BlackRock pushes real assets research with triple hire – exclusive

The asset management behemoth says its research build-up is a response to growing client demand for real estate and infrastructure.

BlackRock is expanding its research team with three hires globally, sister publication PERE has learned.

The asset management giant has appointed a head of European real assets research, head of Asian real assets research and European director as it continues to expand in real estate and infrastructure, said Alan Synnott, the firm’s global head of real assets research and product strategy.

BlackRock surveyed 224 of its institutional investor clients at the start of the year and found that 60 percent planned to increase their allocations to real assets, which includes real estate and infrastructure.

“The research team plays very much a primary role in market forecasting, analysis and long-term strategy evolution,” Synnott said, noting how research influences portfolio construction, along with buying and selling decisions. “At the same time, against that broader real assets background, clients are looking at a bigger market landscape, so they’re increasingly looking to us to provide education and insights, and sometimes to have a platform view on global asset class events.”

In London, BlackRock tapped Simon Durkin as head of European real assets research. He was formerly the head of research at BNP Paribas Real Estate and head of European real estate research at Deutsche Asset Management. Cynthia Parpa also joined BlackRock as a director, reporting to Durkin, from Gosvenor Group, where she was the director of research and analysis. In Hong Kong, BlackRock hired Bruce Wan as head of Asian real assets research. He previously was the head of property research for investment firm RF Capital in Sydney.

Through the hires, BlackRock seeks to broaden its scope of research too, particularly in infrastructure.

“If you look at real estate research, there’s a 20-25 year history of systems and processes inside real estate research,” Synnott said. “Rather than starting from scratch in infrastructure, the discipline in real estate can be applied forward in infrastructure, where we already have a lot of thought leadership on record.”

He added that the emergence of credit strategies for real estate and infrastructure, along with more active listed strategies, has made the investable market more robust than ever, which can bring up more questions for clients.

“With a bigger market environment, the need to have that integrated global perspective across regions is quite important,” Synnott said.

BlackRock managed $41 billion in real assets globally as of December 31, according to its website. The firm manages more than $6 trillion of assets overall.