Forbes published its 50 Over 50 list for 2023 on August 1, 2023. Forbes solicited nominations online and a panel of 12 expert judges decided the top 50 from 200 semifinalists. For the details of this list, including the assessment methodology and judging criteria, please refer to the official award website: https://www.forbes.com/50over50/. Franklin Templeton did not pay an entry fee for the award.
Q: How did you come to work in the asset management industry?
A: I started out as a wire service reporter at Commodity News Service, which Knight-Ridder Financial News subsequently purchased. I wrote outlook columns on the commodity markets. After writing these articles for several months, I started telling my sources that I thought their interpretation of the markets was wrong and that they were not thinking through the implications of their arguments. They told me I was too opinionated to be a reporter and one of them got me an interview to become a commodity markets analyst. I got the job—and the rest is history.
Q: Where did you work prior to Franklin Templeton?
A: I started at Citi in 1985 as a futures research analyst covering the soft commodities markets with its predecessor firm, Shearson Lehman Brothers. Then I joined Commodities Corporation/Goldman Sachs Asset Management in 1995 as a Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) and portfolio manager. After managing money for nearly six years, I shifted my attention to consulting and led the strategy practice within the financial services division of capital markets niche management consulting firm Scient.
I rejoined Citi in 2009, where I served as managing director and global head of business advisory services (BAS). I launched and built the company’s BAS practice, which is a market-leading provider of industry thought leadership spanning Citi’s markets and global wealth organizations. BAS addresses industry trends, including the integration of active and passive investing techniques, emergence of beta strategies and solutions, use of factor analysis, rise of environmental, social and governance, importance of people alpha, and embrace of digital assets and tokenization.
Q: You joined Franklin Templeton last year; what attracted you to the firm?
A: Based on the industry research I’ve done over the past several years, I believe there’s only going to be a handful of large asset management firms that exist in the future. I believe Franklin Templeton is going to be one of them. I was attracted by Jenny’s leadership and vision for the firm. I was also excited by Franklin Templeton’s leadership position in the digital assets space, as well as in digital wealth tools and fintech. I don’t think it was widely recognized when I joined the firm a year ago, but that is changing very quickly!
Q: How do you catalyze change in an organization?
A: First you have to lay out a vision, and that vision has to be based on changes that people sense are happening around them. The vision has to make sense to people in terms of why the organization needs to change to remain competitive. The reasons can stem from technology, competitors doing something different, shifting demand or changing regulation, among other things, but there is usually something driving an organization’s need to change. And you can only catalyze change when people in an organization are given a vision and a reason why things need to change. Then you need consistent and vocal top-down communication, which can then be followed by bottom-up planning.
Q: How did you come to focus your career on being a futurist?
A: I actually got into it in a very haphazard way. I was working at a prime brokerage unit and was writing about how the hedge fund industry was undergoing such a massive period of change after the 2008 financial crisis. The crisis brought to light that there were a lot of hedge funds that did not put good controls into place, and that had assets in their portfolio that should not have been there. There were also a lot of concerns about the stability and long-term viability of the hedge fund industry. What came out of that is that we saw a huge institutionalization and professionalization of the hedge fund industry.
So, I began creating thought leadership for hedge funds on this new demand for operational due diligence, operational excellence and professional management, and how that was really going to help to emphasize a new stage in the development of hedge funds. I wrote about where the hedge fund industry was going—hedge funds had started to expand both into liquid alternatives and into private assets. I ended up writing not just about the hedge fund industry, but about the entire asset management industry. And as those trends came to light, I really started to see that there was not just the evolution that was happening in the industry, but there was a real revolution beginning to emerge in digital assets. As the years went on, my interest moved more and more into this new digital asset space.
Q: What industry trends excite you the most?
A: I am excited about the alternatives space. A lot of the best return potential has migrated from the public markets into the private markets, and that is an exciting trend in the world of finance right now. We have seen a contraction in the number of public companies in the United States and other developed countries. Fewer companies are going public, and many companies are going public much later in their development cycle—not to raise capital, but to monetize their employee and founder capital. So, I think there has been this ongoing issue of how to create portfolios for individuals to better reflect those alternative investments. That is what my original vision was all about—the tokenization potential of real assets and of private funds so that individuals could start to have these exposures in their portfolios. And then when I started to understand the potential of smart contracts and the ability to bestow utilization rights, property rights, copyrights and usage rights in an asset, I became very excited by the idea that an investment portfolio can enrich people’s lives. I think that the utility of the investment portfolio is going to become a very important part of how we all live as individuals in the future.
Q: We have heard you are a fan of the grunge-rock group Pearl Jam. Tell us more about that, and how they are an example of new investment frontiers.
A: I am going to date myself here, but I was watching “MTV Unplugged” and saw them perform “Black” and was blown away by how good the performance was. I had missed the name of the band, and it was the first time I had ever gone on the internet to research the MTV schedule to figure out who it was because I thought they were so good. This was when researching via the internet was actually a lot of work, absent the search engines and speed we have today. At this point, I think I have been to nine or 10 Pearl Jam concerts.
