Sir John Marks Templeton
In 1987, the late Ray A. Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, told the Founder’s Day audience, “Be rich in your heart, in your soul, in your mind, and I’ll guarantee you that if you put that kind of feeling back of it, you’ll be rich in dollars, too.”
It has been the richness of heart and soul and mind that has led to the success of Sir John Marks Templeton. As one writer stated, “Creatively and humbly, he seeks out a positive, inspirational outlook on financial and spiritual matters. His prosperity spills over into many areas, including his Templeton Prize, the largest financial award honoring progress in religion, and in his book, Humble Approach: Scientists Discover God. One obvious, simple factor motivates him to succeed: he wants to help other people.”
Sir John Templeton is a master money manager and a pioneer in the concept of global investment. His formula is simple – find the best bargains and buy when the stocks are selling at a fraction of their value. While that formula is far from unique, Sir John carries it one step further – find those bargains in the world market, not in a single market. His global view has served him well. Between 1966 and 1974 when the Dow Jones Average fell 43 percent, the Templeton Growth Fund rose 129 percent because he had switched into Japanese, Canadian, and German stocks. Another example of the success of his formula is the Templeton Growth Fund, one of several mutual funds bearing Sir John’s name. An investment of $10,000 in 1954 would have given the investor more than $700,000 in profits by 1986, assuming the distributions were reinvested. Sir John simplifies the formula even further by stating, “The secret of our success has to be hard work, plus using common sense to change from those methods which have become too popular to other methods that are not yet quite so well-known.”
Hard work is nothing new to Sir John. He is not the son of a wealthy family. During his second year at Yale, he learned from his father that family funds could no longer assist in his pursuit of a degree. Not to be swayed from his goal, he worked his way through college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He then received a Rhodes Scholarship, enabling him to study at Oxford for two years, receiving his M.A. from Balliol College. Returning to the United States, he moved from Tennessee to New York, working first with Fenner & Beane, one of the predecessors of Merrill Lynch. In 1940, he founded his own investment advisory firm, Templeton, Dobbrow & Vance. That firm grew to manage more than $300 million by the early 1960s. Wall Street could not, however, hold John Templeton, who had wondered for 25 years, “Where is the world would we really want to spend the rest of our lives?” His answer was Lyford Cay in the Bahamas, and it is from there that he operates the Templeton Funds, serving more than 400,000 investors.
The other side of Sir John Templeton is as refreshing as his investment philosophy. A deeply religious man, he says that during the building of his career he became more concerned that the urgent things were squeezing out those that were truly important. Approximately 20 years ago, he promised himself to devote 50 percent of his time working with churches and charities, and the other half managing the investments of his customers. Some years ago, he endowed an annual award for progress in religion which is known as the Templeton Prize. “Alfred Nobel left a blank spot when he wrote his will giving prizes in chemistry, mathematics, and medicine,” says Sir John. “So I started to give an annual prize larger than Nobel because I wanted to say to the world that progress in religion is more important than progress in all other areas combined.” Recipients of the Templeton Prize have included Mother Teresa, Brother Roger of Taize, and Billy Graham. The basic criterion is “original spiritual achievement that increases man’s love and understanding of God.”
For over 30 years, Sir John Templeton’s investment performance has been outstanding. Equally important is the fact that during the same period, his performance as a humanitarian ranks as one of the best public records in the world.