Low Interest Rates ‘Harmful’ to Insurers & Pension Funds: BlackRock CEO

By Ashley Lau | May 28, 2015

Lowering interest rates around the world to boost the global economy has reached a point where it is now “quite harmful” to clients, including pension funds and insurers, BlackRock Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Laurence Fink said.

The “low rate environment is having a profound impact on how they’re going to operate,” Fink said at the Annual Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference on Wednesday. He said that clients such as pension funds and insurance companies are “having more structural problems than ever before” in meeting their growing liability burdens without sufficiently yielding assets.

New York-based BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager, with $4.8 trillion in total assets under management at the end of March. The company’s clients include a range of retail and institutional investors around the globe.

Fink’s remarks echoed comments he made last month in his chairman’s letter, in which he addressed concerns about yield-starved investors turning to lower-rated credits and longer-duration assets to attempt to meet future liabilities.

“Not only is this driving prices ever higher in certain asset categories, but it is also contributing to greater portfolio concentration in more volatile areas of the market than historical norms,” he wrote.

During his morning remarks at the Bernstein conference, Fink addressed a range of issues impacting the investment community and industry, from the growing need to address capital market liquidity to how technology is changing the way asset managers interact with clients.

“I think the industry is going through some dramatic changes,” Fink said. “I see huge upside for our industry too, but it’s not going to be how we’re accustomed to it.” (Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Meredith Mazzilli)

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