead this ongoing effort from New York and continue to spend significant time in EMEA and Asia.

· Ken Wilson, who has served as Chairman of BlackRock Alternative Investors since its creation, will become Chairman of Alpha Strategies, working closely with Quintin to leverage the team’s momentum and to further develop and reintroduce our Alpha platform to the marketplace.

· Patrick Olson, who is Global Head of Strategy and Planning, will become Chief Operating Officer of EMEA and join the EMEA Executive Committee. Patrick, who has expressed a desire to get more directly involved in operating a business, will work closely with David Blumer, Head of EMEA, to help manage the growing complexities of operating in the region, while also providing critical connectivity around the world.

Investor Relations and Corporate Development, that were part of the strategy organization, will now become part of Finance reporting to Chief Financial Officer Gary Shedlin.

· Salim Ramji, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, will join the firm later this month as Global Head of Corporate Strategy. Salim most recently led McKinsey’s Asset Management and Retirement Practice areas and is among the most thoughtful, strategic leaders helping to shape the future of our industry. Having worked with BlackRock as a strategic advisor for many years, Salim knows the firm and its people well and will be a tremendous addition.

· Sudhir Nair, currently Head of Business Development and Implementations & Delivery for the Aladdin Business, will become Global Head of the Aladdin Institutional Business. Sudhir has played an integral role in helping to build and develop our Aladdin business over the past 14 years, initially starting as an analyst in the Portfolio Analytics Group. His deep knowledge of Aladdin as a platform and of our client base will ensure a seamless transition and continued focus on our growth strategy.

The existing Aladdin business is being renamed to highlight its focus on our institutional client base, while Charlie leads the working group described above in exploring other ways to leverage Aladdin, including for the firm’s retail clients.

We are fortunate to have so many gifted leaders across the firm, but that has not happened by chance. It has come through our deliberate approach to developing our people, continuously giving them new opportunities and challenges. That is something we are deeply committed to doing with talent at every level of the organization. It has allowed us to build a team of leaders capable of far more than any individual and is the only way to build a great and enduring company. Please join us in congratulating all of those taking on new roles, many of them in new businesses and new parts of the world.

Finally, we want to thank everyone across the firm for everything you are doing day in and day out to make BlackRock what it is today and what it can be in the years to come.

Larry and Rob

Anne Sheehan to Retire, CalSTRS 1st Corp Gov Director



Anne Sheehan, the first Corporate Governance Director at California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the current one, plans to retire March 30, 2018. Sheehan’s team manages an activist portfolio worth around US$ 4.1 billion, seeking to influence and help turnaround its large portfolio holdings in select public companies. Sheehan was hired back in 2008.

Christopher J. Ailman, CalSTRS’ chief investment officer, said in a organization release, “Anne has been my most unconventional, best hire.”

A replacement search is underway.

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Temasek Rides with Google on Go-Jek



Singapore’s Temasek Holdings has reportedly joined forces with Google LLC and Chinese on-demand service provider Meituan-Dianping as part of a US$ 1.2 billion fundraising effort for Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek that has put regional rivals like Uber and Singapore-based Grab on notice.

Screen Shot Go-Jek, January 19, 2018

Although exact figures for individual stakes have so far been kept secret, the new infusion of capital puts Go-Jek, incorporated as PT Aplikasi Karya Anak Bangsa, at a valuation of roughly US$ 4 billion. Samsung Venture Investment Corporation also participated in funding, as well as existing private equity investors KKR & Co. LP and Warburg Pincus LLC.

Google’s direct involvement in Go-Jek’s growth – rather than through its Google Ventures unit – highlights its faith in the latent potential of ride-sharing services – and the tech-enabled consumer services sector as a whole – in Southeast Asia. Home to more than 640 million potential customers, the region was identified as the fastest growing emerging market for e-commerce globally in an industry report published jointly by Google and Temasek last December. According to data compiled by the internet-giant and the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund, ride-sharing in Southeast Asia is expected to grow into a US$ 20.1 billion industry by 2025, compared to US$ 5.1 billion in 2017.

2011 Origin Story

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Temasek Leads Series B Round for Chinese Robo Startup Rokid



Rokid Corporation Limited, a Chinese robotics startup that specializes in smart devices assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), announced the closing of a Series B extension round through its WeChat account on January 18, 2018. The capital-raising effort was led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, with additional contributions from Credit Suisse Group, China Development Bank’s overseas investment arm CDIB Capital International, and existing investor IDG Capital. Although Rokid did not disclose the size or terms of the deal in its announcement, the technology company reportedly secured US$ 100 million in funding.

Founded in 2014 by chief executive Mingming Zhu and chief financial officer Eric Wong, Rokid’s core products consist of its smart speakers, the Rokid Pebble and Alien, as well as the newly debuted Rokid Glass augmented reality spectacles. The company’s most exciting offering, however, is its Full Stack Open Platform, a collaborative effort made in partnership with Alibaba that gives third-party developers backdoor access Rokid’s software suite and hardware integration and will – it hopes – help give its offerings the accessibility and recognition they need to thrive outside its home market of China.

Rokid is particularly keen on bringing its products to the U.S., where it believes it can challenge Google and Amazon’s dominance in the smart home arena. Amazon makes the Amazon Echo, while Google has Google Home.

The Series B

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