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‘It's Not My Money’: CEO Fink Explains Why BlackRock Still Invests in Fossil Fuels

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Don’t expect BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager led by a CEO renowned for his warnings about climate change and a short-term investing approach to divest itself of fossil fuel stocks, gunmakers or private prison companies.

CEO Larry Fink, in an interview at Morningstar’s virtual annual conference, said the firm will not eliminate companies from the many indexes that underlie its passive ETFs.

“It’s not my money,” Fink said.

BlackRock can work with those companies who design its indexes and customize them on behalf of its clients, but it’s not the firm’s “fiduciary responsibility” to remove companies from all the indexes it uses for products.

“Our job as a fiduciary is to follow what our clients want,” said Fink, noting that the firm has index products that exclude certain sectors as well as those that don’t and more sustainable products than any other asset managers today. 

Referring to his 2020 annual letter to CEOs calling climate risk an investment risk, Fink said, “I’m an environmentalist. I wrote my letter as a capitalist.”

He said the environmentalists who have been protesting BlackRock’s investments in fossil fuel companies “need to go to the money owners and talk to them and have them change.” 

Fink said the firm, which has over $7 trillion in assets under management, has seen record inflows into its sustainability products this year — more inflows in the first half of this year than in all of 2019. More than 5,600 of its active portfolios have fully integrated ESG into their management, and 100% will do so by the end of this year.

Asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company he leads, Fink said one of the biggest revelations was the ability for workers to work remotely. He doesn’t expect that all of the company’s 16,000-plus employees will eventually be returning to the office; maybe just  60% or 70% will return, possibly in rotation, he said..

“We won’t be the same operational firm we were before COVID,” he said, “but we will be a better firm for this.”