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How BlackRock is teaming up with Snowflake for a new generation of coding-savvy portfolio managers, traders, and analysts (BLK)

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 22 Feb 2021

<p><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/602fed4f8b932300187127ac-1000/Sudhir and Matt .jpg" border="0" alt="Sudhir Nair, global head of BlackRock's Aladdin business (left) and Matt Glickman, Snowflake's vice president of product for financial services." data-mce-source="BlackRock, Snowflake" data-mce-caption="Sudhir Nair, global head of BlackRock's Aladdin business (left) and Matt Glickman, Snowflake's vice president of product for financial services."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>BlackRock is partnering with a red-hot tech company as a way of <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrocks-gives-outlook-for-aladdin-during-first-quarter-earnings-2020-4">adapting one of its crown jewels</a> to meet a customer base increasingly focused on data and coding.&nbsp;</p><p>The world's largest asset manager said Monday it would launch a feature called Aladdin Data Cloud with the help of Snowflake, the cloud-data storage firm that last fall had the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coatue-factset-fidelity-early-adopters-snowflake-data-exchange-2020-3">largest software public offering</a> in history.&nbsp;</p><p>The new feature allows customers to access and combine Aladdin's data with their own internal or third-party data sets, enabling them to better tweak <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrock-aladdin-climate-big-data-analytics-sustainable-esg-investing-2021-2">the gargantuan risk analytics and tech system</a> widely used across Wall Street. It'll also serve as a big boost for Aladdin Studio, a set of tools for developers to open up and customize Aladdin for their needs.&nbsp;</p><p>The decision to open up Aladdin for more customization was a long time coming, Sudhir Nair, global head of the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrocks-aladdin-growth-potential-alternatives-investments-2020-5">Aladdin business at BlackRock</a>, told Insider. Technical and engineering skill sets are increasingly migrating beyond tech-focused roleslong reserved for the so-called back officeto professionals who meet with clients and manage investments.&nbsp;</p><p>"For them, in addition to providing them access to Aladdin tools, there is really a desire and a need to have direct access to APIs, and capabilities and documentations that they can build themselves," Nair added.</p><p>Matthew Glickman, Snowflake's vice president of product for financial services who previously spent more than two decades at Goldman Sachs, noted many traders and portfolio managers are learning to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/barclays-traders-learn-python-2019-2">write Python code</a>, a programming language that's gained popularity among Wall Street types in recent years, as an example of the blurring of the line between tech and the front office.</p><p>"These roles are becoming more data-focused and more model-focused than they ever were. It's a natural evolution that platforms like Aladdin and Snowflake being able to address that and meet those business users where they are as opposed to having to think about them as discrete roles from technology roles," he told Insider in a phone interview.</p><h2>Aladdin has big plans for 2021</h2><p>The partnership is part of a wider set of plans BlackRock has for Aladdin this year. BlackRock's Aladdin systemshort for asset, liability, debt, and derivative investment networkessentially helps investors examine and manage risk in their portfolios across different asset classes.&nbsp;</p><p>The sheer scale of assets Aladdin services is difficult to comprehend: some $21.6 trillion in assets sat on the platform from just a third of its clients, <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/5ba6f40e-4e4d-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5">according to a February 2020 Financial Times report</a> that cited public documents verified with the companies and first-hand accounts.&nbsp;It counts asset managers, insurers, pensions, and government institutions as clients.&nbsp;</p><p>BlackRock now has teams and processes in place to handle Aladdin Data Cloud, and through Aladdin Studio has offered application programming interfaces, or APIs, for more than a year, a spokesperson said.</p><p>Aladdin is one of the areas the firm has said it is investing, along with other growth areas like private markets, its iShares exchange-traded funds, and sustainability, BlackRock Chief Financial Officer Gary Shedlin said last month on a conference call to discuss earnings.</p><p>It is core to BlackRock's sustainability plans, too; the firm recently took an undisclosed minority stake in Clarity AI, a startup that provides sustainable investing analytics and software. It plans to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrock-aladdin-climate-big-data-analytics-sustainable-esg-investing-2021-2">mesh Clarity AI offerings with Aladdin</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/6030130f623bd30012bcc453-2400/ap_18269832295809.jpg" border="0" alt="Larry Fink" data-mce-source="AP"></p><p>The partnership with Snowflake is also going to help BlackRock build out new tools, and "without a doubt, we're going to continue to make more and more data accessible," Nair said, pointing to exposing more APIs and other services.&nbsp;</p><p>"I do think this is going to unlock a new suite of capabilities," he said. "A lot of that is going to be driven off of clients and feedback as they use it, as they build. We will get great feedback on what could either make it easier or the next suite of capabilities that they need next."&nbsp;</p><h2>Snowflake eyes Wall Street</h2><p>Meanwhile, the partnership represents a big win for Snowflake as it looks to grow its market share among financial firms.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/cloud-software-unicorn-snowflake-rolling-out-new-data-exchange-2020-3">The San Mateo, California-headquartered&nbsp;firm's main value proposition</a>helping customers manage data in the cloudis a key need for many on Wall Street who are making <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/morgan-stanley-head-cloud-architecture-technology-bobby-gilja-2021-2">initial forays into the public cloud</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>The Snowflake Data Exchange, launched in 2019 as the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/cloud-software-unicorn-snowflake-rolling-out-new-data-exchange-2020-3">go-between for data providers and their consumers</a>, has already seen uptake from major financial firms and vendors such as <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coatue-factset-fidelity-early-adopters-snowflake-data-exchange-2020-3">hedge fund Coatue and data giant FactSet</a>.</p><p>Through the partnership with Aladdin, Snowflake will get a foot in the door with a major chunk of the Street that uses the near-ubiquitous system.</p><p>"Earlier on we were providing a differentiated technology, and basically it meant where our customers had to take this very differentiated platform and fill in the gaps and solve their business problems," Glickman said. "With this partnership with Aladdin, this allows us to really meet our customers closer to the problem they are trying to solve."</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coatue-factset-fidelity-early-adopters-snowflake-data-exchange-2020-3" >Snowflake had the biggest-ever software IPO. Execs at Coatue, Fidelity, and FactSet explain why they were early adopters of the company's data exchange and how it can transform Wall Street.</a></strong></p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/cloud-software-unicorn-snowflake-rolling-out-new-data-exchange-2020-3" >$12.4 billion startup Snowflake is targeting Wall Street with a new data exchange that's already signed up FactSet and Coatue</a></strong></p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrock-aladdin-climate-big-data-analytics-sustainable-esg-investing-2021-2" >How BlackRock is 'sprinting' to solve ESG's data dilemma, according to Aladdin's sustainability head</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/blackrock-aladdin-teaming-up-with-snowflake-data-cloud-partnership-2021-2#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-make-beer-with-picobrew-c-home-brew-2020-3">We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button</a></p>
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