Larry Fink just revealed how BlackRock is going to keep growing at its torrid pace: China

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BlackRock wants to dominate the asset management business in China like it has in the U.S.

The world’s largest asset manager, with $6 trillion under management, is aiming to become a leading player in China, which it thinks has the biggest growth opportunity in the industry in the next five years, BlackRock’s chief Larry Fink revealed in his annual letter to shareholders on Monday.

“In China, which is one of the largest future growth opportunities for BlackRock, we are focused on building an onshore presence,” Fink said. “Our goal is to become one of the country’s leading global asset managers.”

Despite the economic slowdown and the ongoing trade war, Fink still sees an “increasing demand” for “more diversified and long-term investment solutions” in China. Half of the asset growth over the next five years will come from Asia and largely China, Fink said in the letter.

BlackRock is “very engaged” with the Chinese regulators in the process of building a “majority-controlled” business, Fink told the Financial Times in a story on Monday.

“If anything the Chinese are looking for greater participation of global firms in their asset management space because they also have a growing retirement crisis,” he told FT.

The asset manager has recently become increasingly bullish on Chinese equity markets as the country plans to introduce a Nasdaq-style start-up board in Shanghai, pushing for new ways that private sector money can fund its domestic companies.

The push into China comes as BlackRock and other asset managers are working through major shifts in their business. BlackRock has seen a slowdown in profits amid the continuing fee war among money managers. Fourth-quarter revenue fell short of expectations and its assets under management dropped 5 percent, to $5.98 trillion, over the last 12 months.

“2018 was a difficult year for the asset management industry and a marker of things to come: greater focus on value, tougher competition, more operating complexity and disruption of legacy business models,” Fink said in the annual letter.

The New-York based firm is currently undergoing a large reorganization, shuffling the roles of about 20 directors and aiming to expand its alternative investments business.

In the annual letter, Fink also recognized that today’s investing style is focused too much on short-term goals and simply beating the benchmarks doesn’t fulfill long-term goals such as retirement.

“I believe that people are increasingly frustrated with the culture of investing and the structure of financial markets. There is a focus on speed and a lack of substance…But there is far too little conversation about long-term goals and outcomes,” Fink said.

— Read the Financial Times story here.

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