- "The question isn't the financial system but the inclusiveness of the financial system, and we don't talk about that at all," BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told a panel at the World Economic Forum.
- The solution, he said, has to come from working with the majority of the population on financial literacy
- The billionaire investor recently wrote a controversial letter to CEOs urging them to be more socially responsible
One of the biggest issues on Larry Fink's mind these days is financial inclusion, he told a panel audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"I think the question isn't the financial system but the inclusiveness of the financial system, and we don't talk about that at all," the BlackRock CEO lamented during a panel entitled "Remaking the Future of Global Finance" moderated by CNBC.
"This is the greatest financial activity since the financial crisis, and we've seen a three-times increase in equity markets over the last 10 years," Fink said, referring to the record highs seen in the major U.S. stock indexes.
But the fundamental problem, he stressed, was that while those who own equities have done "fantastically well," including himself, "it has not been so impactful for so many people."
The reason is that "we are not addressing the issue of inclusion, of more participation in the marketplace," Fink said.
And that "has to come from working with the majority of the population on financial literacy, and improving that financial literacy so they don't feel frightened of moving their money into long term instruments."
The billionaire investor drew attention this month after writing a letter to fellow CEOs urging them to be more socially responsible. The letter, entitled "A sense of purpose," said that, "To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society."
On the panel, Fink went on to emphasize that despite record gains for those involved in the financial markets, too many ordinary people are not feeling those benefits and losing sight of a secure retirement. "That creates an incredible amount of fear," he told the audience.
He also cited worsening class divides and a growing sense of displacement among older people, saying that while global growth and falling unemployment may help the young, "It's not going to solve as much anger as we think."
The future, Fink stressed, is far less bright for those approaching retirement age who have not mobilized their savings.
"As much as 72 percent of all savings is sitting in bank accounts in Germany and France, missing one of the biggest market rallies ever," he reiterated. "Why? They're frightened of the future."
Fink referred back to his letter, driving home his belief that companies working with communities and "having a purpose that can connect with your employees, connect with your clients, those are going be the leading companies in the future."
BlackRock is the world's largest asset management firm, with more than $6 trillion in assets under management.