It’s that time of year — not the holiday season but the “political silly season” — BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink wrote in a LinkedIn post Thursday about the Republican presidential debate that took place the night before.
What the candidates said about BlackRock wasn’t true, Fink wanted everyone to know.
“Last week, the Washington Post fact checker awarded Robert F. Kennedy Jr. four ‘Pinocchios’ for the misinformation he’s been peddling about BlackRock in his presidential campaign. Last night, candidates in the Republican primary debate earned a few more Pinocchios,” Fink wrote.
The candidates claimed that BlackRock has a tremendous, negative influence and that the world’s largest asset manager is deterring American energy companies from drilling for oil — and has an ideological agenda dictating its decision making, not the best interest of investors.
“Larry Fink, the king of the woke industrial complex, the ESG movement, the CEO of BlackRock, the most powerful company in the world, now supporting Nikki Haley,” Vivek Ramaswamy said in an intended attack on Haley during the most recent debate.
Fink refuted that in his post. He said BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies and recently announced a joint venture with one of the country’s largest energy companies to help develop new technology.
“The only agenda we have is delivering for our clients. We’ve been entrusted to manage more assets than any other company in our industry because we have a track record over more than thirty years of managing retirement savings, and we do so for 35 million Americans today. We’re proud of that record. We’re proud to be an American success story,” Fink wrote.
The executive noted that during the debate, BlackRock was mentioned by some candidates more than inflation or the national debt. “That’s a sad commentary on the state of American politics. But I remain an optimist that our political process will ultimately tackle some of the real issues facing the country like: how can we drive the sustained economic growth we need to deal with our ballooning national debt. Now more than ever, America needs fewer Pinocchios and more Honest Abes.”
Fink also made it clear in his post he has not endorsed any candidate.
“Despite multiple claims in the debate to the contrary, I haven’t endorsed any candidate for president this year. I’ve met with at least five of the candidates in this campaign cycle. I meet with policy makers all the time to understand the implications for our clients,” Fink said. “That’s my job.”
The backlash to the use of environmental, social, and governance factors when investing has faced its own backlash and the “anti-woke” campaigns are failing to have their desired impact on proxy voting. (Institutional investors expect their ESG-related investments to become more prevalent in portfolios.)
Fink has expressed regret for using the term “ESG” because of how politicized it has become and BlackRock has had trouble combating misinformation about the firm.
“BlackRock and Vanguard have both been popping up in various conspiracy theory type posts across social media. Truthfully, it was my first exposure to the company as a young person some number of years ago,” Connor Altizer, an MBA candidate at Florida International University, commented on Fink’s LinkedIn post.
“I think the reality is that the scope of what BlackRock does isn’t even in the peripheral vision of most Americans so you’re an easy target,” Altizer wrote.