Five minutes with... Mark Oliver, BlackRock

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For this week’s profile, Wealth Professional talks to Mark Oliver, managing director and head of retail at investment management firm BlackRock Australia, on work-life balance, market volatility and using your longevity

What is your background and what does your current role involve?

I began my financial services career in 1988 as an analyst with a performance and risk consultancy in Edinburgh, Scotland. Later I became head of the asset manager consultancy unit.

I moved into funds management business development in 2000 and migrated to Australia in 2003 working for State Street Global Advisors and then Credit Suisse in distribution roles. I joined BlackRock in 2008 through their acquisition of Barclays Global Investors and today head BlackRock’s retail client business. 

My team of 18 specialists are located across three offices and are focused on helping advisers and distributors build better portfolios using our unique range of alternative investments, ETFs, indexed and actively managed funds and portfolio risk tools.

What do you believe your biggest career success to be?

My time with BlackRock has without doubt been the most rewarding of my career to date. I have a strong philosophical alignment with our founder-led firm’s principles which include being a fiduciary to our clients, passionate about performance and being innovators.

What’s the biggest challenge you have had to overcome to get to where you are now?

Work-life balance! It is a balancing act to make enough time for family and friends as part of a global organisation.

Which hurdles do you see financial planners facing right now?

The combined effects of regulatory change and market volatility have presented challenges for many. We consistently hear that advisers’ main challenge is how they strike a balance between time with clients and time running their business. 

Key to this is defining their value proposition and ensuring they can deliver this in the most efficient, profitable and mutually beneficial way.

What are your current hot tips for financial planners and their clients?

Maybe not a hot tip – but something worth considering – is to use your longevity. Much has been written of the challenges of society’s increasing longevity but surely this is a blessing, and an opportunity! 

Investing for a long retirement is complicated but a few ideas may help make the most of your longevity. Invest early and often, allotting small amounts over time can be easier to bear than having to play catch up. 

Also, consider all your investment options, including alternative investments, and combining indexed and active strategies to manage diversification and costs along the way.

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