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Sir John Templeton - Mutual Fund Maverick

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One of the few Americans to ever be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England, Sir John Templeton is looked upon today as the inventor of mutual funds. He has been called the ‘greatest global stock picker of the century’ by Money Magazine and while he has retired from active trading, he still is very active in other business ventures.


John Templeton was born in Winchester, Tennessee in 1912 to a poor family. He was lucky enough to earn a scholarship to Yale University and in 1934 he graduated with an economics degree and at the top of his class. As a Rhodes Scholar he studied law in Oxford, England, returning to the United States in 1936 with his masters. His first job was with Fenner & Beane, the company that later became Merrill Lynch.

During the deepest days of the Depression, Templeton became the co-founder of Templeton, Dobbrow & Vance in 1937. In less the twenty years, the company grew and prospered with $300 million in assets. They had eight mutual funds in their care. In 1954 Templeton opted to start the Templeton Growth Fun which is based in the Bahamas. In 1962 he sold his share of the company.

Templeton continued trading and investing for the next 25 years. He was the mastermind behind many of the most successful investment funds throughout the world. He sold the Templeton funds in 1992 and upon his retirement he became a philanthropist focusing on spiritual and scientific research.

Claim to Fame

The claim to fame for John Templeton was his miraculous growth of stocks during 1939. He took a chance and purchased $100 worth of stock for every stock that was trading below $1 on the American and New stock exchange, giving him 104 companies that were considered junk. 34 of the companies had filed for bankruptcy. In four years, Templeton turned the stocks around and in 1943 sold the stocks for over $40,000.

He is also considered the pioneer of globally diversified mutual funds with his own Templeton World Fund leading the pack. He posted a 13.8% annual average return between 1954 and 2004 on his Templeton Growth Fund, posting ahead of the 11.1% of Standard & Poor’s.

Why was he successful?

Templeton was not afraid to take a chance on stocks that he considered bargains, namely those that were neglected by everyone else. He purchased stocks for pennies during the Depression and then sold them for high dollars when the Internet boom hit. He made a living looking for international companies around the world that sold their stocks for low but offered a long term outlook that was good.


Sir John Templeton is the author of the following investment books:

  • Spiritual Investments: Wall Street Wisdom From The Career Of Sir John Templeton" by Gary D. Moore (1998)
  • Golden Nuggets From Sir John Templeton" by John Templeton(1997)
  • 21 Steps To Personal Success And Real Happiness" by John Marks Templeton and James Ellison (1992)
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