BlackRock is the world's largest asset management firm. Its business is investing significant sums of money belonging to governments, companies, and millions of individuals saving for retirement in order to help their clients secure a better financial future.
Graduates joining BlackRock are on a graduate programme for the first two to two-and-a-half years. Dependent on the business area, graduates are either hired directly into teams or on a rotation. To get an insight into the lives of graduates at the firm, we asked two recent joiners to share the details of their daily activities with us.
Aladdin Client Services
Louis studied computer science and business at Queen Mary University and is currently working in Aladdin Client Services. Aladdin is a risk and portfolio management system used across BlackRock as well as by external clients who purchase the system from the firm. As a member of the client services team, Louis is responsible for liaising with clients using the system and offering help, advice, and training when required.
I get in the office around 7.45am and usually catch up on overnight activity from colleagues in other regions to see what's changed from the previous day. At about 8am I'll start work, checking my emails, and replying to clients. Later in the morning, I'll typically have meetings with BlackRock relationship managers, where we assess how clients are using Aladdin and where there are potential areas to add new and innovative solutions to help our clients.
Once a month my team have a video conference with our Asian offices in Tokyo, Singapore and Mumbai as well as Edinburgh. The meeting helps keep everybody aware of what's going on within client services and up to date on any new developments and trends. Aladdin is a global platform so it's important we're all in sync.
Most of my afternoon consists of speaking to clients and responding to their emails and calls. I also try to fit in some research work when possible. In our team, each person is a designated expert in a particular subject matter and they become the go-to contact regarding that subject.
My area of subject matter expertise is in trading and portfolio management tools so it's important I have time for research to keep myself up-to-date and build documentation in this area. Doing so is important because it means there will always be a body of knowledge for colleagues to refer to.
Once a week at 5pm the other analysts in my graduate intake and I have a video conference. This meeting gives us an opportunity to share information, and talk about what we've each learned that week. By 7pm I'm finished for the day.
Capital Markets, iShares
While studying for her bachelor's degree in Russia, Varvara intended to become a financial journalist. However, after enrolling on an investment management course at Cass Business School, she decided to change tack and pursue a career within the financial sector instead. She currently works within BlackRock's iShares business, the largest global issuer of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) - investment funds that issue stock exchange-traded shares.
I normally start work at 7.30am, and at 7.45am every morning all of the Capital Markets team have a meeting. There are four sub-teams within Capital Markets, each with a different function, so it's important to meet and discuss what happened during the previous day. It allows all the team members to stay informed and exchange views.
Afterwards, another graduate and I compile a summary of the meeting that's distributed to all of the team as well as our top management. At first, putting it together was an eye-opener as I wasn't familiar with some of the technical concepts used. However, it meant I had to be proactive and ask the people who had talked in the meeting for clarification. They were always happy to explain things to me, and it meant I learnt a lot from doing this task.
The purpose of the Capital Markets team is to help our clients to trade ETFs more efficiently. I support my team on various ad-hoc requests; for example, a client might want to know where a particular fund is being traded in the highest volume. I'm also involved in developing systems that allow us to enhance clients' ETF trading experience.
Each month I produce a report listing all the funds we have in EMEA and giving technical details about each one. We recently came up with a better way of presenting this information and making it more user-friendly. It's been a very interesting project because there's lots of important information within the report that I can gain insights from. This report is distributed to our clients in several EMEA offices, including UK, Germany, France and Switzerland. I finish work by 6pm.
A positive working environment
"The culture here can be relaxed but it's extremely professional. There's a pretty flat management structure - you can approach anybody regardless of position or title and they'll be happy to spend time talking to you. Even if they can't find the time at that moment, they'll let you know when they'll be free and will arrange to meet you or give you a call. The firm is keen to encourage people to be inquisitive."
"There's a real focus on teamwork - lots of companies use that word but it actually has a meaning here. We have an open-door policy and the resources you need to learn and to grow are always available. Both my intake of graduates and my team in iShares arrange social activities outside of work. These are often very informal and happen really naturally, which I think is a by-product of how friendly people are here."