The long-standing operations chief for BlackRock’s Asia-Pacific business, which has some $400 billion under management, has left to pursue other opportunities.

Michael Marquardt oversaw technology, legal and compliance, project management, operations and corporate services in the region for BlackRock. He had worked the world's biggest asset manager (and its predecessor firm, Barclays Global Investors) for nearly 17 years, the last seven as Asia-Pacific chief operating officer.

As of March 31 Andy Reynolds has assumed that post, in addition to being regional chief financial officer and head of corporate strategy.

Career plans

Marquardt said he had wanted to return to the US to take on a global role at BlackRock and had discussed opportunities with the firm for more than a year.

“The right position didn’t come up, so it was the right time to walk away and do something different,” he told AsianInvestor. “It was a very natural process and I'm very happy with where I am right now.”

Michael Marquardt

Marquardt is talking to a number of companies about his next move. “I’m taking a view on where the industry is going over the next decade with the changes that are going to happen, and looking at firms who can leverage my skills.

“I’m taking time to make a decision, but I hope to land something by the end of this year.”

While he is largely focused on his native US, Marquardt said he would consider staying in Asia or moving to Europe for the right role. That might involve overseeing operations for another big investment firm or potentially running a smaller business outright. “It depends on the scale of the company,” he noted.

He did not rule out working for an institutional investor, another fund house or a wealth management business. “My skills can be applied in many businesses, so I’m not going to limit my options."

Technology experience

Financial technology is one of the biggest trends in the investment industry, Marquardt noted. From artificial intelligence to blockchain to robotics, “what’s happening in the technology space is fantastic, but it will be a hard change for a lot of firms to navigate”.

He has substantial experience on this front. He was closely involved with the integration of businesses and personnel in the region as part of the BlackRock/BGI merger and worked on the buildout of a 1,200-person technology, operations and finance centre in India.

Marquardt also helped drive initiatives including the set-up of a China wholly foreign-owned enterprise and cross-border China investment programmes.

His other roles with the group include COO for Japan at BGI from 2007 to 2009, chief administrative officer for Japan from 2005 to 2007, as well as various project and risk management roles.

Meanwhile, BlackRock reorganised its global emerging markets team last month, with Andrew Swan, head of Asian equities, taking on oversight of the desk, among other changes.