Asset management firm BlackRock lost $1.7-trillion of its clients' investments since the start of 2022, the figure represents the largest sum ever lost by a single firm in a six-month period, according to Bloomberg analyst, Mark Rubenstein.
In the report, which was published on Wednesday, BlackRock, which maintains holdings in Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, revealed the extent of the carnage during an investor call last week.
“2022 ranks as the worst start in 50 years for both stocks and bonds,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink.
According to Rubenstein, BlackRock’s massive loss comes due to its reliance on passive investment, which often suffers during short-term declines in the stock market.
“While few firms are able to avoid what the market throws at them, some at least try to overcome it. BlackRock is increasingly giving up: At the end of June, only about a quarter of its assets were actively managed to beat a benchmark — rather than track it seamlessly as passive strategies are designed to do. That’s down from a third when BlackRock acquired Barclays Global Investors in 2009 to become the leading player in exchange-traded funds,” Rubenstein explained.
“Within the equities business, the divergence is especially pronounced. Across the industry, assets have leached away from active strategies and into passive. In BlackRock’s case, around $21-billion has flowed out of active equity in the past decade, with $730-billion flowing into indexed equity. The firm’s passive equity holdings are now 10 times larger than its active business, although it does operate some active multi-asset and alternatives strategies that narrow the gap,” Rubenstein continued. “For portfolio managers on the fixed-income side, the evolution of the business portends an ominous future.”
In recent years, BlackRock has garnered a lot of attention for its advocacy of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, which has suffered in the recent economic downturn.
Under its ESG agenda, BlackRock has pushed the companies it invests in into adopting ESG goals, which include the pursuit of renewable energy, appointing token minorities in management positions, and sacrificing profit to push for social justice.
As detailed by BlackRock's own report from May, the company’s “firm-wide” efforts have prompted it to engage with investee companies on ESG issues to enhance long-term value.”
The push for ESG has been a top-down policy within BlackRock, with the company’s CEO Larry Fink bragging about how the firm is “forcing behaviors.”
“You have to force behavior and if you don’t force behavior whether it’s gender or race or any way you want to say the composition of your team, you’re going to be impacted,” said Fink in a 2017 interview.