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Exclusive: BlackRock to ramp up impact investing
February 9, 2015 / 12:11 PM / 3 years ago

Exclusive: BlackRock to ramp up impact investing

The BlackRock logo is seen outside of its offices in New York January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) is planning an array of new investment products that will allow clients to invest in addressing large societal issues, such as global hunger or poverty, an executive at the New York-based firm said.

BlackRock was set to announce on Monday a new initiative, called BlackRock Impact, to bring together its existing offerings that help clients invest in products with environmental and societal goals, as well as introduce new products, Rich Kushel, chief product officer and head of strategic product management group, told Reuters.

BlackRock has tapped Deborah Winshel, the former president and chief operating officer of The Robin Hood Foundation, to oversee the initiative.

Winshel, who begins her new role March 2 and will report to Kushel and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, will work with BlackRock’s portfolio managers globally to develop portfolios and tools to meet client demand and societal issues.

Impact investing is not a new concept to Wall Street. A number of firms, like Goldman Sachs (GS.N), and Bank of America’s (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch unit are involved with social impact bonds that address a specific need, like reducing recidivism at a state prison, while bringing returns for investors.

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock Inc., gestures at the session 'The Global Economic Outlook' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 24, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

BlackRock is looking at ways to make impact investing more scalable to address a range of issues.

“What if you wanted to drive outcomes like poverty elimination or hunger elimination or the development of medicines?” Kushel said. He declined to elaborate on the products, but said he expects them to be launched “in the very near future.”

BlackRock, with $4.65 trillion in assets under management, already has an array of funds and tools for clients looking to invest in a socially responsible way. For example, the world’s largest asset manager manages more than $220 billion in values based mandates, which use screens to exclude securities based on clients’ values.

Additionally, the firm has a suite of environmental, social and corporate governance-related products. In December, the firm launched the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Exchange-traded Fund (CRBN.P).

Winshel will also lead BlackRock’s global philanthropic program.

Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by David Gregorio

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