BlackRock to cut 3% workforce amid ‘market uncertainty’

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BlackRock is cutting 3% of its global workforce, the largest reduction in its headcount since 2016.

The world’s largest asset manager will dismiss about 500 employees in the weeks ahead, according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg News. The memo didn’t specify which businesses will be most affected.

Asset managers are under pressure as volatility roils markets and investors pile into low fee funds. The industry is also deploying technology across its businesses to reduce costs. State Street, the giant custody bank and asset manager, trimmed its senior management ranks by 15% starting Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. AQR Capital Management, the quant manager, is also cutting jobs after a dismal performance in 2018.

“Market uncertainty is growing, investor preferences are evolving and the ecosystem in which we operate is becoming increasingly complex,” Rob Kapito, BlackRock’s president, said in the memo.

The firm is seeking to “move decisively to refocus our resources where the impact will be greatest” and to operate more efficiently, Kapito wrote. BlackRock had about 14,900 employees as of September.

The announcement came just a day after the firm disclosed a major executive change. CEO Larry Fink promoted Mark Wiedman, the head of BlackRock’s powerhouse ETFs business, to a new global strategy role. Fink said more leadership changes were coming.

The top 20 are now home to nearly $1.2 trillion in combined assets.
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When BlackRock reported third-quarter earnings in October, long-term net inflows were at their lowest point since 2016. Fink said the firm was “not particularly happy” with the results. At the time, he attributed the weakness to geopolitical upheaval prompting investors to shed riskier positions.

The company’s shares slid 24% last year, the worst performance since 2008. Revenue has also been slowing. Third-quarter revenue fell 1% from the previous period. BlackRock is forecast to report a 4% decline for the fourth quarter, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company reports earnings next week.

Since 2013, a big round of layoffs has come every three years. The last time the company had cuts of this size was in March 2016, when it slashed 400 jobs. Before that, it cut jobs on a similar scale in 2013 after a reorganization.

Bloomberg News
Asset managers ETFs Career moves Markets and indexes Larry Fink BlackRock Money Management Executive