BlackRock has hired former president Barack Obama’s ex-climate and energy advisor Brian Deese to lead its sustainable investing unit.
He will replace Deborah Winshel who was appointed head of the division when it was first formed in February 2015. She will remain with the firm but focus on philanthropy, according to memo seen by Citywire.
While working as senior adviser to the president, Deese played a role in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015, helped negotiate the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act and oversaw the Supreme Court nomination process in February 2016.
In his new role, Deese will appoint a chief investment officer for sustainable investing who will work with portfolio managers to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into all BlackRock strategies. He will additionally hire a specialist in climate change and natural resources.
He will report to Rich Kushel, BlackRock head of multi-asset strategies, and will be based in the firm’s Boston office.
The firm’s 11-person sustainable investing unit manages $195 billion, down from over $200 billion when the initiative first started in 2015.
Currently the group is responsible for two climate exchange-traded funds (ETFs), five broad ESG mutual funds and two impact mutual funds as well as one impact ETF.
'Our clients increasingly are seeking investment outcomes aligned with ESG goals,' wrote Kushel in the memo.
'Given the breadth of BlackRock’s platform, our history of investment innovation, and our unique expertise in data and analytics, this represents a significant long-term growth opportunity for BlackRock.'