"We are creating a more cohesive approach to portfolio construction and asset allocation and making it one of our top strategic priorities," said Laurence D. Fink, chairman and CEO, and Robert S. Kapito, president, in a memo issued to BlackRock employees on Thursday, which was obtained by Pensions & Investments.
The memo cites demand for portfolio construction and asset allocation services as growing at "double-digit rates industrywide."
The client portfolio solutions unit will be a "new investment pillar for the firm" alongside the firm's global fixed income, active equity, multiasset, alternatives, ETF and index, and trading and liquidity strategies, Messrs. Fink and Kapito said in the memo.
BlackRock's existing client solutions business — of which Mr. Marshall was global head — forms the core of the expanded portfolio solutions.
Mr. Marshall jointly reports to Richard Kushel, senior managing director and global head of multiasset and global fixed-income strategies, and Mark McCombe, senior managing director and head of the Americas.
The firm's third-party manager research group is now also part of the client portfolio solutions unit and reports to Mr. Marshall. The team will double its coverage of external money managers over the next two years through development of a more data-oriented and analysis-driven research process, the memo said.
BlackRock also will establish a new portfolio research group within BlackRock Investment Institute, the firm's investment research arm, which will develop a "unified set of portfolio construction and asset allocation best practices built around a single set of market assumptions, optimization models and investment principles," according to the memo.
The portfolio research group will report to Philipp Hildebrand, BlackRock's vice chairman. BlackRock Investment Institute and the firm's financial markets advisory businesses report to Mr. Hildebrand. Previously, the client solutions group also reported to him.
BlackRock managed $6.28 trillion as of Dec. 31.