Nov. 29 marked the anniversary of what would have been Sir John Templeton’s 100th birthday, someone who helped shape my career as a portfolio manager, and who I admire greatly as a human being. I first met the late Sir John more than three decades ago when I was working as an analyst for a broker based in Hong Kong. I traveled a few times to Nassau to make presentations to the Templeton portfolio teams, which is how he and I first became acquainted.
One day Sir John approached me to manage a new emerging markets group that he was starting and was very excited about. I jumped at the opportunity. This was a great chance to do things globally rather than just focus on Taiwan (where I was head of the country’s first investment management company at the time), and there weren’t many—if any—other portfolio managers focusing on global emerging markets. So, it was quite an opportunity! This year is the 25th anniversary of what’s now the Templeton Emerging Markets Group. The markets certainly have changed a lot since then, but our core investment philosophy remains true to Sir John’s timeless approach.
One of the things that I always found most interesting about Sir John was that even though he was a wealthy man, he lived and worked very simply. He didn’t spend a lot of money, and he abhorred waste. For example, rather than discard note paper that had been used, he would cut it up and use the opposite side instead of purchasing new notepads. He was thinking green before recycling became widespread!
He was frugal with office space too. When I first started working with him, the Templeton office was located in the attic of a small shopping center in Nassau. I remember some Japanese investors came to meet with Sir John and they were shocked that, given the amount of money he was managing, he worked in such a modest office.
This resourcefulness was reflected in how Sir John worked, too. He was constantly reading and studying in order to make the most informed decisions possible.
I learned many things from the late Sir John, but I think the most important was humility. He always said that we have to be humble, because without humility we won’t be able to learn and adapt to changing environments. And he didn’t just talk about those things, he really led by example. That’s something I try to emulate in my own life.
The brief video below is in appreciation of Sir John’s life and the influence he still has on Franklin Templeton Investments’ perspective and our employees. Enjoy!