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January 16, 2022

BlackRock (BLK.N) chief Larry Fink says becoming the first asset manager to pass $10 trillion in funds under management is “just a number.” The boss of the world’s biggest fund manager instead spent much of Friday’s earnings call extolling the growth of active management, which contributed over 60% of organic fee growth and half of net asset inflows in 2021.

That’s a fight back against the long-running march of low-fee passive index funds. And it makes BlackRock the third-largest active manager, behind Fidelity Investments and Capital Group, according to the company. Each actively managed dollar is more lucrative: 49% of BlackRock’s fee and securities lending revenue came from active strategies in the fourth quarter, despite accounting for only 26% of assets under management.

Active management also ties in with Fink’s evangelism on sustainability, an area where lots of clients want managers to screen investments for them. While attention often focuses on BlackRock’s heft and influence by dint of its massive index fund business, more hands-on strategies matter, too.