BlackRock, Microsoft partner to develop retirement platform

Details are vague, but the partnership continues BlackRock's expansion into the technology market

Dec 14, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

BlackRock is partnering with Microsoft to develop a next-generation retirement platform, continuing the asset manager's push into technology.

The companies are exploring how a combination of BlackRock's investment products and Microsoft's technology can help people develop better saving and investing habits, and how to spend assets in retirement.

Details of what such a platform would look like were kept vague in the announcement, but it will be offered by BlackRock along with "next-generation investment products" designed and managed by the firm. The new investment products will try to provide for all retirement income needs and will be available through workplace savings plans.

In a prepared statement, BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted how the end of pensions and increasing life-spans have left millions of Americans struggling to save enough for retirement.

"Retirement systems worldwide are under stress and providing financial security to retirees has become one of the most defining societal challenges of our time," Mr. Fink said in the statement. "BlackRock has a tremendous responsibility to help solve this challenge, and we recognize the need to act now."

BlackRock declined to comment beyond the press release.

Increasing its footprint in the technology market has been a major initiative for BlackRock throughout 2018.

The firm pushed its digital advice platform, Future Advisor, to regional banks and independent broker/dealers through a partnership with LPL Financial. In March, BlackRock launched a new series of ETFs that are managed by algorithms.

BlackRock's Aladdin risk-analytics software plays a central role in Morgan Stanley's next-generation technology dashboard for advisers. It's also made investments in Acorns, a retail-facing robo-adviser known for micro-investing, and iCapital, a technology platform for helping advisers access alternative investments.

Most recently, BlackRock bought a 5% equity stake in Envestnet and integrated its retirement income calculator with eMoney Advisor.

In November, global head of BlackRock Digital Wealth Venu Krishnamurthy told InvestmentNews the company wants to make BlackRock technology ubiquitous to advisers.

A partnership with Microsoft shows the company has ambitions for the retail market as well.

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