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Franklin Templeton prioritizes investment education

Korean unit seeks to become ‘Rolex’ of asset management for middle class

Investing in stocks or bonds has long been regarded as a privilege of very few people with the money and knowledge of the ins and outs of Korean markets.

It is still the minority that wins big gains while the majority ― the middle class ― with less money refrains from investing due to fears of losing big in the short term.

The domestic unit of Franklin Templeton Investments, however, seeks to turn this tide so the majority can make gains through education on value and bottom-up investing.

“Like the taste of salt, our philosophy or strategy for our customers has remained the same over the years, and that is ‘have the strong will to invest with patience and a long-term perspective,’” Jeon Yong-bae, president and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investment Trust Management Korea, said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
Jeon Yong-bae
Jeon Yong-bae

Asset allocation, or the principle of putting eggs in a “handful” of baskets, should also be upheld for long-term investments, as has been suggested by investment gurus such as Franklin Templeton cofounder John Templeton and the “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett.

Pursuing such investments is especially important nowadays when most people can no longer rely only on their income from their workplace or pension for retirement, Jeon said.

With about 70 employees with skills in value and bottom-up investment strategy, the Korean unit of Franklin Templeton, a global asset manager that is also one of Korea’s biggest foreign bond investors, believes it is well positioned to provide its long-standing expertise and education to the middle class.

“The Korean subsidiary is a midsize company for mid-class (retail) investors,” Jeon emphasized.

As the first Korean chief executive, Jeon reiterated that his most important mission was providing such education and relaying the undying investment principles of Templeton, as well as those of Buffett, to middle-class Korean investors.

The key to long-term investments for any kind of investor is “not to play God” and not think they can predict all future market movements, Jeon said.

Retail investors do not need to be impatient to buy stocks as equities will not go anywhere but will always be there on the market for investments. As Templeton used to say, the best time to invest is “when they have the money,” the Korean CEO noted.

It does not matter how much, he added. It could be as little as 10,000 won to 100,000 won.

If investors are not comfortable holding onto a stock for more than 10 years, then it is not worth looking at it even for 10 minutes, Jeon said, quoting Buffett.

Jeon believes that as the firm hands down its traditional know-how and other principles of investment to potential investors, both will see “win-win” benefits.

The majority can earn profitable returns and gain confidence after investing for a long time, while the Korean asset management unit will be able to “earn their trust and become a reliable and strong” branded company like Rolex, he said.

“We hope to be the ‘Rolex’ of asset management for our customers in the long run.”

By Park Hyong-ki (
Korea Herald daum