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Ken Fisher keeps expanding his $42 billion RIA empire despite UHNW head winds

The big West Coast money manager discusses his growing institutional arm, his biggest competition and his unorthodox management style

Thursday, March 1, 2012 – 4:29 AM by Steve Garmhausen
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Ken Fisher: On the high-net-worth side funding levels are tough.


Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy

March 1, 2012 — 12:13 PM

I have been using Fisher Investments for several years and find the phone contact to be perfect. My Investment Counselor stays in touch and is very knowledgable.

The seminars are wonderful and I make it a point to attend. I know of no other firm that provides the same opportunity to listen, learn and interact with those that are ultimately responsible for my investments. Most recently, Ken Fisher hosted the seminar I attended in Ft. Lauderdale. This type of stuff puts a personal touch to my relationship with Fisher Investments.

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of Fisher Investments! I’m also a huge fan of an employer that takes care of the employees and its obvious that Ken has that at the top of his priority list.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

March 2, 2012 — 6:27 PM

If financial services folks ever wonder if marketing, along with hard core sales as follow-up to the leads generated, works. Fisher has $42B proof points.

Continual self-promotion is a critical part of this — to be noted. It’s an asset gathering machine.

Maria Marsala

Maria Marsala

March 19, 2012 — 8:58 AM

Mr. Fisher. Thank you for your insights.

Nick

Nick

September 2, 2012 — 5:54 PM

I’ve been a client of Fisher’s since early 2008. They put virtually everyone in an all stock portfolio that uses the MSCI as a bench mark. Since early 2008 the Fisher all stock portfolio has not even beat the S&P on an annual basis. Fisher probably works for 80 year clients who don’t understand investing but younger market knowledgable folks probably can easily match or beat Fisher’s results without paying their 1 to 1.5 % management fees. My biggest issue with Fisher is they seem very hesitant to set up a normal income generating portfolio that will pay an income every month. Their answer is just tell us when you need money and we will sell some of your positions. The worst part about the company is Ken’s ego. He really does think he is the smartest person in the business. He apparently did not pull his clients out of the market in 2008 because the last time he did it in 2000 he lost a bunch of clients because he took awhile to get back in the market. Putting one’s business interests ahead of those of your clients is not a good situation when selling ones self as an investment advisor and fiduciary.

Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy

September 2, 2012 — 6:17 PM

Nick,
I can appreciate your point of view but when I decided to go with Fisher several years ago I knew full well what I wanted them to do with my money and they made it perfectly clear how it was going to be invested. Needless to say, Fisher Investments and myself are on the same page.

Also, 4 years is not much of a time frame to pass judgment on a long-term investment portfolio. Give it time.

Additionally, Fisher Investments is always willing to manipulate my portfolio in any manner I instruct them to. They certainly don’t hold your portfolio hostage to their philosophy.

It sounds like your experience with Fisher Investments and my experience with Fisher Investments is 180 degrees out of phase. As is our personal opinion of Ken. I’d recommend reading several of his books if you haven’t already. I believe Ken Fisher forgets more about investing in one day than most people learn in a lifetime.

Just my opinion, but I’m a very satisfied customer of Fisher Investments and plan maintaining the course well into the future.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

September 2, 2012 — 8:30 PM

Ken Fisher is an exceptional marketer. Even more exceptional given the weak marketing in the industry. His approach is neither creative nor original.

We have learned that, generally smaller HNW, investors best respond to the “myth of personality” marketing approach. The investment guru myth is endemic in American culture. Other cultures do not have a strong a myth about individual accomplishment as the US.

The false belief is that an individual portfolio manager can outperform the markets. While the scientific evidence is clear and consistent that this is not true — it is the most widely used marketing and ad strategy. It is also in demand by the media, because it is such a successful, though false, myth.

Fidelity really built its business on this ad strategy using Peter Lynch.

As with all marketing, you get sales by telling people what they already believe, want to hear and what supports their magical beliefs. Con artists do the same — there is research on this as well.

The US asset management’s industry’s celebrity strategy for money managers is probably the most profitable use of the “cult of personality” myths — in the world. Factually, it is a silly superstition.

