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BlackRock taps Citi exec to lead digital wealth unit

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BlackRock has named Venu Krishnamurthy as the head of its new digital wealth unit.

He will join the asset management giant from Citi, where he was the U.S. head of Citigold and Citi Priority client segments, as well as Citi Personal Wealth Management, according to an internal memo provided by the firm to Financial Planning.

“[Krishnamurthy] brings to the firm a unique mix of experience leading global platforms, developing digital products, and operating wealth management businesses,” noted Rob Goldstein, BlackRock chief operating officer.

At Citi, Krishnamurthy oversaw development of a suite of investment products and services. He also led the national wealth management sales force. Previously, he served as global chief financial officer for Citi’s private bank out of London, and chief operating officer of global wealth management in Singapore.

Krishnamurthy started his career as an IBM engineer before joining Softbank as an investor with its eVentures fund. He then switched to advising companies, spending almost a decade at McKinsey in Asia and the Boston Consulting Group in the U.S.

His appointment comes as BlackRock, which has over $6 trillion in assets under management, intensifies its efforts to recalibrate its organization and product offerings for a digital era.

In October, BlackRock consolidated its array of advisor tech business operations into a single unit, consisting of four underlying groups: product, which includes robo offering FutureAdvisor; business development; platform and sales tech; and advisor engagement.

As more fintechs, other asset managers and incumbent tech firms jockey to provide technology to advisory firms, BlackRock has made its risk analysis tool, Aladdin, available to wealth management firms. UBS, which has nearly 7,000 U.S.-based advisors, was the first to partner with BlackRock.

BlackRock has also made several strategic investments in fintech firms, most recently leading a $50 million funding round into popular microinvesting app Acorns.

“This is a pivotal moment in the wealth management industry and for the role that BlackRock is playing and will continue to play,” Goldstein noted in his memo.

“With [Krishnamurthy’s] background and expertise, we are excited to have him lead the team in expanding our reach to more distribution partners, financial advisors, and ultimately to help them better serve their clients.”

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