Larry Fink isn’t going anywhere.
The chief executive officer of BlackRock is too busy trying to solve America’s retirement crisis and turn the world’s largest asset manager into a technology company, among other priorities.
But the 66-year-old is planning for his successor, and a major promotion announced last week fueled speculation about his eventual successor. In a memo, Fink hinted at more personnel changes to come, which sources say includes further executive shuffling beyond the 500 staff BlackRock said on Thursday it would lay off.
BlackRock insiders identified six men who could eventually replace Fink.
Besides common names – three Mark’s and two Rob’s, with one Rich as the outlier – the men share longtime tenure at the firm. They’ve led the firm’s highest growth areas, including exchange-traded-funds and technology, and all sit on BlackRock’s global executive committee.
A spokesperson for BlackRock declined to comment on succession planning. One industry insider cautioned that the list could change over the years, as executives may tire of waiting for their chance to be considered CEO and look elsewhere for leadership opportunities.
In a 2016 memo about leadership changes at the time, Fink and president Rob Kapito wrote “We regularly review, with the Board, leadership and succession planning for all of our businesses and seek to ensure we are developing leaders with broad experience across the entire firm.”
As Wall Street has grappled with how to replace founders and longtime leaders, having multiple options is not uncommon. Blackstone, for example, elevated former real estate head Jon Gray to president last year after grooming multiple leaders to run the world’s largest private equity firm. Goldman Sachs had two co-presidents under CEO Lloyd Blankfein, before one retired this spring, leaving David Solomon to replace Blankfein this fall.
Here’s who could replace Fink:
Mark Wiedman, head of international and of corporate strategy
Wiedman, 47, moved up last week from head of the firm’s wildly successful exchange-traded-funds and index investing businesses iShares to an even more visible role that reports to Fink directly.
In his new role, Wiedman will focus on “high-growth markets” in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. He’ll also oversee marketing, which is led by former BuzzFeed chief marketing officer Frank Cooper, who will report to both Wiedman and Fink.
Wiedman has overseen explosive growth in ETF platform iShares, which saw a record $44 billion in new money in December. He left a previous role overseeing corporate strategy in 2011 to lead iShares, which has since expanded its assets by 14.8% annually on average.
He joined BlackRock in 2004 to help start what became the Financial Markets Advisory Group, advising financial institutions and central banks on capital markets exposures.
Before BlackRock, he was senior advisor for the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the US Treasury, and a management consultant at McKinsey.
Mark Wisemen, global head of active equities; chairman of alternatives
Wisemen, 47, also chairs the firm’s global investment committee. He’s the most recent entrant of the bunch, joining BlackRock in 2016 with the critical perspective of a longtime institutional investor.
Before BlackRock, Wisemen was president and CEO of the $368 billion Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board since 2012, where he worked in investments since 2005. Previously, he worked at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Earlier in his career, he had private markets experience as an officer at a Canadian merchant bank, and as a lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell in both New York and Paris.
In addition to his leadership in active equities, Wisemen is helping BlackRock tap into the explosive growth of the alternatives industry, with platforms including real assets, hedge funds, and private credit. The strategies produce higher fees than passively-managed investments and capture capital that’s locked up for longer. Fink has called the $140 billion alternatives business “a strategic growth priority.”
Mark McCombe, head of Americas
McCombe, 51, has hopped around the world’s financial centers in his career. He has worked out of the firm’s San Francisco office since 2017, as part of his remit to expand the Americas business outside of New York since he became Americas head that year. While other regions are growth focuses, the Americas continues to constitute the vast majority – 67% – of the firm’s assets under management, according to third-quarter earnings.
McCombe joined BlackRock in 2011 to lead Asia Pacific, and has also served as chair and global head of BlackRock Alternative Investors, as well as global head of the institutional client business.
Before BlackRock, he spent more than 20 years with HSBC in global roles ranging from CEO of the bank’s asset management division in London to CEO of its Hong Kong business.
Rob Kapito, co-founder, president
Kapito, 61, met Fink years ago working at investment bank First Boston. He left in 1988 to join a group founding what would become BlackRock and now focuses on the day-to-day operations.
Kapito became president in 2007, a role that includes oversight of the firm’s key business platforms, including investment strategies, client businesses, technology and operations, and risk and quantitative analysis. He’s also a director of iShares and chairman of the firm’s global operating committee.
Before he was president, Kapito was head of the firm’s portfolio management business, overseeing groups including fixed income, equity, liquidity, and alternatives.
Rob Goldstein, chief operating officer, global head of BlackRock Solutions
Goldstein, 44, has long been a rising star at BlackRock. He started at the firm in 1994 as an analyst in the portfolio analytics group and later worked as a risk advisor to mortgage and insurance clients.
Kapito also led the firm’s institutional client business, then took over as COO in 2014.
As COO, he helps oversee day-to-day global business. He also leads the BlackRock Solutions business, underpinned by the wildly successful Aladdin operating system. That investment platform is used by over a 200 institutional investors, such as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and touches $18 trillion of assets – and, showing its commitment, BlackRock is the biggest user. Though technology services makes up just 6% of the firm’s revenue, which is largely dependent on fees paid for assets under management, the segment jumped 18% year-on-year for the third quarter, to $200 million.
Rich Kushel, head of multi-asset strategies and global fixed income
Kushel, 51, can fly under the radar – he prefers to stay out of the public view – but the BlackRock veteran should not be dismissed as a Fink successor, insiders said. In his current role, Kushel oversees $2.4 trillion, according to the firm’s third-quarter earnings.
Kushel joined BlackRock in 1991, and his responsibilities since then have included running alternatives and wealth management. In 2009 and 2010, he moved to London to chair the firm’s international businesses, and from 2010 to 2012, he led the BlackRock’s portfolio management group.
Before his current role, he was the chief product officer and head of groups for strategic product management and stewardship, as well as for the BlackRock Investment Institute.