It is just standard false and mistaken magical thinking. An investor reading more books by a guru is just an attempt to reinforce the sales “religion”/ideology of Fisher Investments — it has no effects on the investor making or losing money, of course.

We can admire good money manager salesmanship and self-promotion while also accepting the claims as false and misleading — which they are in most cases.

Tom

Tom

November 27, 2012 — 6:59 PM

I’ve just became a client of Fisher Investments..I’ve never seen so many different opinions of a firm as I have of Fisher’s.. Hope I did the right thing…I have a hard time believing he could keep 45 billion in assetts under management if he wasn’t doing a good job for investors..I would like to hear from more actual clients about their experiences with Fisher Investments,, Also, from people who have left the firm and their reasons for doing so..You just don’t know who to believe.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

November 27, 2012 — 7:36 PM

Ken is a brilliant marketer and pioneer of consumer marketing in financial services – specifically money management. His tactics were, of course, dismissed. He was a marketing visionary. It has made him incredibly wealthy.

You may want to Google the lawsuits. There have been many.

In terms of what to believe — look for data not anecdotal stories. The data is unanimous that active management delivers no value and large fees erode portfolio value.

How would you pick a doctor for your loved ones?

The best research and facts are on the web and free to all. Before the web, trusting salesmen like Fisher and so called “experts” was the only option. The days of that dependence and restricted information are over.

Celebrity investment marketers typically promise some special skill and knowledge. This has been proven to be false when studies are done.

Tom

Tom

November 27, 2012 — 7:39 PM

Elmer.. Have you or someone you know been a client of Fisher’s?

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

November 27, 2012 — 7:53 PM

Yes, many refugees but OUR lawyers would sue us if we ever disclosed names – even in private. Sarbox has made it impossible for us ever to mention anyone we know, have had as clients, etc. Sorry Fisher is also hyper-litigious.

Again, a web search will get you 80% of what you need. Why Fisher and not a local RIA?

Toml

Toml

November 27, 2012 — 8:08 PM

I’ve searched the web and came up with one lawsuit in 2008 where Fisher lost a case that cost him 300K…Are there any other sites that would have more?? My money is on it’s way to be transferred to Fisher next week.. I’m getting antsy about my decision.. I was with my local bank’s wealth management dept. but was unhappy with the results.. Hope I’m not jumping from the frying pan into the fire..

Lisa Shidler

Lisa Shidler

November 27, 2012 — 8:20 PM

Tom, It’s RIABiz reporter Lisa Shidler. I just tried e-mailing you but the e-mail we had in the system didn’t work. My e-mail is: lisa@riabiz.com If you send me a note directly, I can send you some links from Google searches on this topic.

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

November 27, 2012 — 8:47 PM

Wow, now that’s a valuable service. Thanks Lisa.

Tom, why hurry? Take your time and let your emotions cool a bit. You’re worried. Listen to those feelings. Something is bothering you – respect that. If the sales person is pressuring you — tell them not right now.

Spend some time talking to local accountants and RIAs. Let them take you to lunch. Ask RIABiz if you can blog your experiences and ask the community for advice. “It takes a village.”

You’ve made the first good step – you’ve shared your honest discomfort. Banks may not be sophisticated enough for you.

Tom

Tom

November 27, 2012 — 9:37 PM

Elmer, My money is on it’s way to Fisher.. They said everything should be transferred by next week, Any way to stop it at this point?

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

November 27, 2012 — 10:42 PM

Sure, just tell them to. You shouldn’t be scared of where your money is going – ever.

Brooke Southall

Brooke Southall

December 3, 2012 — 6:00 PM

Hi Tom,

I’d love to debrief you or have you write a blog account of your adventures in finding an advisor. It can be anonymous. It’s extremely helpful for advisors to understand to step into your shoes.

cheers,

Brooke
415-389-8207

Elmer Rich III

Elmer Rich III

December 3, 2012 — 6:46 PM

Tom,

“Give back” and do this. Millions of folks are going thru a process similar to yours. You may get some help as well.

Big Mac

Big Mac

August 22, 2014 — 10:15 PM

Interesting

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