We recently unearthed this profile of John Templeton from the February 1960 edition of the Wilson College Bulletin.
Investment Counselor: Like Doctor, Lawyer
John M. Templeton, M.A. (law) Balliol College, Oxford, has been president of Templeton, Dobbrow & Vance, Inc. for twenty years.
The firm’s three founders, Templeton, Dobbrow and Vance, were not law partners, however, as the name might suggest, but rather investment counselors.
Forty-five minutes from Times Square via express subway and a commuter bus to the suburban community of Englewood, N.J. — across the Hudson from Spuyten Duyvil — is the headquarters office and research center of the firm.
Here, again, there is much that resembles a law office, for in the large house converted to offices there are some 20 rooms where men are hard at work preparing analyses of companies not unlike the way in which lawyers might go about preparing briefs. There is a large reference library to the right of the entrance as well as smaller collections of reference materials in the respective offices. One clue to the research center’s connection with matters financial is the “banker’s green” carpeting in office, reception room and library.
The semblance between investment counseling and the practice of law was affirmed by Mr. Templeton himself. “Our role as investment counsel in not unlike that of a doctor or a lawyer—except that there are no midnight emergencies,” he added with a twinkle in his eye.
“Much as a law firm has its specialists in various phases of law, we have specialists in the different types of investments: electronics, steel, transport, petroleum, etc. And our clients regard us as they would their doctor of their lawyer, with confidence. We, in turn, respect their confidence and confidences and treat them and their investment needs in an individual manner just as a doctor would treat the needs of those who come to him. The relationship between counselor and client is, and must be, highly personal since each client’s problems differ from those of all others,” he said.
There was something of a clinical atmosphere in Mr. Templeton’s office itself: leather covered furniture, white walls, unobtrusive décor. Yet the one desk in the room had a pile of reports nearly six inches high which Mr. Templeton said is about a normal day’s reading for him. Many of them are abstracts or summaries prepared by his staff.
One is impressed by the intensity with which everyone does his work. Mr. Templeton keeps up a rapid pace. He had just returned from seeing a client in Montreal and would have met his interviewer as early as 8 a.m. in downtown Manhattan if that had been preferred. The firm maintains consultation office in New York City and in Philadelphia for the convenience of its clients. Mr. Templeton is also president and director of the Axe-Templeton Growth Fund of Canada, Ltd., in Toronto, and five other mutual investment funds.
While Mr. Templeton and his family, plus a niece and two nephews, toured Europe this summer by Volkswagen bus (a party of ten!) he received periodic reports and digests from his office and tried to keep himself constantly informed of the investment markets at home and abroad.
The European tour itself was organized not unlike his own company—with “specialists” in charge of various phases of the operation. His son Jack planned the itinerary and chose the hotels. His niece Jill (a Wilson senior) handled the budget and currency side of the trip. His daughter Candy wrote the account of their journey. His two nephews, Harvey and Handly, were in charge of packing the bus, seating the passengers, and keeping the bus clean. His step-daughter Wendy took charge of food purchases. His step-son Mac was the tour’s photographer. And his son Kit, was appointed head of the “No Grapes” detail, otherwise known as the Ambassador of Better Relations.
“The children really took us on this trip,” Mr. Templeton explained. “It was theirs. The hardest part was for my wife and me to sit back and keep still.”
And did the children make mistakes?
“Well, the biggest mistake was really mine. They asked if they saved money on the food budget whether they would be allowed to keep the money they saved. I consented. As a result, we had too many picnic meals instead of eating in restaurants,” he admitted.
Investment counselors, such as Mr. Templeton, are primarily for those with $100,000 and more to invest. But for those with smaller investment capital, Mr. Templeton and others head up such mutual investment funds as Templeton & Liddell Fund, Inc., Nucleonics, Chemistry & Electronics Shares, Inc. and the aforementioned Axe-Templeton Growth Fund of Canada, Ltd.
Mr. Templeton has been a member of Wilson’s board of trustees since 1952. He is vice-chairman of the finance committee. To this group he brings his philosophy of investments, and, as one member has said, he also, from time to time, points up lessons in economics.
In addition to serving Wilson as a trustee, Mr. Templeton is also a trustee of Princeton Theological Seminary and of Englewood Hospital. He is a graduate of Yale, Class of 1934, and took his degree at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.