Microsoft, the largest company in the world by market cap, and BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, are planning to develop a technology platform that helps people save and invest for retirement.
According to a press release from BlackRock, the firm “intends to offer the platform in connection with next generation investment products that it will design and manage,” and it will be “made available to U.S. workers through their employers’ workplace savings plan.”
Users would be able to have “more regular engagement with their retirement assets so they they have a clearer picture of how their contributions today will translate to long-term retirement income,” which should lead to more savings and better investing habits, according to BlackRock.
“Retirement systems worldwide are under stress and providing financial security to retirees has become one of the most defining societal challenges of our time,” said BlackRock Chairman and CEO Laurence D. Fink, in a statement. “Working with Microsoft will enable us to build a powerful solution for millions of hardworking Americans.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the two firms “will apply the power of the cloud and AI to introduce new solutions that address this important challenge and reimagine retirement planning.”
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story about the new partnership, explained its benefits for the two firms: BlackRock would expand its ecosystem into managing employees’ retirement funds and Microsoft would attract new revenues as it becomes a bigger player in the cloud computing space.
The Journal reported that BlackRock aims for the platform to include target date-like funds and other investments like annuities to provide guaranteed income streams as plan participants grow older. That potentially could help keep participants in their 401(k) plans even after they retire, rather than having the plan assets roll over into an IRA.
BlackRock would not provide any more details about its plans other than what was included in their press release and in the Wall Street Journal story.
The firm has been steadily making inroads into fintech business. In 2015, it acquired robo-advisor FutureAdvisor, which has been operating as a platform for use by banks, wealth managers and advisory firms.
This year, it acquired a nearly 5% interest in Envestnet, which provides technology solutions for financial advisors, as part of a strategic relationship, and it invested in Acorns, an app that invests consumers’ spare change, as an “anchor investor.”
Earlier this week Blackrock’s iRetire platform, which helps financial advisors work with clients on retirement planning and investing, became a new integration partner of eMoney Advisor. The firm’s Digital Wealth business includes iRetire, FutureAdvisor and Aladdin, Blackrock’s risk analysis tool.
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