What is a separately managed account?

SMAs are portfolios of individual stocks and bonds that BlackRock manages and can customize to align with a client’s particular tax needs and personal values.

How do SMAs compare to ETFs and mutual funds?

With SMAs, since each client directly owns the underlying stocks and bonds, you get visibility into the underlying securities, greater fee transparency and the ability to customize holdings to align with tax management and values preferences.
Sma chart comparison with etfs and mutual funds

Growing industry adoption

SMAs are one of the fastest growing investment vehicles in the managed account industry, but less than half of the total advisor population are implementing them in their practice. This presents a significant opportunity for advisors to differentiate themselves with clients.
industry assets
in industry assets, representing ~25% of the managed account industry.
forty percent
of advisors currently implementing SMAs in their practice.

*The Cerulli Edge: U.S. Managed Accounts Edition, 3Q23

BlackRock’s SMA platform can help solve for client challenges such as:

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After-tax returns
Help your clients keep more of what they earn through active tax-management, including tax-loss harvesting.
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Personalization needs
Help deliver personalized solutions that are aligned with your clients’ investment objectives and values preferences.
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Concentrated stock
Help manage the risk of your clients’ concentrated stock positions with highly customizable approaches, including tax-neutral liquidations.

Explore BlackRock’s SMA platform

BlackRock provides advisors the solutions to better tailor portfolios to the specific needs of their clients across equity, fixed income, and option overlay strategies.

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BlackRock’s direct indexing strategies seek to replicate the returns of an index pre-tax and outperform after-tax. Individual security ownership allows clients to transition their positions in-kind, harvest losses on an ongoing basis, and customize positions to reflect the individuality of the investor. Aperio, BlackRock’s direct indexing provider, has partnered with advisors for over 20 years with two main differentiators.

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Thoughtful personalization
Make tax-efficient strategy changes, implement personal values within a portfolio, as well as minimize concentrated positions in a tax effective way.
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Our team of strategists, tax economists, and values-aligned experts partner directly with you and your team to deliver highly tailored SMA solutions.

BlackRock’s fixed income SMA platform combines the benefits of institutional management with the permanence and definition of owning individual bonds. A leading provider of fixed income SMAs for 40+ years, BlackRock works alongside advisors to build scalable, personalized portfolios that can be tailored to your client’s values while seeking to maximize for after-tax returns.

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Access to experts
Our team of portfolio managers 2 help construct and manage client portfolios, backed by a credit research team that monitors profiles of thousands of bond issuers through Aladdin.


Size and scale
Participation in the newly issued bonds and secondary markets allows BlackRock to purchase bonds at scale, which can benefit clients through lower transaction costs.

SpiderRock Advisors (SRA), BlackRock's option overlay capability, can help advisors implement customizable and tax-efficient solutions to manage concentrated stock and portfolio risk.

Manage concentrated stock
Option overlay strategies offer the ability to manage the risk of a concentrated position and can be customized to meet risk reduction goals.
Manage portfolio risk
Option overlays can modify the risk of an existing portfolio of stocks, funds, or SMAs by hedging or generating income.
Partner with strategists
BlackRock Option Strategists can partner with you to scale option overlay strategies across your practice.


  • SMAs create benefits for both end investor and advisors by offering institutional investment management in an account of directly held securities. As a result, advisors of high net worth clients are increasingly adding SMA allocations in portfolios.

    Benefits for the End Investor:

    • Personalization: direct security ownership allows investors to tailor the holdings in their account to their investment objectives, personal values, and liquidity needs.
    • Tax Efficiency: SMAs can be funded in kind with securities to reduce capital gains realization, customized with tax efficient features like state specificity in municipal bonds, and systematically tax loss harvested to offset gains elsewhere in client portfolios.
    • Low Cost: SMA fees are often lower than those of mutual funds and can be negotiable for large client relationships.

    Benefits for the Advisor:

    • Capacity: advisors who adopt SMAs spend less time on research, portfolio management, and trading and more time with clients than peers who retain portfolio management responsibilities.
    • Institutional Access: SMAs give advisors the opportunity to deliver institutional risk management, market access, and execution in each client account.
    • Client Service: SMA PMs serve as an extension to an advisor’s team. BlackRock’s SMA PMs build client portfolios, conduct client reviews, and provide ongoing reports and analytics to both advisor and investor.
  • SMAs fees are billed monthly or quarterly as a percentage of the portfolio’s NAV. This billing process makes SMA fees more transparent than fund fees which are typically deducted directly from fund NAV throughout the year. SMAs like ETFs are generally lower cost than mutual funds, which may appeal to high net worth investors who qualify for their minimums.

  • SMAs are available through SMA or Unified Managed Account (UMA) platforms from broker dealers, custodians, and TAMPs across the wealth management industry. While each platform is unique, every SMA falls into one of two categories:

    Dual Contract: the SMA manager signs a direct contract with both advisor and client. This structure enables high levels of account customization and pricing flexibility, but may be more operationally cumbersome.
    Single Contract: the SMA manager signs a contract with the advisor, but not the client. While simpler to onboard, single contract SMAs offer less customization and pricing flexibility. SMAs on UMA platforms are single contract.

    BlackRock has SMA placement on all major industry platforms. For platform specific availability, please reach out to your BlackRock representative.