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Thursday, June 24, 2021

What Will AI Mean For AM? A Fund Titan's Chief Predicts

Reported by Andrew Lusk, Associate Reporter

"Technology is enabling much greater customization of individual portfolios," said Jenny Johnson, president and CEO of Franklin Templeton, and what's happening in this digital blockchain is going to be disruptive to finance as a whole."

Jennifer M. "Jenny" Johnson
Franklin Resources, Inc. (dba Franklin Templeton)
President, CEO
Johnson spoke yesterday on a webcast for the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA), a trade group for 401(k) plan advisors (KPAs). The webcast, which focused on innovation, featured Johnson and David Musto, the president and CEO of a private equity-backed retirement plan recordkeeper that also works with other types of savings vehicles (like 529s, ABLE accounts, and IRAs). Musto emphasized the "democratization of professional investments" in his comments on innovations taking place in the retirement and financial services industries. (Our sister publication, 401kWire, covered the retirement plan-focused parts of Musto and Johnson's discussion.)

Johnson said that she is looking forward to seeing how artificial intelligence and evolving data collection methods might influence the future of the asset management industry, especially with regard to tokenization.

"In the case of asset management," Johnson adds, "the ability to tokenize illiquid assets takes out the frictional cost of transferring ownership. There are no intermediaries to go through; it's embedded in the blockchain."

She says, "This will unlock a lot of illiquid assets, which is good for the end consumer because they can then access that illiquid premium, which is traditionally reserved for others."

"Tokenization will help facilitate this process. To give an idea," Johnson explains, "imagine selling the Empire State Building, and being able to sell it to one million people and have it all be represented by one million tokens."

"The title of your one-millionth ownership is embedded in that token, so if I wanted to sell it to David, I'd just have to go to an exchange and sell it, not go to a title company."

Johnson adds, "If you think about that ability to put all of those intermediaries and rules into a token, you can truly unlock a lot of these traditionally-alternative, illiquid assets." 

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