BlackRock’s Fink praises Aussie super system

Australia is one of the most-prepared countries for retirement in the world, according to BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink, thanks to its superannuation system. 

Speaking with the Financial Services Council at its Investment Summit, Fink told FSC chief executive, Sally Loane, that he understood the super system may have kept wages low but this was balanced out by the benefits it brought in retirement. 

Fink said: “Australia is more prepared than almost any country in the world for retirement. Some people will say the scale of the retirement (savings) has kept wages down, but despite all the arguments, it has worked. 

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“And now with COVID-19 people are able to use some of their savings to pay for their short-term needs. I truly hope that with future growth rates that those people who withdraw their money will have adequacy when they retire, but I understand the balance of the today's needs versus future needs.”  

He said two-thirds of BlackRock’s US$7.43 trillion ($10.19 trillion) in assets was in retirement which encouraged the firm to think about saving for retirement and long-term investing.  

“The beauty of the investment management industry really is about long-term outcomes. And it's about retirement since two-thirds of BlackRock (funds under management) is retirement, we try to spend most of the time talking about long term outcomes. And I truly wish we had a longer a deeper, a more robust conversation about long term outcomes.” 

Meanwhile, he said the company had been adapting to the new remote working environment and did not expect to have the office back at full capacity “ever again” as staff moved to work from home. The firm had over 16,000 employees and only 5% to 6% were back in the office.  

“COVID has accelerated the utilisation of technology. Companies that were able to work remotely have flourished, if they have a lot of technology. What we have also learned are that we don't need 100% of employees in office ever again,” Fink said. 

“That's a blessing for so many -can you imagine having two hours back on your day when you don’t have the roundtrip commute? At BlackRock, I don't think we'll have more than 60% or 70% ever in office again.”  

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