The Key to Managing $4 Trillion at BlackRock

How do you track trillions of dollars in indexes and exchange-traded funds accurately and precisely? That is one part of the financial engineering challenges facing BlackRock Inc. Senior Managing Director Salim Ramji, head of iShares index and ETF investing. His division manages more than $4 trillion of Blackrock’s in excess of $7 trillion in assets. He is also a member of the firm’s global executive committee.

Ramji recalls how as a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. leading the firm’s asset and wealth management practice, he turned down a job offer from BlackRock Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink. This led to an amusing anecdote about the back and forth that soon followed that “idiotic” decision. Not long after, Ramji rethought his decision and joined BlackRock as global head of corporate strategy, and then went on to run the firm’s U.S. wealth advisory business.

We also discuss fee wars, the rise of ETFs, ESG, factor investing, active ETFs and why a Bitcoin ETF is unlikely to occur anytime soon - at least at BlackRock.

A list of his favorite books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesSpotifyOvercastGoogleBloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Fidelity‘s Will Danoff, who manages the firm’s storied Contrafund. Over 30 years of running Contra, Danoff has outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 3.21 percentage points a year.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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