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BlackRock empowers more investors with Voting Choice

BlackRock is further expanding the opportunity for certain institutional clients to participate in voting decisions following the successful launch of the BlackRock Voting Choice initiative.

BlackRock’s role is to help our clients achieve their long-term financial goals. Core to this is the fact that the money we manage is not our own; it belongs to our clients. We work hard to stay ahead of our clients’ needs by delivering them the widest set of choices across everything we do so they can choose what works best for them.

Our view is the choices we make available to clients should also extend to proxy voting. We believe clients should, where possible, have more choices as to how they participate in voting their index holdings1.

BlackRock Voting Choice, launched in January 2022, is a proprietary offering to enable more institutional clients to participate in voting decisions where legally and operationally viable. To do this, BlackRock has been developing new technology and working with industry partners over the past several years to enable a significant expansion in voting choices for more clients.

Expanding the universe for Voting Choice

Graphic chart displaying $4.9tn Total index equity assets under management, $2.3tn Eligible for Voting Choice, $530bn Exercising Voting Choice, $120bn Newly added to Voting Choice since January 2022.

Institutional clients in separate accounts globally have long had the opportunity to vote shareholdings. The January 2022 launch of BlackRock Voting Choice provided these clients with more options to determine how they wish to participate in shareholder voting. In January 2022, BlackRock Voting Choice was also launched for institutional clients invested in certain pooled funds managed by BlackRock in the U.S. and UK. As of June 2022, BlackRock is expanding the institutional pooled fund ranges eligible for BlackRock Voting Choice in the UK and is also expanding Voting Choice to Canadian and Irish institutional pooled funds. Now, $2.3tn (or 47%) of the $4.9tn2 index equity assets BlackRock manages on behalf of clients are eligible to participate in BlackRock Voting Choice. 

BlackRock clients have committed $530bn – or a quarter of eligible assets - to voting their own preferences through Voting Choice3. BlackRock is also working with industry partners on a pilot that aims to enable all investors in a UK mutual fund – institutions and individuals – to exercise choice in how their portion of eligible shareholder votes are cast on the companies in this fund. Read more about our June 2022 announcement.

We are committed to a future where every investor – even individual investors – can have the option to participate in voting decisions.

With BlackRock Voting Choice, institutional clients can choose from four options:

1. Clients exercise control over their voting:

Some of BlackRock’s largest institutional clients have the resources and the expertise to create their own voting policies, as well as the infrastructure needed to conduct the voting. This option gives clients in pooled vehicles the ability to apply their stewardship preferences in a consistent way across a broader share of their overall portfolio allocation and to exercise a high degree of control over the decision-making process and the voting implementation. BlackRock Voting Choice is available to institutional clients of all sizes and resourcing levels.

2. Clients take a hybrid approach to voting:

This option gives institutional clients in separately managed accounts (but not pooled vehicles) the ability to exercise their voting decisions on the topics or at the companies that matter most to them. Clients can choose to vote their own preferences on some categories of votes, rather than all; these may be specific proposals (for example on governance), specific sectors (such as energy or finance), or specific markets (often the client’s home market). The client can choose to leave all other voting decisions to the manager’s discretion.

3. Clients choose from a slate of third-party policies:

Under this option, institutional clients in both separately managed accounts and certain pooled vehicles can choose to follow an off-the-shelf voting policy from third-party proxy advisers, choosing the policy that best aligns with their views and preferences. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), Glass Lewis and others already offer ready-made policies4. Clients can currently choose from at least seven different third-party policies, and we expect and hope that the range of choices will expand over time in line with growing investor demand for a diversity of choices.

4. Clients rely on BlackRock’s informed judgment for all voting decisions:

In this option, clients may choose to rely on BlackRock for all of their voting decisions. Continuing to rely on BlackRock to exercise voting authority is itself a choice and a deliberate decision by the client to trust BlackRock as a fiduciary to look after its long-term economic interests.

1Institutional separate account clients have the opportunity to vote eligible proxies in eligible markets for the companies in which they are invested. Investors in participating pooled funds who meet the eligibility criteria and who elect option 1 or 3 below will have the opportunity to direct voting on eligible proxies in eligible markets for companies held by the funds. BlackRock will determine eligibility criteria under this program based upon, among other things, local market regulation and practice, cost considerations, operational risk and/or complexity, and financial considerations, including the decision to lend securities.
2BlackRock assets under management figures as of March 31, 2022. 
3Client participation data as of May 15, 2022; assets under management are as of March 31, 2022.
4Of the seven policies, all are available in the US and six are available in EMEA.

47%
($2.3tn) of our $4.9tn index equity assets are eligible for Voting Choice5
25%
($530bn) of eligible AUM ($2.3tn) committed to Voting Choice6
$1
$1tn of pooled fund assets are eligible for expanded voting options7
60
Over 60mn people invest in retirement assets eligible for Voting Choice8
$2.3
2.3tn of our index equity assets are eligible for BlackRock Voting Choice9
650
Over 650 global funds are eligible for BlackRock Voting Choice10

5 BlackRock as of March 31, 2022. 6 BlackRock as of May 15, 2022. 7 BlackRock as of May 4, 2022. 8 BlackRock as of May 4, 2022. 9 BlackRock as of May 4, 2022 10 BlackRock as of May 4, 2022.

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We are delighted to partner with BlackRock to allow our customers to have a say in voting decisions at companies in which PensionBee plans are invested. Giving customers the ability to participate in shareholder voting through their pensions is the powerful next step towards our vision to create a future where everyone can have a happy retirement.

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Romi Savova Chief Executive Officer, PensionBee
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Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) is pleased to join other asset owners in using Voting Choice, a groundbreaking proxy-voting implementation for commingled funds. SCERS applauds BlackRock for working through the technological and regulatory challenges that make Voting Choice a reality.

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Leola Ross Ph.D., CFA, Deputy CIO and Head of ESG, Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System