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The world’s largest money management firm, with more than $9 trillion under assets, stands to profit from a government adoption of new environmental and social governance standards, FOX Business has learned.
BlackRock has been forging a new path into so-called Environmental Social Governance, or ESG investing, nearly tripling its ESG offerings in the past year. The company now offers more than 60 mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETF) that adhere to ESG standards – more than any other firm on Wall Street – and manages more than $30 billion in ESG client money.
ESG is a measure of a company’s adherence to social and environmental factors. Socially conscious investors, such as BlackRock, use the ESG criteria to screen for potential investments.
A newly proposed rule by the Labor Department that could force U.S. companies to offer ESG funds into their employees’ 401K plans has promising implications for BlackRock. If the rule were to pass, workers and businesses would become more heavily involved in ESG investing and BlackRock as the industry leader for ESG ETFs would profit.
What’s more, investing in ESG funds, including BlackRock’s exchange traded funds, carry management fees as much as 40% higher than regular ETFs.
Investors have recognized that BlackRock's big ESG push, one of the top priorities of its CEO Larry Fink, will add to its bottom line. Fink has warned companies that BlackRock invests in to either adopt ESG standards or face pressure from the big money manager in so-called proxy battles where investors vote on corporate governance matters.
As more companies have been bending to ESG edicts, shares of BlackRock have risen 55% over the past year, compared to a 39% increase in the Standard & Poor’s index.
The likelihood of the 401K rule passing is unclear, but BlackRock has close ties within the Biden administration and that could help push the move through the necessary channels.
Brian Deese, Biden’s national economic council chief, was formerly global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock. Deese also has as much as $100,000 in each of seven BlackRock ETFs and in 2020 received a $2.3 million salary from the company and earned a further $2.4 million from his vested restricted shares in the company.
Deese also has a 401K account with BlackRock, according to his financial disclosures that were updated in March of 2021.
Wally Adeyemo holds the position of deputy Treasury Secretary but was Fink’s chief of staff and a senior adviser at the firm before joining the administration. Adeyemo holds between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of company stock according to his 2020 financial disclosures and his close ties to Fink and the company could help title the scales in favor ESG implementation, lobbyists tell FOX Business.
Other BlackRock alum serving in the Biden administration is Michael Pyle, BlackRock’s former global chief investment strategist who is now serving as chief economic adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris. Pyle also worked in the Obama administration as a special assistant to the president on economic policy matters.
Tom Donilon is chairman of the BlackRock Investment Institute and held previous positions in the Obama, Clinton and Carter administrations. His brother, Mike Donilon, is Biden’s senior adviser and was also the chief strategist on his campaign.
BlackRock did not return calls for comment. A White House spokesman didn’t return calls for comment regarding Deese and Adeyemo.
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