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BlackRock launches new research effort on retirement risks

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BlackRock Inc. is launching a new firmwide retirement research initiative and bringing back a former star to lead it.

In a memo sent to all BlackRock employees Nov. 4, Chairman and CEO Laurence D. Fink announced that Peter R. Fisher would be rejoining the firm in January to oversee the project. Though details on this new global initiative are scant, as it’s in its very nascent stages, Mr. Fink wrote in the memo that it will take advantage of the firm’s “collective knowledge of the dozens of markets where (it) already participate(s) in retirement systems.”

BlackRock declined to provide additional information beyond the memo at this time.

“The initiative will marry BlackRock’s deep knowledge of financial markets and financial modeling with insights into country-level differences in the inequality of wealth and income so that we can help frame choices and provide solutions to the retirement risks of longevity, asset and income volatility, and inflation,” Mr. Fink added in the memo. “Ultimately, this work will inform our client, product and investment teams as they design more customized solutions tailored to the idiosyncrasies of each market.”

Currently a clinical professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Mr. Fisher was previously head of fixed income at BlackRock before leaving in 2013. Prior to joining the New York-based manager, he was undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for domestic finance and executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“The majority of the assets we manage help fund people’s retirement. We need to better understand the demographic distribution of wealth and income across countries, and how that distribution is addressed by retirement systems today,” Mr. Fink wrote. “We need to learn how those facts shape the choices that individual savers, our institutional clients, and governments can make to pay for the retirements of aging populations.”