When Lawrence Fink speaks, executives listen. Not just because he is CEO of BlackRock, one of the largest money management firms in the world, although that certainly has something to do it with it. Rather, over the years Fink has become renown for the advice he dispenses in his much anticipated annual letter to CEOs. In 2018, for instance, he set the investing world on its head when he told CEOs that their companies need to do more than just make profits—they also need to contribute to society. Granted, Fink said this with the might of $6 trillion in assets under management behind him and the very pointed observation that if companies want to receive backing or support from BlackRock they will take heed of his words.

But Fink’s letter last year and the one this year was seen as more than just marketing or one executive expounding on the issues. Fink set off a debate in offices around the world about the company’s purpose and what it owes society—a debate that arguably has helped lead to a renewed corporate commitment to environment, social and governance issues. This year’s missive was of a similar theme: “Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues—especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively,” he wrote. This indeed is a current trend that Fink is highlighting, which is what thought leaders do.


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