BlackRock Inks Retirement Partnership With Microsoft

BlackRock is inking its biggest technology alliance yet, aiming to help Americans save for retirement.

The firm is working with Microsoft to build a platform for retirement savings that will launch next year, the world's largest asset manager said Thursday. Spokespeople for Microsoft and BlackRock declined further comment.

The product, which will be offered through employers, is still under development, a source with knowledge of the platform said. It's designed to be user-friendly, with a goal of being as intuitive as the ride-hailing application Uber.

The idea stemmed from a conversation earlier this year between BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in which the executives discussed creative ways for companies to address America's retirement crisis. Last year, Fink called the problems associated with longevity “one of the greatest financial challenges faced by our clients today.” About 40% of Americans said they are not confident they will have enough money in retirement, according to a Wells Fargo survey last month.

BlackRock oversees about $1 trillion in defined contribution assets, out of $6.4 trillion total assets under management. The firm is eyeing growth in the space as more private and public employers move away from pricier pensions to cheaper defined contribution plans, in which employees contribute a portion of their paycheck toward retirement.

BlackRock and Microsoft's product will first be available in the US before potentially rolling out to other regions. Through the platform, BlackRock plans to offer new investment options, such as annuities, which provide a regular stream of income in retirement.

The firm's head of Americas, Mark McCombe, is leading the effort for BlackRock. A spokesman for Microsoft declined to identify the technology company's internal leader.