This content is from: Corner Office

BlackRock Fires Mark Wiseman for Failing to Disclose Romantic Relationship With Colleague

Mark Wiseman, widely seen as potential successor to Larry Fink, was dismissed for violating the company's policy on relationships at work.

BlackRock has terminated Mark Wiseman, global head of active equities and chairman of the firm’s alternatives business, for failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a colleague.

Wiseman, who was a serious contender to someday succeed Fink, headed strategy for alternatives, one of BlackRock’s top priorities. Wiseman had joined BlackRock in 2016 after heading the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. 

“I am leaving BlackRock because in recent months I engaged in a consensual relationship with one of our colleagues without reporting it as required by BlackRock’s Relationships at Work Policy,” wrote Wiseman in an email to some of his BlackRock colleagues. “I regret my mistake and I accept responsibility for my actions.”

In a memo sent Thursday to all employees, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, and Rob Kapito, BlackRock’s president, condemned those actions.

“Our culture has always been one of BlackRock’s greatest strengths, and it is deeply disappointing that two senior executives have departed the firm in the same year because of their personal conduct,” they wrote. “This is not who BlackRock is. This is not our culture. We expect every employee to uphold the highest standards of behavior. This is especially critical for our senior leaders.”  

According to a person familiar with the situation, the other employee Fink refers to in the memo is Jeff Smith, former global head of human resources, who left in July for violating company policy.

A BlackRock employee alerted management to Wiseman’s relationship with a colleague, according to the person. Wiseman is married to Marcia Moffat, who is head of BlackRock’s Canada business.

“We are fortunate that we have an organization in which colleagues recognize the importance of protecting our culture and speaking up when they are aware of violations of company policy. When the firm becomes aware of a breach of policy or conduct that is not in line with our values, we move quickly and decisively to address it,” wrote Fink and Kapito.

Wiseman was one of a handful of potential successors, including Mark Wiedman, head of international and corporate strategy, and Robert Goldstein, chief operating officer and global head of BlackRock Solutions, and the executive closest to the firm’s technology. 

[II Deep Dive: The Race to Replace Larry Fink]

Wiseman’s direct reports in the active equity business will report to Kapito while the firm considers new leadership, according to the memo. 

Wiseman didn’t have a day-to-day operating role in BlackRock Alternative Investors. Edwin Conway, the global head of BAI, and Jim Barry, the chief investment officer of BAI, will continue in their roles in the division. 

Memo to all employees from Larry Fink, BlackRock’s Chairman and CEO, and Rob Kapito, BlackRock’s President

Dear Colleagues,

After joining BlackRock three years ago, Global Head of Active Equities Mark Wiseman is leaving the firm following a violation of the company’s Relationships at Work Policy. This issue had no impact on any portfolios or client activities.

Our culture has always been one of BlackRock’s greatest strengths, and it is deeply disappointing that two senior executives have departed the firm in the same year because of their personal conduct. This is not who BlackRock is. This is not our culture. We expect every employee to uphold the highest standards of behavior. This is especially critical for our senior leaders.

We are fortunate that we have an organization in which colleagues recognize the importance of protecting our culture and speaking up when they are aware of violations of company policy. When the firm becomes aware of a breach of policy or conduct that is not in line with our values, we move quickly and decisively to address it. Acting with such purpose is critical to reinforcing our culture.

Over the past several years, we have made considerable progress strengthening our Active Equities franchise, and we are well positioned to continue this momentum to deliver strong performance and capture client demand. Our investments in industry-leading in-house research capabilities, data, and technology are reflected in the strong long-term performance with 85% of Fundamental Active Equity AUM and 90% of Systematic Active Equity AUM above benchmark or peer median over a five-year period, as of the third quarter. The leaders of the Active Equity teams who previously reported to Mark will report to Rob as we assess the best leadership structure to continue to drive the business forward.

There are no changes in our alternatives business, where Mark served as Chairman. Edwin Conway, the Global Head of BAI, and Jim Barry, the Chief Investment Officer of BAI, are providing strong day-to-day leadership and will continue to do so. They oversee all aspects of the business, and Edwin will continue to report to Rob. BAI continues to deliver strong performance, and we’re on track for another year of record flows.

We want to thank the leaders of all our active equities and alternatives teams for the tremendous momentum they have created in these areas. We also want to thank everyone across the firm for the commitment and conviction you demonstrate every day in serving BlackRock’s purpose and living our principles. You represent the best of BlackRock’s culture, and we have never been prouder of the work you do.

Larry and Rob

Wiseman Internal Memo

It has been a tremendous honor to work with all of you as we have sought to redefine the future of active management across both public equities and private markets.

I am leaving BlackRock because in recent months I engaged in a consensual relationship with one of our colleagues without reporting it as required by BlackRock’s Relationships at Work Policy. I regret my mistake and I accept responsibility for my actions.

I leave the firm feeling incredibly proud of what we accomplished in such a short time. I have the greatest respect for BlackRock and am confident that you all will continue to deliver excellence to our clients and redefine the future of our industry.

What’s more, I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure an orderly transition.

In closing, let me express my sincere thanks to each of you for the commitment you have shown to BlackRock and the friendship you have shown to me.

Sincerely,

Mark

Related Content