Franklin Templeton Investments has named David Smart in a newly created role of global head of sovereign funds and supranationals.

Based in London, Smart is responsible for managing existing sovereign fund relationships as well as expanding Franklin TempletonÆs sovereign funds and supranational client base globally. He reports to California-based Vijay Advani, executive vice-president of Franklin TempletonÆs Global Advisory Services, who oversees both retail and institutional distribution.

ôSovereign funds are one of the fastest growing pools of assets in the world and could rival the total worldwide pool of pension funds in size within five years,ö says Advani.

Franklin Templeton manages and advises on more than $38 billion in sovereign fund and supranational assets worldwide. It has a history of long-term relationships with sovereign funds dating back to the 1970s and with supranationals to the 1950s. The fund house considers relationships a key component of success when working in the sovereign fund area.

Sovereign funds are gaining prominence worldwide, with their clout increasing in line with their rising assets. The 26 sovereign pension funds tracked by Watson Wyatt make up 23% of the assets of the top 300 pension funds worldwide. Eleven of those sovereign pension funds are from Asia-Pacific with combined assets worth $2.8 trillion, up around 16% from 2006.

At present, Franklin Templeton has a team of three people dedicated exclusively to sovereign wealth funds in addition to Smart. The team works with local sales directors in Asia, Latin America, Dubai and other regions and there are plans to hire some more specialists.

Smart and his team will also provide sovereign funds and supranationals with long-term strategic advice on asset allocation and risk management and will ensure resources of the group are effectively channelled.

Smart has been working in the sovereign fund area for more than 20 years.

ôThe growth of sovereign funds, which started in the Middle East in 1953, has become a global phenomenon which has stimulated the need for a dedicated group focused on the specialised needs and requirements of these funds,ö Smart says.

Smart began his career as a fund manager in Baring BrothersÆ international asset management division followed by a similar position with County NatWest Investment Management in London. He joined Fiduciary Trust International in 1988 where he was a managing director responsible for fund management and institutional marketing initiatives in Europe and the Middle East. Following the acquisition of Fiduciary Trust by Franklin Templeton in 2001, Smart was appointed to various boards within Franklin Templeton and transitioned from European managing director to a more specialised institutional role within the larger group over a two-year integration period. Most recently, he was executive vice-president of Franklin Templeton Institutional and head of the Europe, Middle East and Africa sales region.

Franklin Templeton is based in San Mateo in California and manages around $570 billion globally.