Sustainable investing is a term that refers to the growing trend of tying investment strategies to their impact on society, specifically in terms of their environmental, social, and business outcomes. At BlackRock—a financial technology (FinTech) and asset management leader—innovation is a critical part of the company culture, so when it comes to the growing prominence of sustainable investing, they aren’t just capitalizing on a trend, they’re changing the way certain seemingly “intangible” factors are accounted for in investment strategies.
That’s where their focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) comes into play. Through technological and methodological advancements, BlackRock gathers data and creates unique models that power sustainable investment initiatives across the company.
To get an inside look at careers in this cutting-edge field, we connected with a few members of the various teams at BlackRock focused on ESG to learn about their experiences.
What Is ESG? How Does It Power Sustainable Investing Initiatives?
The ESG teams at BlackRock are dedicated to gathering data on environmental, social, and corporate governance factors that affect both present and future investments. While that might sound like a standard practice for an investment company, the way BlackRock approaches it is far from ordinary.
For example, one of the biggest environmental factors is climate change. With far-reaching impacts from unpredictable weather to the availability of resources, climate change will shift everything in our world. But while some investment firms’ response to this is to allocate specific funds to “environmental investing,” BlackRock’s teams are creating new ways of tracking the potential impact of climate change and integrating that data into every investment decision.
The ESG teams at BlackRock are dedicated to gathering data on environmental, social, and corporate governance factors that affect both present and future investments. While that might sound like a standard practice for an investment company, the way BlackRock approaches it is far from ordinary. For example, one of the biggest environmental factors is climate change. With far-reaching impacts from unpredictable weather to the availability of resources, climate change will shift everything in our world. But while some investment firms’ response to this is to allocate specific funds to “environmental investing,” BlackRock’s teams are creating new ways of tracking the potential impact of climate change and integrating that data into every investment decision.
Larry Fink, Chief Executive Officer
That’s one of the primary differences between BlackRock’s approach to sustainable investing and the traditional approach: It’s not a one-off venture or a side project, it’s about changing the way companies gather data about these factors in order to make investment decisions for the good of their clients and the world.
And, as Manling, an Analyst on the Sustainable Investing team tells us, those things are often far more aligned than someone with a traditional understanding of investing might think.
“Our research reveals that focusing on financially relevant ESG factors can lead to better risk-adjusted returns for our clients (i.e. good for business versus good for society),” Manling explains. “Instead, as market prices shift with consumer preference, regulatory changes, and technological innovations related to sustainability, we expect companies with better ESG performance to be better positioned in the long run.”
Creating A Better World Requires More Than Just An Investment Strategy
As a firm that manages over $7.4 trillion in investments on behalf of its clients and has more than 16,000 employees around the world, BlackRock recognizes that there are more ways for them to make a difference than through investing alone.
From an environmental standpoint, BlackRock has taken aggressive action to reduce their carbon footprint. They’ve pledged to power all offices and data centers with 100 percent renewable energy and to offset the carbon output of 100 percent of their business travel by the end of 2020.
On the human capital side, the company is continually working to enhance diversity and inclusion at the firm. One way BlackRock demonstrates this commitment is by truly listening to their employees who take part in an annual survey designed to anonymously crowdsource input on how the company’s culture can improve and evolve. This is part of the reason BlackRock invests so heavily in employee networks that are designed to cultivate inclusion and support diverse talent.
“Last year, I participated in Fast-track to FinTech, a program to introduce and hire women in STEM to opportunities in the financial services industry. I’ve also participated in BlackRock’s Hackathon, which is a firm-wide effort that connects people across teams and business functions to solve problems or create new solutions using a variety of different perspectives.”
Richa, Analyst, Portfolio Analytics Group
Getting involved isn’t just something that’s determined by the highest levels of the company either.
“Throughout the year, BlackRock amplifies employees’ efforts to positively contribute to their local communities,” Rhoda says. “Our 23 BlackRock Gives committees award nonprofits nominated by our colleagues with funding each year. BlackRock Gives supports local non-profits in the communities that our employees live and work in through volunteering, donation matches, and grants.”
And that means whether it’s supporting a local food bank or raising funds around the world for some of the most pressing crises like wildfires in Australia or earthquakes in Puerto Rico, BlackRock employees can count on their fellow colleagues—and the company—to help out. And while these efforts might seem far away from the firm’s FinTech and investment focus, supporting the communities that need it most is pivotal to BlackRock’s ability to achieve its purpose of helping more and more people experience financial well-being.
“As someone who works in sustainable investing, [efforts like these] reaffirm to me that I am at the right place to make a lasting impact,” Ashwin, a Vice President on the Global Fixed Income team, says.
Cutting-Edge FinTech And Investment Strategies Mean Constant Growth Opportunities For New Grads
Given the diverse backgrounds of the firm’s team—BlackRock actively recruits new grads of all majors—it’s no wonder that the firm is so dedicated to changing the way FinTech and investment companies operate, both for the common good and the bottom line. Working on cutting-edge initiatives (like ESG-powered investments) can also have benefits for your career trajectory at the firm.
“Simply put BlackRock is a leader in everything it does,” Robert, an Analyst with the Global Public Policy Group who joined BlackRock in 2018, says. Robert’s team engages with policymakers and advocates for public policies that enhance financial market transparency, protect investors, and facilitate the responsible growth of capital markets.
“It is a tremendous privilege to work at a firm that has the reputation of being a leader in the industry. Ultimately what keeps me at BlackRock is the challenge to live up to the firm’s reputation as a leader,” he says.
Of course, you don’t have to work on a team focused on ESG to experience this at BlackRock. The firm’s constant growth leads to an abundance of opportunities for all types of individuals. When you work on exciting, successful projects at BlackRock, it’s only natural that your career advances alongside them.
Alexis, who went from being an intern in 2010 to becoming the Chief Corporate Sustainability Officer last year, explained it through her own experience:
The firm’s commitment to professional development is something that drew me to BlackRock and has definitely held true in practice. I stay for everything from the smart and talented people I get to work with every day, to the great mentors and sponsors who have guided me through different roles, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm, which means every day is something new and challenging.
Alexis, Chief Corporate Sustainability Officer, started as an intern in 2010
Interested in a different kind of FinTech or investment career? Check out open opportunities at BlackRock on WayUp! More