PI Global Investments

Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 16, Jenny Johnson, Franklin Templeton

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Jenny Johnson’s career at Franklin Templeton has spanned over 30 years. During that time, she has held leadership roles in multiple divisions of the global investment firm, including investment management, technology, distribution and operations. In February of 2020, she moved into the top leadership role at the firm – chief executive officer. Only four months later, Franklin Templeton closed its acquisition of Legg Mason – a merger that put the combined organization’s assets under management at over $1.5 trillion.

Since then, Franklin Templeton has acquired O’Shaughnessy Asset Management in September of 2021, and Lexington Partners in November. 

Johnson noted that, following this series of acquisitions, the firm has become one of the largest managers of alternative investments, with a range of strategies that includes real estate, private credit, secondary private equity and co-investments, and hedge fund strategies. “We intend to be on the forefront of offering alternative assets to a broader range of investors, beyond the ultra-wealthy,” she said. 

In the three decades that she has risen up the ranks at Franklin Templeton, Johnson has seen a great deal of progress on the diversity and inclusion front. When she began her career, she said, “there was no such thing as employee diversity training or business resource groups for women to network. Today, these resources have become more common in companies all over the world.” 

There is, of course, more work to be done, she said, and the key is building a diverse pipeline of talent as early as possible. Girls as young as high school age—or even younger—should be encouraged to explore banking and finance as a possibility if they so desire, she added. Still, as things stand now, Johnson said, “I truly believe that this is the best time in history to be a woman in the financial services industry.” 

Outside of the firm, Johnson is an active member of several organizations promoting diversity and inclusion. These include the NYSE Board Advisory Council, which connects diverse board candidates to firms seeking new directors; Black Capital, a fund that invests in underrepresented founders; and Catalyst, a nonprofit focused on workplace inclusion initiatives for women.

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