BlackRock shining star is featured speaker at SOM networking event
By Steve Seepersaud
(Pictured from left to right: Robert Eicher '81, President Harvey Stenger, Robert Goldstein '94 and SOM Dean Upinder Dhillon)
Since long before the days of Ponce de León, humankind has been obsessed with the concept of a fountain of youth. Although that remains elusive, people are indeed living longer. While on the surface that sounds wonderful, Robert Goldstein '94 says there are some negative spillover effects that society should confront.
Goldstein, head of BlackRock's Institutional Client Business and BlackRock Solutions, and No. 5 on the Fortune magazine "40 Under 40" List, was the featured speaker at the School of Management's Fall Networking Event held Oct. 17 at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. In his remarks to the crowd of more than 100 alumni, Goldstein discussed the crisis that resulted from the Great Society turning into the Gray Society.
Social Security, when initially conceived, was supposed to provide individuals with payments for a much shorter time horizon than today. Fixed-payment pension plans rarely exist anymore outside the public sector; most people are left on their own to manage private savings accounts.
"We've gone from collective to individual responsibility and we never prepared anyone for it," Goldstein says. "Most investors are not equipped to make investment decisions themselves. At BlackRock, we found that many people are concerned about outliving their savings. Many said it's more important to keep the money safe than to go after higher returns. In today's low interest-rate environment, fixed-income securities won't offer much benefit."
Because they can't afford to retire, older people stay in the workforce longer. That prevents the career mobility that would create openings at the bottom of the corporate ladder, so new college graduates have a tough time entering the job market. Goldstein pointed at Spain, in particular, where the youth unemployment rate is about 50 percent.
Rather than focus on the problem, Goldstein says the solution is to provide investors with greater tools to do the job themselves. His firm, BlackRock, offers free investment seminars for its employees. Goldstein jokes that investment advice isn't enough incentive so he offers free food.
"I feel strongly about this because I'm approaching a midlife transition," he says. "The concept of longevity will be a driving force in everything we see in society. It will impact our taxes, our school systems and make the skills we are taught that much more important. We've found that people don't care about what types of investments they own. What they care about is having the retirement they feel they deserve. We're doing what every company should do."
In his opening remarks, Upinder Dhillon, School of Management dean and Koffman Scholar, encouraged alumni to be engaged with the school, through recruitment, mentoring and offering experiential learning opportunities.
"These partnerships will help us achieve our mission to increase the quality of the education that we offer," Dhillon says.
President Harvey Stenger said the University is working to improve its rankings and reputation, and alumni can play a vital role in that effort.
"We need investments and we need to grow. We need to make sure our School of Management graduates are doing great," Stenger says.
Marc Bekerman '89, secretary for the Alumni Association Board of Directors, said alumni can support the University's mission through volunteerism, which can be achieved even off campus.
"Earlier this year, we had the successful launch of our Metro New York Chapter," Bekerman says. "We are committed to finding new ways for alumni to be involved with us."
The event was sponsored by Robert Eicher '81, the School of Management and the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Another networking event at the New York Athletic Club will take place in early spring 2014.
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