30 March 2020
BlackRock scooped the Investor of the Year award from the judges, following a period of rising activity in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) space by the largest investor in the world.
One of the judges said that BlackRock – which has over $7.4 trillion in assets under management (AUM) – is a "very important and thoughtful green bond investor" that was "not afraid to think independently and challenge."
After years of criticism from ESG campaigners, New York-listed BlackRock opened 2020 with a string of announcements intending to indicate that the asset manager was getting serious about ESG – although some commentators continued to call on the firm to go further.
In January, BlackRock joined the Climate Action 100+ initiative and then pledged to make sustainability its "new standard of investing" amid sweeping changes to its investing practices. These changes include reducing exposure to thermal coal firms and doubling its ESG fund offering to 150 products over the "next few years".
In a November paper – Sustainability: the bond that endures – the company stressed the importance of fixed income investments in the ESG space and highlighted how ESG bond indexes enable investors to create sustainable multi-asset portfolios.
Currently, BlackRock offers 25 sustainable fixed income and money market funds across its index, active and alternative strategies.
In 2019, BlackRock's iShares Green Bond Index Fund saw its AUM surge six-fold to €1.27 billion ($1.4 billion), up from €204.8 million at the end of 2018. This made it one of only a handful of green bond funds with over $1 billion in AUM at the end of 2019, according to research conducted by Environmental Finance.
In giving BlackRock the investor of the year award, the judges predicted that "their best is yet to come."