BlackRock hires longtime Goldman executive in a top strategy role to help drive growth in its $276 billion alternatives business (BLK)

  • BlackRock has named Stephanie Smith as chief operating officer of the alternatives business.
  • The firm said in a memo that Smith, a longtime Goldman leader, will join this summer.
  • BlackRock has been investing in its alternatives unit, which oversees $276 billion in assets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

BlackRock has hired Stephanie Smith, who spent two decades at Goldman Sachs and rose to its elite partner ranks, as the chief operating officer of its alternatives business starting this summer, the firm told employees on Thursday.

Smith, most recently the head of operations for Goldman’s consumer and wealth management division, will help oversee and set strategy and direction for BlackRock Alternative Investors — a key area the firm has been investing in.

The unit oversaw $276 billion in assets as of the end of December. While it’s a slice of BlackRock’s overall $8.7 trillion, as a stand-alone business it would be among the largest pure alternatives managers in the world.

Smith held other senior leadership roles at Goldman in her 21 years there, including head of Asia Pacific operations, said Edwin Conway, the global head of BlackRock Alternative Investors, on Thursday in an internal memo seen by Insider.

Smith is expected to report to Conway and be based in New York, where the firm is headquartered. A spokesperson for Goldman declined to comment.

Smith is replacing Todd Slattery, who has been the chief operating officer of the alternatives business since 2015. Slattery is shifting to the role of platform specialist in BlackRock Alternative Specialists, a group within BAI that leads sales and consulting on alternative investment products with clients. He is expected to report to David Lomas, the global head.

“The office of the COO is where we crystallize our strategy and how we execute day-to-day and in the longer term,” Conway said in the Thursday memo, adding that the role also encompasses coordinating on talent development.

BlackRock has said it’s hiring talent to boost its alternatives business, which handles investments such as real estate, infrastructure, hedge funds, private equity, and credit. The firm is set to report the results of its first-quarter earnings next week.

“Private markets in particular are becoming a critical component for alpha,” Larry Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive, said in his annual letter to shareholders, which was published on Wednesday. He added, “More and more clients I speak with are looking to increase their allocations to illiquid alternatives for the yield and uncorrelated returns they offer.”

The asset manager had “tried and failed to recruit her about five years earlier,” said a report last month from The New York Times, which first reported that Smith would leave for BlackRock but did not specify her new position.

At Goldman, Smith had been “one of just five Black female partners at the firm,” The Times said in its report last month. She is now joining BlackRock at a moment when the asset manager is facing pressure to improve its own diversity and inclusion policies, which it has vowed to do through a set of goals it recently outlined for employees.

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