BlackRock plans to dismiss some 500 workers as the asset management company seeks to contend with heavy losses.
The company’s assets under management declined from $9.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2021 to $8.0 trillion in the third quarter of 2022, according to the firm’s most recent earnings report. The reduction in headcount, which represents less than 3% of the BlackRock workforce, occurs after one of the worst years for the stock market in history and similar layoffs in other industries.
“Taking a targeted and disciplined approach to how we shape our teams, we will adapt our workforce to align even more closely with our strategic priorities and create opportunities for the immense talent inside the firm to develop and prosper,” BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink and President Rob Kapito wrote in a message to employees seen by Business Insider. A source told the outlet that managers were recently told to gather lists of employees who could be selected for layoffs.
The mass layoffs, which are the first for the company since 2019, follow a slowdown in hiring that took effect at BlackRock. The firm paused most hirings at the end of last year.
BlackRock saw a 21% year-over-year decrease in operating income and a 15% year-over-year decrease in revenue as of the third quarter. Bloomberg analyst Marc Rubenstein commented in a report that the asset management company set the record for the largest sum ever lost by a single firm over six months.
“The first half of 2022 brought an investment environment that we have not seen in decades,” Fink said in a second-quarter earnings report. “Investors are simultaneously navigating high inflation, rising rates, and the worst start to the year for both stocks and bonds in half a century.”
The losses come amid BlackRock executives’ promulgation of the environmental, social, and corporate governance movement, also known as ESG, by which managers commit themselves to pursue green energy, appointing minorities to serve as managers, or otherwise blending profitability with activism. BlackRock has taken “voting action on climate issues” against dozens of portfolio firms, according to a company stewardship report.
Critics say the recent poor performance of ESG funds discredits the movement.
“This is just the beginning. As more and more clients, including state pension funds, realize that BlackRock has been misusing the assets entrusted to them to push a radical political agenda, the more the company will suffer,” Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hild said about the BlackRock dismissals in remarks provided to The Daily Wire.
Several state governments divested some $12 billion from BlackRock last year, representing a fraction of the company’s total assets. ESG investments have suffered over the past year as technology stocks, which score highly in ESG ratings due to the underlying companies’ involvement in social issues, fall behind outsized profitability from energy stocks, which rank poorly due to worries regarding carbon emissions.
Technology companies dismissed more than 90,000 workers last year, according to a report from CrunchBase, which included both small ventures and established firms such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Tesla. Some investors have criticized technology companies for rapidly expanding payrolls, calling for a reduction in headcount to match dismal market forecasts.