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MSU Economics Alumni Spotlight: Nick Nefouse shares his journey and advice for undergraduates

By Katie Nicpon

Nick Nefouse
Caption: MSU Economics alumnus Nick Nefouse receives the College of Social Science Young Alumni Award from Dean Mary Finn October 14, 2022. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Hawthorne, College of Social Science photographer.

Nick Nefouse, CFA, an MSU Economics alumnus, is the Global Head of Retirement Solutions in BlackRock’s Multi-Asset Strategies & Solutions (MASS) team and Head of LifePath, BlackRock’s global target date fund franchise – helping millions around the world save and invest for retirement. He is a board member of both the Financial Markets Institute Board and Department of Economics Alumni Advisory Board.

Nick is passionate about veterans’ affairs and has served as a mentor with the American Corporate Partners (ACP) program for several years. In his spare time, he also coaches his kids’ youth lacrosse teams in New York. During MSU’s Homecoming 2022, he received the College of Social Science Young Alumni Award.

As an undergraduate, Nefouse was drawn to economics because his courses taught him to go beyond memorization and tests. They helped him learn how to discover the core cause behind what was happening.

“Economics forces you to think about systems and why systems evolve,” he said.

Nefouse graduated from MSU with a degree in economics in 2003 and moved to New Jersey for a position in Merril Lynch’s asset management division.

“While I loved economics, it took me a while to catch up with some of the accounting and finance majors at Merril Lynch,” he said. “They had the hard skills, but this gap dissipated over time as learned on the job. My foundation in economics gave me an understanding of economies, history, systems and markets that proved more valuable over time.”

After the company was bought out by BlackRock in 2006, Nefouse was asked to move to London and stayed from 2008-2013.

“My wife and I had our first son in London,” he reminisced. “Those 5 years were amazing and I would not have done it had I not gotten the opportunity to study abroad my junior year.”

Nefouse had studied abroad in Australia for six months during his time at MSU.

“MSU’s Study abroad program was amazing,” he said. “Admittedly, there were as many social benefits as academic! However, I realized there was a whole world out there to explore.”

Nefouse is now the team leader of Retirement Solutions which builds and manages BlackRock lifecycle products. He oversees the Target Date Fund franchise globally, which accounts for about $400 billion.

“We focus on problems like decumulation, modeling insurance into traditional asset allocation models and social security optimization to name a few,” he said.

Looking back on his time as an undergraduate at MSU, Nefouse has important advice for economics undergraduates.

“1. Stay curious, never stop learning.
2. Establish a work ethic second to none
3. Careers are not linear. There will be hard times.
4. Take risks, especially when you are young. I am always amazed at how every year of my life is a little more complex than my last.
5. Invest in your family and close friends just like your career. You will know what I mean when you need them.”


Michigan State University Department of Economics