Franklin Templeton Team Continues Travels with Visit to Istanbul

Team Franklin Templeton is traveling through the Middle East and Eastern Europe working with Franklin Templeton, a global money manager, on a project to help better understand the business opportunities throughout their “CEEMEA” region (Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East, & Africa), and to provide a go-forward recommendation for business penetration in Israel and Turkey.

Following our 9-day visit to Israel, the Franklin Templeton IBD team traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, where we met two new business representatives who cover the region.  Our first three days in Istanbul were jam-packed as we met with financial regulators, banks, pension funds, and independent advisors.  Similar to Israel, the people here have all been so welcoming, generous with their time, and excited to speak about the opportunities they see in Turkey, one of the most exciting and fastest-growing markets in the world.

Even before we landed, it started to become clear that Turkey is a huge opportunity, in both scale and scope.  Our flight into the city gave us the first glimpse of Istanbul’s sheer size (over 13mm and growing).

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Our flight took us over the heart of Istanbul and the Bosphorus – the strait that divides the European and Asian sides of the city, and one of the world’s busiest waterways

After 2 days on-the-ground, and with 8 meetings under our belt, we were in agreement that this market is ready for FT’s full attention.  Our interview questions thus shifted away from “market opportunity” and towards “market penetration” as we started to learn more about regulatory licensing, personnel, corporate structure, and capital adequacy requirements, should FT execute a local-presence plan.

Despite an intense schedule of meetings, the team was also able to appreciate some of the sights and sounds that make this such a remarkable and vibrant city.  We took a half day on Saturday to explore some of the most famous areas of Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque from afar

The Blue Mosque from afar

Inside of The Blue Mosque

Inside of The Blue Mosque

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Picture inside the Hagia Sophia

We were also afforded the opportunity to taste some of the local cuisine, set amidst some of the most beautiful hillsides and waterways we have seen during our travels.

Our first evening in Istanbul, hilltop restaurant along the Bosphorus.

Our first evening in Istanbul, hilltop restaurant along the Bosphorus

Team dinner after our final meeting.

Team dinner after our final meeting

During our project work we were reminded how global the Haas and IBD network truly stretches, as our group ran across our own Dean Lyons in our hotel!  The Dean was visiting Istanbul to host an event for alumni and local business/education representatives about Innovative Leadership.   We were invited to attend and, as always, Dean Lyons’ speech was inspirational and brilliantly said.  We all really enjoyed being able to hear his thoughts and meet fellow Haas alum 6,500+ miles from Berkeley.

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Dean Lyons presenting on Innovative Leadership

Even on the streets of Istanbul, we found locals wearing shirts and hats that reminded us of home.

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Prior to our final meeting in Istanbul, we found a local security guard in a not-so-official security uniform

Ultimately, our mandate in Istanbul is to provide a recommendation of whether (and how) to enter the local asset management market.  As part of our project, we are to consider both the economic, political and socio-economic conditions of both Turkey and the 100 other countries in the CEEMEA region for Franklin Templeton.

While in Turkey, we were witness to a bit of the recent political unrest, a condition that has been absent for many years.  In seeing the citizens’ demonstrations against certain restrictive government policies, we were reminded that the business opportunities that come from entering an emerging market also come with a set of risks.  These risks are different in each of the countries we are evaluating, but are at the heart of what justifies our project.  Naturally this makes providing a thoughtful recommendation critical, and uniquely challenging, for each market.

The city center where citizens congregated to protest select government policies

The city center where citizens congregated to protest select government policies

Ultimately, our group is very excited about the opportunities we found here in Turkey.  As we work toward our final presentation, to be delivered on Thursday to FT’s local executives in Dubai, we must develop a thorough and high-impact recommendation.  Our presentation will help position FT in this rapidly growing economy and pave the way for FT to be a market-leading money manager as Turkey’s global economic position continues to rise.