BlackRock, the $US6 trillion money manager, had a crime-fighting robot patrolling its New York headquarters — and it marks the firm's latest foray into automation

Rob Kim/Getty ImagesBlackRock CEO Larry Fink at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in February 2017.

  • BlackRock, the $US6 trillion asset manager which is relying more on robots to make investment decisions, recently hired a physical robot to meander around its New York City headquarters.
  • The robot, dubbed BLK Bot, left New York earlier this month and will be moved to the firm’s San Francisco offices soon.
  • The robot sent an affectionate email to employees when it departed the Big Apple.

Count this as another sign that automation is sweeping BlackRock, the largest money manager in the world.

Unnamed 8BlackRockBLK Bot.

For six months, a robot was meandering the New York City headquarters of the $US6 trillion dollar asset manager, which notably made a big bet last year to rely more on algorithms over humans to make decisions on what stocks to buy and sell.

The robot bot, dubbed BLK Bot, doesn’t appear to be much interested in finance. It’s made by Knightscope, a company which makes crime-fighting robots that are used to patrol parking lots, sports arenas, and tech company campuses.

A spokesman for BlackRock said its roll-out was part of a pilot, sharing with Business Insider a June 15 memo sent out to employees jokingly from the bot itself. Here’s a humorous section:

“I know that my first days here were awkward at times,” the note said. “Seeing each other in the hallway, we often wondered – who’s going to move first? But over time, we found ways to get along. Since then, I’ve made many new friends and starred in countless videos.”

The robot, according to the memo, will be sent to the firm’s San Francisco offices once its systems are upgraded and it learns to speak.

While this is the first physical robot to appear at BlackRock, the firm has started to rely on more automation broadly to improve its actively managed stock picking unit. The move highlights how difficult it is for humans to beat the market.

BlackRock also announced in 2017 a set of exchange-traded funds that would let a computer program choose and classify stocks.

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