As far as new investment frontiers, contracts that are part of new tokens can contain different kinds of rights. With Pearl Jam as an example,1 if Pearl Jam issues a non-fungible token (NFT) for their new album, an investor can buy that NFT, and maybe get access to the album early. Or maybe the band plans to attach 5% of the royalties they are going to get for that album and give that pool of royalties to the holders of their NFTs. So, an investor can get income and special perks or rights, such as two free Pearl Jam concert tickets a year. That is a great asset as far as I am concerned. I would love that kind of asset.
Q: What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?
A: I am super competitive and love playing Scrabble with friends. When I need time to myself, I love to find a nice comfortable chair and knit—alas, badly. I love traveling and am lucky to have traveled across the world for work and for leisure. Some of my all-time favorite places are Bali, Tahiti and the Maldives. I am a foodie and love having access to the farms and vineyards on the North Fork in Long Island, where I have my summer house. I fell in love with the area, bought a house there during the pandemic, and have since loved the lifestyle. I also started a new adventure last fall. I moved to New Hope in Pennsylvania—a beautiful colonial town right on the Delaware River where George Washington ran the American Revolutionary War. It is a fun, funky little town that reminds me of Greenwich Village in New York.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. The value of investments can go down as well as up, and investors may not get back the full amount invested.
Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions.
Investments in fast-growing industries like the technology sector (which historically has been volatile) could result in increased price fluctuation, especially over the short term, due to the rapid pace of product change and development and changes in government regulation of companies emphasizing scientific or technological advancement or regulatory approval for new drugs and medical instruments.
Buying and using blockchain-enabled digital currency carries risks, including the loss of principal. Speculative trading in bitcoins and other forms of cryptocurrencies, many of which have exhibited extreme price volatility, carries significant risk. Among other risks, interactions with companies claiming to offer cryptocurrency payment platforms or other cryptocurrency-related products and services may expose users to fraud. Blockchain technology is a new and relatively untested technology and may never be implemented to a scale that provides identifiable benefits. Investing in cryptocurrencies and ICOs is highly speculative and an investor can lose the entire amount of their investment. If a cryptocurrency is deemed a security, it may be deemed to violate federal securities laws. There may be a limited or no secondary market for cryptocurrencies.
The opinions are intended solely to provide insight into how securities are analyzed. The information provided is not a recommendation or individual investment advice for any particular security, strategy, or investment product and is not an indication of the trading intent of any Franklin Templeton managed portfolio. This is not a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any industry, security or investment and should not be viewed as an investment recommendation. This is intended to provide insight into the portfolio selection and research process. Factual statements are taken from sources considered reliable but have not been independently verified for completeness or accuracy. These opinions may not be relied upon as investment advice or as an offer for any particular security.
Any companies and/or case studies referenced herein are used solely for illustrative purposes; any investment may or may not be currently held by any portfolio advised by Franklin Templeton. The information provided is not a recommendation or individual investment advice for any particular security, strategy, or investment product and is not an indication of the trading intent of any Franklin Templeton managed portfolio.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION
This material is intended to be of general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax advice. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Franklin Templeton.
The views expressed are those of the investment manager and the comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as at publication date and may change without notice. The underlying assumptions and these views are subject to change based on market and other conditions and may differ from other portfolio managers or of the firm as a whole. The information provided in this material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region or market. There is no assurance that any prediction, projection or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market or the economic trends of the markets will be realized. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. Past performance is not necessarily indicative nor a guarantee of future performance. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal.
Any research and analysis contained in this material has been procured by Franklin Templeton for its own purposes and may be acted upon in that connection and, as such, is provided to you incidentally. Data from third party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and Franklin Templeton (“FT”) has not independently verified, validated or audited such data. Although information has been obtained from sources that Franklin Templeton believes to be reliable, no guarantee can be given as to its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed and may be subject to change at any time without notice. The mention of any individual securities should neither constitute nor be construed as a recommendation to purchase, hold or sell any securities, and the information provided regarding such individual securities (if any) is not a sufficient basis upon which to make an investment decision. FT accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from use of this information and reliance upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user.
Products, services and information may not be available in all jurisdictions and are offered outside the U.S. by other FT affiliates and/or their distributors as local laws and regulation permits. Please consult your own financial professional or Franklin Templeton institutional contact for further information on availability of products and services in your jurisdiction.
1. For Illustrative Purposes Only. Theoretical concepts and assumptions discussed may not come to fruition, and any investment strategies referenced may or may not have future successes. Investors should be prepared for potential losses as well as the possibility of investment gains. Ideas, products, companies, themes or entire asset classes with positive attributes are not indicative of future results. Discussions should not be regarded as any type of trading recommendation, or as a signal about any past, current or future trading activity in any fund or strategy, by Franklin Templeton and its affiliates.