Investment education is one of the key pillars of strength on which Franklin Templeton has built its success. BENCHMARK talks to Simon Wong, Vice President, Financial Institutions, Franklin Templeton Investments (Asia) Limited to learn why nothing has changed until today.
Investment education is a concept that Franklin Templeton Investment has focused on since 1958. Back then, its president and CEO Charles Johnson introduced the Franklin Almanac, a newsletter that offered insights, advice and explanations to investors. Since then, investment education has become part of the company’s ethos.
“Franklin Templeton Investments has always played a pivotal role in financial adviser education. The launch of the Academy in Asia is the extension of our commitment in investment education to our business partners and investors in Asia,” said Simon Wong, Vice President, Financial Institutions, Franklin Templeton Investments (Asia) Limited.
Building An Academy
Today, the company is continuing its commitment on investment education for its business partners and investors in Asia with the launch of Franklin Templeton Academy.
The Academy began life on modest grounds. It offered educational workshops to financial advisers, and was led by one of the company’s relationship managers on a part-time basis.
Highly positive feedback and strong demand from participants saw the company look at the Academy again. “ It encouraged us to further enhance our effort by employing full-time trainers, focusing on developing training modules on a variety of topics and providing trainings in the region,” said Wong. This expansion of programs continued unabated, and recently saw Franklin Templeton take things one step further – by providing educational services to the general public through partnership. “Such as by partnering with The Wall Street Journal Asia to organize the ‘China Future Leadership Program’, which provided investment knowledge to university students in Hong Kong and China,” added Wong.
Relevance Without Bias
Relevance was a key challenge for Franklin Templeton, especially in financial services where new products, services and knowledge are created quickly. “One of the major challenges at the initial stage, included the development of training modules that fit local needs. Requirements varied from country to country due to differences in market development stage, culture, language, regulatory framework, etc.,” said Wong.
So the company employed trainers on the ground to leverage their knowledge and experience, and developed modules to satisfy local needs. They also worked closely with business partners to modify existing materials, and developed new ones, along with other Academy initiatives.
One of the key reasons for the Academy following its success at the BENCHMARK Wealth Management Awards 2011 was its unbiased approach.
“We are fortunate to reside in a developed market with a wealth of investor education resources available. It is very easy to sign up for one of the many free ‘educational’ programs; however, most of them come with very strong commercial accent,” said Wong.
Instead, the Academy set itself apart by avoiding any direct association with sales or product promotional activities. It is the reason why many of our seminars continue to see high attendance, Wong added.
The strong focus and investments into building the Academy as an education powerhouse has won recognition. In addition to the very positive feedback and awards that we have received over the past years, eight of our modules have been approved by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications for IIQAS Continuing Professional Development Program.
“It is very encouraging to us to have our program recognized by the authority,” said Wong. BM