BlackRock Hires White House Adviser as Managing Director

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, hired White House economic adviser Sarah Bianchi for a unit that helps governments value assets and banks comply with new regulations.

Bianchi, 41, will start May 12 as a managing director and report to Craig Phillips, the head of the financial markets advisory group within BlackRock Solutions, according to an internal BlackRock memo. She served as director of economic and domestic policy for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and as deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for economic policy since 2011.

“Sarah Bianchi has been an invaluable economic policy advisor for me and the President for the past few years -- crafting policies from housing to taxes and budget and stepping in to help guide the implementation of the Affordable Care Act last fall,” Biden said in an e-mailed message.

BlackRock, which manages $4.4 trillion in assets, has been expanding its ranks by recruiting former public officials in the U.S. and abroad. The firm last year hired Gerardo Rodriguez Regordosa, former undersecretary of finance and public credit in Mexico, to help guide its expansion in the emerging markets. In 2012, the firm added Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss central bank, to oversee relationships with institutional clients outside the U.S.

Illiquid Assets

Bianchi, who graduated from Harvard University in 1995 according to her LinkedIn profile, will be based in Washington. She was a policy director for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign in 2004, and for former Vice President Al Gore when he ran for President in the 2000 election. She worked at hedge-fund firm Eton Park Capital Management LP as an investment adviser beginning in 2005, according to the memo.

The money manager’s financial markets advisory business was started in March 2008 and advised governments during the financial crisis on illiquid assets. It’s now focusing on helping banks comply with new regulations, Chief Financial Officer Gary Shedlin said at a conference in February.

BlackRock Solutions has worked with the U.S. government, helping the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sell more than $70 billion of toxic debt assumed during the bailout of American International Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s takeover of Bear Stearns Cos. It’s also assisted governments in Ireland and Greece by evaluating their troubled banks.

Washington ‘Perspective’

The advisory business, which has been “lumpier” than others of BlackRock’s units, is becoming steadier as it evolves into helping financial firms navigate the regulatory landscape rather than crisis management, Shedlin said.

As banks and insurance companies grapple with regulations from multiple regulatory groups, Bianchi brings “a top-level view of how those agencies relate to the process we’re addressing and the process by which rules are made and understanding them,” Phillips said in a telephone interview.

“One of her main strengths is really understanding the perspective on the Washington process and what are the drivers of the various regulations, and helping us better interpret for our clients,” he said.

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