A sense of purpose

Larry Fink’s Annual Letter to CEOs (BlackRock)

For the fourth year in a row, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the largest fund manager in the world, has sent an open letter to the CEO’s of the biggest companies in Europe and the United States, reflecting on how to tackle some of the challenges that they are currently encountering.

The letter starts by outlining the prevailing uncertainty in which people are facing serious social problems such as slow wage growth, the lack of infrastructure (healthcare, energy, security, education …) or inadequate pension systems.  In the light of this scenario, he argues that the role of companies is key in providing solutions to these questions, since it is they who really have the resources, the management capabilities and the talent.

Thus, he believes that companies should put their focus on making a positive contribution to society as well as on generating financial profitability: "to benefit all stakeholders, which includes shareholders, employees, clients and the communities in which the company operates."

Among other issues, he defends that they should be working on a new corporate governance model based on interaction between the company and its stakeholders and, specifically, between shareholders and investors. A model in which company directors focus on the long term rather than just the quick wins, without losing their focus on social ends.

On this issue, Fink reflects on the role of BlackRock and, in general, on that of investors to move this conversation forward and prevent governance bodies from returning to the short-term approach; he offers to help companies rethink their role in society and to build a long-term vision.