Campaign for Accountability Launches the “BlackRock Transparency Project” to Investigate the Political Influence of World’s Largest Asset Manager
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) launched the BlackRock Transparency Project to investigate the influence of BlackRock – the world’s largest asset manager – on governments, public policy, and our everyday lives. As a part of the launch, CfA has released three new reports tracking BlackRock’s efforts to influence government.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “While company CEO Larry Fink positions Blackrock as a paragon of corporate virtue, declaring that all companies must “serve a social purpose”, our reporting reveals that Blackrock’s own business model is opaque, and conflict-riddled.”
BlackRock’s financial power and influence is staggering: It’s Aladdin risk management platform, described by some as the “Amazon of Wall Street”, tracks $18 trillion in financial assets – equal to more than 13 percent of the world’s GDP (PPP). The company’s $6.28 trillion of assets under management equals more than 30 percent of America’s $19.9 trillion GDP.
The secretive BlackRock Solutions division regularly advises and consults with government officials and central bankers. In the U.S. and U.K., Fink and senior BlackRock officials have met with key financial policymakers hundreds of times since the financial crisis of 2008. At the same time, the company has assiduously courted former financial regulators, central bankers, and government officials who have joined the company as key employees, advisors, and consultants.
BlackRock’s operations and dealings with governments are not without controversy. For instance, a key BlackRock executive, who today oversees the company’s highly sensitive work for central banks and governments, was forced to resign as the head of the Swiss National Bank in 2012 over an insider trading scandal. Additionally, BlackRock’s extraordinary access to the halls of power may have halted the U.S. government’s attempt to designate BlackRock a “systemically important” financial institution, which would have resulted in additional regulations for the company.
As BlackRock’s power has grown, so too have concerns about the extent to which the company has leveraged its access to government officials for its own benefit. BlackRock has always maintained that the firm carefully manages potential conflicts through a “Chinese Wall” separating the firm’s analytics and advisory units from its asset-management businesses. An analysis of BlackRock statements, marketing materials and executive profiles, however, indicates that the company’s assurances may carry little weight in practice. Some company employees, for example, have worked as advisors to central bankers and government officials before moving over to asset management divisions.
CfA is launching the BlackRock Transparency Project as a comprehensive research initiative to help the public track BlackRock’s influence around the world and hold it to the high standard it suggests all companies must meet. Information about BlackRock and its influence will be housed in a single site, easily searchable by users.
Stevens continued, “BlackRock is a behemoth financial organization with unparalleled access to government officials around the globe. Given the company’s power and size, the public should have more information about BlackRock’s operations and how it has been able to evade the level of scrutiny applied to other large financial institutions. As people have learned more about the influence of tech companies like Google over their lives, the more they’ve become concerned. CfA plans to shed light on BlackRock so that Americans can develop similarly informed opinions about an enormous institution virtually unknown to the vast majority.”
Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.