October 13, 2015 / 12:18 AM / 4 years ago

BlackRock plans new social-impact mutual fund

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock Inc., gestures at the session 'The Global Economic Outlook' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 24, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc will launch a new mutual fund on Tuesday that targets clients who want to boost the social impact of their investments, not just their returns.

The BlackRock Impact U.S. Equity Fund will be run by BlackRock’s Scientific Active Equity Team, an internal group that mines data for investing insights and manages $90 billion in assets, according to Debbie McCoy, a strategist on the fund. The firm has been working to increase the investment performance and sales in its stock-picking funds business.

The product is the first of its kind to be launched by BlackRock since the money manager announced in February that it hired Deborah Winshel, a former president of The Robin Hood Foundation, to spearhead an effort to help clients invest in products that take environmental and social goals into account.

“The principal societal impact outcomes that are currently measured include green innovation, corporate citizenship, high impact disease research, ethics controversies and litigation,” said the fund’s prospectus, which was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The fund will exclude businesses such as tobacco, alcohol and weapons.

BlackRock, which manages $4.7 trillion in assets, will offer the fund in three share classes, according to the preliminary prospectus.

The fund reinforces a trend among asset managers and retail brokerages of aligning investors’ personal values with their investment portfolios.

For instance, Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s Asset Management unit agreed in July to acquire Imprint Capital, which specializes in portfolios that incorporate environmental, social and corporate-governance goals.

BlackRock will use public as well as proprietary sources of information to decide which companies make it into the portfolio, McCoy said. The firm has seen interest in new social impact strategies from both institutional and retail clients, she added.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Richard Chang

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