News > Lifestyle, 4:01

Character traits of the great investor Sir John Templeton

By Advisor Perspectives
Lifestyle, 4:01

Recognized as one of the greatest mutual fund managers of the last hundred years, I first discovered his wisdom shortly after I entered the business of investment advice. His name surfaced during my self-directed research into the wisdom of Benjamin Graham and value investing. Sir John was a student of Graham. Although his investment approach differed from Graham’s, he shared the universal belief of all value investors that market prices vary from business value. While Sir John provided insight into security selection, it was how he lived his life and shared his beliefs with others that I believe made him a great individual and a great investor.

In The Templeton Touch, William Proctor shared fourteen character traits that he believed were John Templeton’s reasons for success as an investment manager:

Reasonable risk-taking
A sense of stewardship
A drive toward diversity
A bargain-hunting mentality
A broad social and political awareness
A willingness to devote large quantities of time to studying potential investments and developing sound moneymaking strategies
An ability to “retreat” periodically from daily pressures
An ability to develop an extensive friendship network
Thought control
Positive thinking

I want to share my own thoughts on two of these traits. First, stewardship, as there is an attempt by the Department of Labor to somehow legally enforce it upon the investment industry, and second, a bargain-hunting mentality.

Stewardship The Department of Labor (DOL) has recently proposed a change in the way brokers, insurance agents, and investment advisors serve their clients. The DOL, along with the current administration, is under the belief that the financial service industry’s sales practices, products, and costs are harming individual investors. Although I am in agreement with many of their claims, I do not think that imposing a series of new rules and regulations will result in achieving a better retirement for the citizens of this country. It will take more than a forced fiduciary rule to accomplish that. Even with rules, there will always be individuals who lack any sense of stewardship towards their clients. For those few, the only reason to be in the business of advice will be to create personal wealth for themselves. Individuals will always need to keep their guard up when it comes to investment advice.

We believe it is a great privilege to have been entrusted with the management of your savings. We have a great respect for what those savings represent, and we hope that our work rewards you with preservation of capital and, more importantly, preservation of wealth. Although we work towards that goal, there is no assurance that it will happen. Years ago one of our clients decided his investment returns would be substantially better with another advisor. I am not sure if his results were what he expected, but some years later he decided to re-employ us. He told us this was because we always did what we said we would do and, in his words, “always told the truth, good or bad.” I can pledge to you that this will continue in the future, with or without a new series of rules placed on us by the powers that be.

Bargain-hunting Over the past year we have mentioned more than once that we believe prices for common stocks have not been cheap. They were not overly expensive, but still not cheap enough for us to fully invest your accounts. Because of our belief in buying great companies at low prices, we have held far more cash in our portfolios than we have at any other time in the past ten years. This current decline in pr

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