It's no secret that the asset management industry is going through some tough times, with many active managers reeling from fee pressure and the rise of index-trackers. But, right now, buy-side professionals want to work for the biggest players in the sector.
BlackRock is the largest asset management firm in the world – it manages more than $6 trillion including its iShares business. It is also the most sought-after employer, according to our new 2018 Ideal Employer Rankings which surveyed over 6,000 financial services professionals globally.
After BlackRock, Fidelity Investments is the second most popular asset management firm in the world to work for, according to our survey, for the third year in a row. Fidelity has a vast presence across the U.S., a wide range of mutual funds and other business lines such as retirement services, discount brokerage services and wealth management.
Those two behemoths are followed by Pimco, whose performance and reputation have rebounded impressively after initially struggling after Bill Gross let in 2014.
Then comes London-based Schroders, which manages approximately $600bn (£447bn) and has more than 4,500 employees worldwide.
Rounding off the top five asset managers our respondents want to work for is Vanguard, the world's second largest asset manager by assets and one of the most aggressive competitors in terms of fees.
Our survey suggests the people who want to work for BlackRock value the firm for its high pay, for its financial performance, for its challenging and interesting work, for its financial strength, and for the fact that it is perceived to be a leader in the industry.
In our most recent survey, 72% of respondents who wanted to work for BlackRock believe that it offers a competitive salary compared to 78% the previous year. Still, that figure beats Fidelity's percentage of 68% – and in the competitive bonus category, it was 64% versus Fidelity's 54%. In addition, 82% perceive BlackRock as a leader in the industry compared to 68% for Fidelity. Pimco, however, was perceived as the best payer last year: 78% said Pimco offers a competitive salary and 73% said Pimco offers a competitive bonus. However, Pimco was perceived as less financially strong than Blackrock and (maybe wrongly) as less of an industry leader than Fidelity.
BlackRock's average compensation rose from $298k in 2016 to $306k last year. In the first quarter of 2018, BlackRock grew its comp pool by roughly $100 million, buoyed by a 16% uptick in year-over-year revenue and headcount growth. Like many other buy-side and sell-side firms, BlackRock appears to be concentrating much of its recruiting efforts in technology. It is building a new campus in Palo Alto, California specifically dedicated to artificial intelligence and is staffing up a new ‘integration group’, known as ‘Middleware,’ which it plans to grow from roughly a dozen as of March to around 30 by the end of the year.
The firm said it hired 390 analysts as part of its 2017 class, 53% of whom are women. BlackRock’s push for diversity has extended outside of its walls, however. In February, the asset manager sent letters to all Russell 1000 companies with fewer than two female directors in an effort to push them to increase diversity on their boards. It also added language to its proxy voting guidelines, noting that it expects companies to have at least two women on their board of directors.
View the complete 2018 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer Rankings
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