Mutual Fund Giant Franklin Templeton Eyes Bitcoin, Ether Trades With Planned Hires

The $1.5 trillion asset manager is a newcomer to crypto investing despite years of experimenting with blockchain tech.

Sep 1, 2021 at 6:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 1, 2021 at 6:55 p.m. UTC

Asset manager Franklin Templeton is staffing up to execute trades for bitcoin and ether, according to a series of job postings.

At least two crypto-focused jobs posted this week – one trader, one researcher – would join the “growing” investments team within Franklin Templeton’s Digital Assets Management division, the listings said.

“We are looking for a Crypto Currency [sic] Trader to execute trades for several strategies using the largest, most liquid listed and tradable crypto assets (e.g., BTC, ETH, etc.),” read one.

The twin gigs, which appear to mark Franklin Templeton’s first foray into bitcoin, highlight the $1.5 trillion firm’s newfound interest in crypto as an investable asset class. In late July, it backed a Galaxy Digital fund of funds that chases venture opportunities in the crypto economy.

Franklin Templeton’s planned crypto hires are far more direct, however. The roles will be tasked with executing crypto strategies, building relationships with blockchain developer communities and creating new crypto products for the mutual fund issuer and money manager.

It’s not entirely clear if Franklin Templeton’s crypto trading will be directly involved with the coins. The trading gig calls for experience in derivatives and futures markets, which could indicate a focus on trading regulated bitcoin and ether contracts – as other investment firms have done.

Franklin Templeton did not return multiple requests for comment.

The asset manager has toyed with blockchain tech since at least mid-2019, mostly as a novel feature to spice up plain-vanilla money market funds. It has also experimented with share tokenization and last year joined custodian firm Curv’s $23 million Series A.

Leadership remained skeptical of cryptocurrency as an investment through this year. In March, Chief Market Strategist Stephen Dover told the Financial Review that Franklin Templeton held no cryptocurrencies in any portfolio. CEO Jennifer Johnson said she was “no fan” of bitcoin during an earnings call in May.

Franklin Templeton Chief Financial Officer Matthew Nicholls struck a more moderate tone at the time: He told analysts the firm was “focused” on getting ready for crypto.

“Having the capability to field, let’s call it, digital assets, in general, is going to probably be important for the future,” he said.

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Danny is a business reporter at CoinDesk.