When I was younger, I didn’t get it — or at least I didn’t feel like I did. But without even knowing it, I was quietly absorbing these lessons from my parents on a daily basis. I started saving at a young age, earning money helping my father out at the shoe store. I bought my first stock, DuPont, when I was 13 years old. I continued to work, save and invest all throughout high school, college and grad school. And with each year, I grew to understand the power of investing in the markets. Looking back, the lessons are as powerful as ever. If my father had put $1,000 in a bank account in 1952, the year I was born, it would be worth around $20,000 today. But he knew there was a better way to build for the future. Like millions of other working Americans, he became an investor. That same $1,000, invested instead in the S&P 500, would be worth about $800,000 today.
By the time I moved to New York to work in finance, I realized how grateful I was to my father — and how lucky I was that he taught me such vital lessons about the importance of investing and about preparing for the future. He taught me that investing isn’t just about tomorrow — it’s about decades of tomorrows.
Reflecting on 2017, it is easy to get wrapped up in the remarkable performance of markets. A lot of people made a lot of money. But much more importantly: a lot of people didn’t. And that’s not because they weren’t savvy enough to invest in the “right things” — it’s because they were not invested at all.
Around the world, savers are struggling with low interest rates as well as obstacles to better investing behaviors. A culture of short-term focus in markets and the media — an obsession with second-by-second movements and prices — drives fear and discourages smart investing. Talking heads may sweat with excitement at each record market close, but
one day or even one year of growth doesn’t build a future.
And so even as equity indices tick higher, too many individuals aren’t enjoying the benefits. And that disconnect is driving significant anger, frustration and fear around the world.
BlackRock has a tremendous responsibility to help solve this challenge. We need to use our role as a fiduciary, our expertise in investing, markets and technology, our knowledge of and ability to empathize with investors’ needs—to drive action. And one of those ways is to fulfill our purpose: to help more and more people experience well-being through the creation of wealth — to promote a system that helps more people participate in financial markets and build more secure futures. We are in a position to achieve these goals by using technology to drive better investing behaviors; by developing new investment solutions, and by advocating for better, stronger retirement systems. As an investor, advisor, and innovator, I believe we have a vital role to play in society.
We constantly strive to put ourselves in the shoes of our diverse group of clients — to understand their priorities so that we can serve them more effectively. Clients with different backgrounds, levels of wealth, time horizons, life goals. We have to empathize with clients — no matter who or where they are. We must be Japanese in Japan, Mexican in Mexico, and American in the US, because if we are going to fulfill our social purpose around the world, we must respond to the unique needs and objectives of each client in their home market.
Wherever we operate, we must deliver performance for our clients. That’s why in 2017 — and over the past 30 years — we have constantly evolved our platform and approach to deliver on our commitment to our clients — to achieve the expectations they have of us. Today we are better prepared to meet our clients’ needs than ever before: The incredible cross-fertilization of investment ideas led by the BlackRock Investment Institute. The deeper integration of data science and artificial intelligence across investment processes. And strategies that help investors achieve their objectives in a low-return world, such as infrastructure investments or the new long-term private capital vehicle we are developing. We work every day to bring clients the performance they demand and deserve.
Our capacity to deliver this performance — to embrace technological change, constantly improve our organization, and deepen our relationships with our clients — is rooted in our deep commitment to our principles as a firm. As BlackRock celebrates its 30th anniversary, we’ve all had a chance to reflect on what has driven our success—and what will continue to play a role over the next year, the next five years, and the next 30 years.
I believe that the single most important driver of BlackRock’s success has been our unwavering commitment to our principles: our fiduciary commitment to our clients, our commitment to performance and innovation, and our One BlackRock approach to everything we do.