• Top brass from JPMorgan and BlackRock, among the firms to kick off earnings season with their results, said Tuesday that they expect more consolidation in the wealth- and asset-management industries.
  • Pressures on money managers have fueled a flurry of acquisitions in those areas this year, and analysts questioned executives about their own deal ambitions, albeit coming from different corners of the market. 
  • JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon said the bank would be “very interested” in deals in that space, and BlackRock finance chief Gary Shedlin said the firm was focused on targets that could expand its technology, global distribution, and private markets capabilities.
  • Last week, Morgan Stanley said it would buy investment manager Eaton Vance in a deal valued at $7 billion just days after it closed on its E-Trade acquisition. 
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Top brass at the world’s largest asset manager and largest US bank told analysts on Tuesday that they expect more mergers and acquisitions in the wealth- and asset-management industries, and signaled both firms are on the prowl. 

On the back of Morgan Stanley’s $7 billion deal for Eaton Vance last week, analysts peppered JPMorgan and BlackRock executives with questions about their appetites for deals during their respective third-quarter calls, which helped kick off the latest earnings season. 

“Well, since we have you all on the line, our doors, our lines are wide open. We would be very interested, and we do think you’ll see consolidation of the business,” JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said. 

“But we’re not going to be more specific than that,” he said, adding there were considerations around what type of deal would make sense for the largest US bank by assets, like technology, product, and execution. 

Dimon emphasized early this year that he was interested in carrying out more

BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, made headlines early this year when it pledged to prioritize climate change in its investments and pare down its coal holdings.

But environmentalists say the company has failed to make good on this promise in a series of shareholder proposals at annual meetings this year.

Led by influential Wall Street player Larry Fink and overseeing some $7.3 trillion in assets, BlackRock in January vowed to take action to address climate change and sustainable development, raising the hopes of environmentalists.

“We applauded BlackRock for its statement at the beginning of this year…. and we acknowledge that they have taken some steps in that direction,” said Ben Cushing, who leads the Sierra Club’s financial advocacy campaign.

“But clearly it has not translated into fast-enough, or bold-enough action.”

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink leads the world's biggest money manager, which has defended its record of pushing for greener policies in corporations BlackRock CEO Larry Fink leads the world’s biggest money manager, which has defended its record of pushing for greener policies in corporations Photo: AFP / Ludovic MARIN

Part of the skepticism comes from BlackRock’s response to shareholder proposals to require companies to take action on the environment.

BlackRock supported only 13 percent of the green-oriented resolutions in 2020, down from 20 percent in 2019, according to Proxy Insight, which tracks global shareholder voting.

A September report from non-governmental organization Majority Action said the New York financial giant backed only three of 36 resolutions on climate change in proxy votes of S&P 500 companies.

And though BlackRock signed on to Climate Action 100+, a global investor engagement initiative, the company supported just two of 12 resolutions presented by the coalition.

BlackRock holds shares in numerous large companies, including Apple, Facebook and Exxon Mobil, as well as ConocoPhillips and Nike.

Cushing said BlackRock could make a big difference if its actions match its rhetoric.

BlackRock has been criticized for not living up to its rhetoric on the environment BlackRock has been criticized for not living