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BlackRock and Microsoft Team up for Digital Financial Planning Rollout

December 14, 2018

Asset management behemoth BlackRock has agreed to partner with Microsoft to roll out a digital financial planning platform for employee workplace savings plans, according to news reports.

Companies that want to offer their employees access to new BlackRock funds rolling out in 2019 will have to sign up for this platform, as the company plans to bundle the new digital offering with its asset management services, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Unlike most regular 401(k) plans, these funds aim to provide guaranteed income to plan participants, according to the paper.

While they will be similar to target-date funds, because they’ll offer a mix of products that become progressively more conservative as savers approach retirement, BlackRock also plans to boost allocation to annuities, which provide regular income during retirement, the Journal writes.

BlackRock is bucking the trend here: the complexity and cost of annuities has prevented many employers from offering them in their workplace retirement plans, according to the paper. BlackRock is talking to insurers, record-keepers and custodians about whether they would want to be connected with the new platform, one source tells the Journal.

The project, however, is still very much in the early stages, with executives at both firms still considering various prototypes of tools, such as mobile applications that reward users for “thrifty behavior,” the paper writes, citing a person familiar with the matter.

(Getty)

Even the idea for the partnership only dates back to May, when Laurence Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, and Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, had a private conversation about taking on “pressures on society as a generation of Americans enters old age with declining financial resources,” sources familiar with the matter tell the Journal.

“We are trying to nudge people a little bit towards a more active relationship with retirement,” said Mark McCombe, BlackRock’s head of the Americas, according to the paper.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here.