BlackRock has hired John Roe, a senior executive at communications and investor relations firm Joele Frank, to head its investment stewardship team in the Americas, according to a Reuters report.
Roe will join the investment giant next week as a director and head of BlackRock Investment Stewardship (BIS), Americas, according to a memo sent to employees on Monday and seen by Reuters.
Roe will oversee BlackRock’s interactions with hundreds of U.S. companies, including proxy targets. He is poised to have a powerful voice in the governance world given BlackRock’s large positions in many companies.
BlackRock, the largest money manager in the world with $9.5 trillion in assets, last month said it would give some of its biggest customers, such as pension funds, the choice to cast their own proxy votes starting next year. The asset manager said this would be followed by other steps aimed at empowering its clients to participate in proxy voting decisions.
The changes could lead to a rise in support for activists as BlackRock is known for largely backing management proposals during proxy contests. During the 2020/21 proxy season, BlackRock supported at least one dissident nominee in only 14.3% of contested elections, down from 25% of the time in the 2019/20 season, according to Insightia data.
Roe will pick up the baton from Ray Cameron, who for three years led BlackRock’s investment stewardship for the Americas. Cameron moved to BlackRock’s institutional client business several weeks ago.
At Joele Frank, Roe co-led the firm’s ESG group as a partner. Previously, he spent nearly seven years at influential proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services, where he was head of its global data and intelligence arm, ISS Analytics.
“John therefore joins us with a blend of governance experience gained from his time on the buy side, in a leadership role at a proxy advisory firm, and his most recent role at Joele Frank,” Sandy Boss, BlackRock’s global head of investment stewardship, wrote in the memo.