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The Power of Partnership
The Power of Partnership
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The Power of Partnership

21/06/2019

Robert Fairbairn

Robert Fairbairn

Senior Managing Director

Blackrock

Robert Fairbairn, Senior Managing Director with BlackRock, discusses what makes a good partnership.

How does a relationship develop to become a partnership?

There are several key criteria needed for a successful partnership that will stand the test of time and be mutually beneficial. Most importantly, there has to be a sense that the firm you are working with actually wants to partner. It has to believe that that’s the right way to do business.

When I think of partnership journeys that I’ve been involved in at BlackRock, they all have pivotal moments when a relationship moves from what I call ‘a thousand cups of coffee’, where you are getting to know each other, to one of extreme trust around a certain piece of business. That was exactly the case with our relationship with BNP Paribas. For us, it was when BNP Paribas Asset Management appointed Aladdin, our risk and analytics operations platform, to be the very spine of their business. This successful appointment created an atmosphere where BlackRock and BNP Paribas wanted to find multiple ways we could move forward. This eventually led to the securities servicing business that BNP Paribas is providing for our ETFs in Brazil. That’s a great example of something that perhaps never would have happened had we not had the partnership in place.

I’m excited about the relationship between the two firms going forward. Our firms have a shared belief in the meaning of partnership and how it can lead to better outcomes for our clients and our two organisations.

How would you define the BlackRock and BNP Paribas partnership today?

A few years ago, I would say BlackRock and BNP Paribas had a good relationship, but it wasn’t a partnership. Both firms were working together on positioning our products inside the various distribution systems of BNP Paribas, and our capital markets businesses were working together on certain elements.

However, what happened last year with the selection of our Aladdin platform was a real commitment at the top of both organisations to turn this relationship into something quite special – a real partnership. One of the great things about this partnership is that it has almost infinite headroom to grow. We have so much of what’s required to be successful in this partnership already.

"When I think of partnership journeys that I’ve been involved in at BlackRock, they all have pivotal moments when a relationship moves from what I call ‘a thousand cups of coffee’, where you are getting to know each other, to one of extreme trust around a certain piece of business”

Robert Fairbairn, Senior Managing Director, Blackrock

Robert Fairbairn shares the critical factors of a successful partnership

STEP BY STEP

It is important to keep in mind that small steps can lead to giant leaps. Carefully thinking about individual projects and executing them well is really going to build the bigger pie over time.

TRANSPARENCY

Both firms have to be clear and honest with each other. When a product and/or service may not be strong enough to support each other, we need to be transparent about the issue.

MEASURABLE

Measurable outcomes are incredibly important. Set goals and review how we have done against those goals.

ACCOUNTABILITY

For each work stream, there is one BlackRock leader and one BNP Paribas leader working together to drive the outcome.

RESPONSIBILITY

We have a responsibility around the partnership – to our shareholders, our employees and, most importantly, our clients. BNP Paribas’ commitment to sustainability very much chimes with everything that BlackRock is doing.

SENIOR MANAGEMENT ALIGNMENT

Without senior management alignment, you will never have a successful partnership. The rest of us can be ambitious and pursue individual lines of opportunity, but you are never going to have something special without buy-in from senior management.

 

Robert Fairbairn

Robert Fairbairn oversees the Strategic Partner Programme, responsible for BlackRock's largest client relationships, and the Strategic Product Management Group, responsible for the firm's overall product strategy and product suite. Fairbairn is a member of the Global Executive Committee, Global Operating Committee and co-chairs the Human Capital Committee. He also serves as a board member for the BlackRock Equity-Bond and Equity-Liquidity mutual fund family.

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