Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

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Employer Monday: BlackRock

📥  Commercial Awareness, Employer Visit Report, Labour Market Intelligence, Networking, Sector Insight

Hey everybody, Employer Services Manager here again. If you read my last blog you’ll know I often visit employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. As I’ve said before; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you! A word of caution – I’m so easily impressed, I leave most places hoping they’ve a job for me!!

The visit I’ll tell you about today is a trip I took in the summer to see BlackRock.

GETTING THERE

I never mind a train ride to London. I don’t know the underground like the back of my hand but I do know it’s pretty hard to actually get lost! To get to BlackRock it was quick two-tube journey to Bank from Paddington and a short stroll. From the outside it didn’t look as spectacular as some buildings in London and I had to ask myself…

WHAT DO BLACKROCK ACTUALLY DO?

In the introduction to the day, the chap said BlackRock are the biggest Finance company we had never heard of! He wasn’t wrong. BlackRock ‘manage more money than any other investment manager in the world’. They have 13,000 employees in 70 offices across 6 continents. Despite managing £5.7trillion worth of assets in 100 countries they pride themselves on their ‘start-up’ culture and adaptability. There certainly was a ‘start-up’ feel to the BlackRock offices – no one was suited-and-booted and it felt rather relaxed. I was told they describe themselves as ‘respectfully anti-bureaucratic’ and ‘always challenging status quo’.

THE TECH SIDE

It certainly seems to go hand-in-hand nowadays that any large Finance company has a clear commitment to developing technology. At BlackRock they developed a platform called Aladdin which is used to manage global client assets and portfolios. It is a global, single-entrance platform which means that real time information can be accessed across different countries. What they’ve also decided to do is not just use Aladdin themselves but sell it to their competitors! They described this as giving competitors the ingredients but not the recipe!

In 2016, Aladdin produced an $800 million revenue for BlackRock and the analysts who work on it are known as ‘Aladdin Ninjas’!

I hadn’t given a huge amount of consideration to how companies make their forecasting but BlackRock told us about some ways and places they obtain and use data to make predictions:
• buy raw data from satellites to inform their forecasting ie, there is a direct correlation between the height of buildings in China and the global cost of steel
• using satellites to count the number of cars in a shopping mall car park in the US is an indicator of the state of the economy
• social media scraping data is used to do brand monitoring, trend watching, and sentiment/competitor analysis.

Their latest work sees them analysing the language used by CEOs to determine the relationship between language and salary!

JOBS AT BLACKROCK

1. Advisory and Client Services: These are all tech-focussed and include policy making and sector transformation, Client Solutions, Corporate, Financial markets.
2. Analytics and Risk: Including financial modelling, portfolio analysts and risk management.
3. Corporate Functions and Business Ops: Including finance, internal audit, HR, Legal and compliance, Marketing.
4. Investments: Including equity and fixed income, Liquidity, Quantum finance. (Investments make up 35% of the overall business but attract 65% of the applications.)
5. Relationship Management and Sales: Provide all clients with a single point of contact.
6. Technology: This is the largest area of Graduate Recruitment. It includes Software Engineering which is the only area of work which requires specific degree disciplines – Computer Science or Engineering.

Graduates on the Analyst programme are sent to New York for 2 weeks at the start of their programme so that they can learn all about the company and meet other graduates from all over the world. Not exactly your typical office induction!

LIFE AT BLACKROCK

BlackRock encourage work-life flexibility but don’t call it ‘work-life balance’ because late nights and weekend working will be required at some point. However, home working is also common. ‘As long as the work is done, it doesn’t matter where’, is their attitude.

They adopt ‘summer hours’ and finish at 3pm on Fridays. Casual dress is the norm around the office but people are expected to ‘dress for their client’ so often keep a spare shirt and tie on the back of the door. Students are not expected to dress particularly ‘corporate’ at Assessment Centres – apparently ‘tech people are particularly distrustful of suits’!

They do seem like a fun and supportive place to work (but I don’t doubt they expect hard working in return). There are a number of employee networks you can opt in to:
• Families @ BlackRock
• Veterans
• Disability Network
• Women’s Network
• Out Network (LGBT)

They also have a conscience! BlackRock have stopped producing corporate branded merchandise and instead donate to Kiva (a charity providing funding for start-ups in the third world). On top of this, every year each employee is given $25 to donate to a charity of their choice as well as 2 days per year to volunteer. BlackRock matches the amount of any fundraising.

Oh dear, can feel my fickleness kicking in again – I think I want to work here now!! I could see myself as a Ninja!

Think Aladdin sounds cool? What about other financial companies with sophisticated software? Check out: JP Morgan's Athena or Goldman Sachs' Securities Database

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