BlackRock has added a range of new clients to its flagship investment operations platform Aladdin despite ongoing disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, as the system processes record trade volumes.
Speaking on the asset manager’s most recent earnings call, BlackRock chief Larry Fink stated that Aladdin processed record trade volume during the recent turbulent weeks, while helping clients, as well as its own business, operate as normal throughout the disruption.
“Our performance during the quarter would not have been possible without a unifying technology, without a unifying risk management system, and careful business continuity planning,” Fink said. “I’m incredibly proud on how Aladdin has enabled us to rebuild BlackRock beyond its walls to deliver the operational resilience, advice and solutions our clients need at this time.”
Nearly all of BlackRock’s 16,000 employees are currently working remotely, but it has onboarded several new clients to Aladdin in recent weeks. A total of seven new clients have gone live in the past four weeks, in countries including Italy and Spain, with a number of completely remote client implementations also underway.
“It’s been truly remarkable. Aladdin is built for these times, and we are both proud and also quite humbled by the feedback we’ve received from clients,” said Rob Goldstein, chief operating officer and global head of BlackRock solutions. “Market shocks and market volatility just underscore the need for robust enterprise operating and risk management technology and Aladdin is uniquely positioned to provide both to our clients.”
Earlier this month, BlackRock would host the Aladdin platform on the Microsoft Azure Cloud, which it said would both accelerate innovation with more computing scale and bring new capabilities to users to improve client experience.
BlackRock has outlined big plans for its Aladdin platform to become the ‘language of portfolios’ and portfolio construction, providing technology to as much of the asset management value chain as possible.
Goldstein previously outlined a strategy, known as Tech 2025, which has several pillars around the concept of building and enabling the whole portfolio ecosystem, with Aladdin serving as the language of portfolios, in terms of achieving that.
“That ecosystem and where we’re focused is on bringing together both public and private markets into one combined language and one combined platform,” he said. “We’re extending Aladdin to be a platform – to not just be a system, but to be a platform and to be a language that effectively connects in with other important technologies within the broader ecosystem that we live within.”
Referring to one example of how Aladdin is aiding firms during these uncertain times, Goldstein said Aladdin was used to publish a stress-test scenario based on the impact of coronavirus to its clients in early February. The stress-test then acted as a framework for clients to consider market implications of the pandemic.
“Personally, I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to run a firm with a cobbled together infrastructure through this situation,” Goldstein said.
First quarter technology revenues at BlackRock surged 34% year-on-year, driven by continued growth in adoption of Aladdin, as well as the asset manager’s $1.3 billion acquisition of alternative risk analytics provider eFront last year. Excluding the impact of eFront, technology revenues increased 13% in the first quarter.