MiB: Samara Cohen, BlackRock CIO for ETF and Index Investments



This week, we speak with Samara Cohen, who is chief investment officer of ETF and Index investments at BlackRock. Her group oversees more than $6 trillion in ETFs and Indices of BlackRock’s $10 trillion assets under management.

She discusses how she landed a position on the Blackrock trading floor before moving on to Goldman Sachs. She returned to BlackRock 14 years later.

Cohen observes that “at Blackrock, there is absolutely nothing passive about index investing.” She prefers the term “Indexing” over “passive” to describe the way they manage their investment portfolio. It is more than simply aping a list of stocks, make sure ETF market quality, trading robustness, and the ability to withstand volatility and market stress is crucial. BlackRock uses its size to create liquidity and robustness, traits that proved its value in recent market turmoil.

We also discuss some of the more fascinating job titles in her department: Portfolio engineers, risk managers, platform architects, market structure developers, and product operating model designers all make the ETFs perform.

A list of her favorite books is here; A transcript of our conversation is available here Monday.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Bill Gross PIMCO co-founder who managed the Total Return Fund, which at $293B was the world’s largest mutual fund. Gross advised Treasury on the role of subprime mortgage bonds, and was named Morningstar’s Fund Manager of Decade in 2010. His new book is I’m Still Standing: Bond King Bill Gross and the PIMCO Express.



Samara Cohen’s Favorite Books

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future by Indra Nooyi

Books Barry Mentioned

Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever by Robin Wigglesworth

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by Mckenzie Funk


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