BlackRock to Give Customers More Weight on Corporate Responsibility

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The BlackRock logo is seen outside its offices in New York on January 18, 2012. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton / File Photo

  • About 40% of $ 4.8 billion stock index assets hedged
  • Customers can choose to vote directly at AGMs
  • More investors looking to hold boards to account

LONDON / BOSTON, Oct. 7 (Reuters) – BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, plans to give its clients more votes on voting at the company’s annual meetings, starting with a group holding nearly 2,000 billion dollars in assets.

The move by New York-based BlackRock (BLK.N) follows a wave of shareholder calls to hold the companies they invest in to account on issues ranging from climate change to diversity and how their workers and those of their suppliers are treated.

Starting next year, customers looking for more control will be able to vote under their own policy and submit their votes using their own infrastructure, BlackRock said in a letter to customers that was seen by Reuters. Others might choose to choose a third party voting policy and use BlackRock to submit the votes.

The choice would be offered to institutional clients in certain index strategies held in separately managed accounts and in certain mutual funds in Great Britain and the United States.

“These options are designed to allow you to have more of a say in proxy voting, if that is important to you,” he said, adding that the move was a response to “growing interest in investment management “among its clients. Read more

BlackRock’s letter said the move was the first in a series of steps to expand proxy voting options and followed several years of engagement with industry partners during which it had also developed new technology.

“It also reflects broader industry dynamics, such as the impact of technological advancements on investing – and with it, the possibility of more personalized approaches to your investments and the way you manage them,” a- he added.

Based on data as of the end of June, about 40% of the $ 4.8 trillion in assets held in BlackRock’s equity index strategies would be eligible to choose one of the options, he said, adding that the ambition was to widen the choice to more products.

Larger clients whose assets are held in a separately managed account will also have the ability to choose which resolutions or companies to vote on directly, using BlackRock to manage the process.

For those happy to stick with the existing process, BlackRock said its own investment management team will continue to vote by proxy on their behalf.

“While giving clients more choice in how proxies are voted, BlackRock Investment Stewardship (BIS) remains at the heart of BlackRock’s fiduciary approach,” the letter said.

Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Alexander Smith

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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