Twenty-five years ago, just as The Observer was getting started, a promising young banker was being publicly humiliated by his employer. In a ham-handed attempt to seem chastened after losing a ton of money, First Boston fired Laurence Fink, who had recently been its wunderkind. At 31, Mr. Fink was the youngest member of FB’s management committee, and plenty assumed he would eventually be First Boston’s leader. Now he was out on the street. He started a small money management firm with a line of credit and a tiny sublet office. And today, Laurence Fink is the single most influential banker since J.P. Morgan.
Mr. Fink’s BlackRock manages more investment money than anyone in the world and gives advice to other Wall Street leaders. He has been the White House’s go-to guy since the financial services crisis and recession of 2008. He moves the stock market and the economy, controls investment of your retirement money and determines whether you get a mortgage.
The financial crisis transformed Mr. Fink into our economy’s nanny and BlackRock into the world’s biggest money manager. Mr. Fink steered BlackRock clear of the meltdown, and behind the scenes he advised, among others, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, A.I.G., the White House, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Since then, daring acquisitions and bailout assistance to the U.S. government have put more than $12 trillion under BlackRock’s watch, and Mr. Fink’s hyper-analytical, computer-driven risk models have landed the Upper East Sider on Barron’s list of World’s Best CEOs each year since 2005.
Mr. Fink manages over a trillion dollars in pension and retirement money, most likely including yours. His company oversees hundreds of billions in assets that the government took over from Bear Stearns, A.I.G. and Citigroup. He also monitors the balance sheets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and provides daily evaluations for the New York Fed on its 13-figure portfolio of mortgage-backed securities. As well as managing more money than anyone in the world, Mr. Fink contributes in other ways—he’s a trustee at MoMA, serves on various NYU boards and is a director at the Partnership for New York City.