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BlackRock Co-Founder to Step Down

Barbara Novick, the face of BlackRock in Washington, D.C., will relinquish her day-to-day management duties.

Barbara Novick, one of eight BlackRock’s co-founders, will retire. Novick, vice chairman who built the firm’s presence in Washington after the financial crisis, plans to stay in her current role as she helps transition her responsibilities to successors. After that, she will be a senior advisor to BlackRock, which now has $7.4 trillion in assets under management.

In a memo to employees on Wednesday, CEO Larry Fink and president Rob Kapito said Novick is moving out of day-to-day management as much of her work on government policy and regulations is essentially complete. The 59-year-old also wants to spend more time with family after 32 years at BlackRock, the letter said.  

“Our public policy and stewardship efforts are at an inflection point. Much of the post-financial crisis policy work that Barbara led is largely implemented, and she has greatly enhanced our stewardship practices, including our commitment to transparency. Additionally, having recently welcomed a first grandchild, Barbara wants to spend more time with her growing family and have more flexibility in the next chapter of her life,” wrote Fink and Kapito in the memo.

Fink and Kapito, who previously worked with Novick at First Boston, lauded her work leading BlackRock’s global client group for the firm’s first two decades.

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After the financial crisis, Novick took on a more public role.

“Having taken a short break in 2009 to care for her ailing parents, Barbara returned, at Larry’s urging, to create and lead a new public policy group. In 2009, our business model was changing due to the BGI acquisition, and we knew there would be substantial reform to the capital markets from post-crisis regulation. This was a pivotal moment for the firm, and we knew that Barbara’s command of the issues and her commitment to protecting investors would be vital to the firm’s success,” they said.

Novick, one of the highest profile women in the financial industry, also oversees engagement with public companies. As one of the largest institutional investors, BlackRock has been closely watched when it comes to its stance on governance. She’s also credited with helping BlackRock avoid getting pinned by regulators as a systemically important financial institution, or SIFI, after the 2008 crisis. The SIFI label would have put the firm in regulators’ crosshairs. 

Kapito and Fink said Novick will help transition her public policy and investment stewardship work. BlackRock will look for successors both internally and externally.

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