At least one industry voice — a former regulator, no less — is countering the surge of anger that keeps dousing Ken Fisher of $112 billion AUM Fisher Investments after he was criticized on Twitter for comments he made at an industry conference.
In a video tweet, Alex Chalekian, the CEO of $90 million AUM Lake Avenue Financial, described how Fisher, before a private gathering of business leaders, uttered “horrifying” comments referencing genitalia, picking up girls and tripping on acid, the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and “immoral” charities.
Fisher has apologized and argued Chalekian misconstrued the meaning of his words.
That didn’t stop the backlash this past week. Fidelity Investments said it is reviewing its relationship with Fisher Investments. Officials responsible for the state of Michigan’s pension fund criticized Fisher’s comments and withdrew $600 million from Fisher Investments, according to a Washington Post report. Wednesday the City of Boston pulled its $248 million pension mandate, writes Bloomberg. And Thursday members of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension board signaled their readiness to withdraw their $511 million investment, reports Reuters. Tallying the news so far, FA-IQ sister publication FundFire reports that outflows are threatening to pass $1.4 billion.
But Brad Bennett expects the furor will die down.
Bennett, a lawyer currently practicing in Washington, D.C., served as Finra’s chief of enforcement from 2011 to 2017.
“My gut tells me that it’s not going to have a lasting impact, that it is basically a joke went awry, and, you know, an old guy again falling into the trap of not being current on what’s appropriate and not appropriate,” Bennett told FA-IQ.
Fisher Investment’s momentum as a forward-looking investment advisory business model will eventually dwarf the anger expressed at the moment and previously described in FA-IQ.
“You know, Fisher, basically is riding the wave of the future, which is the movement of assets either to self-manage or over to investment advisory accounts. So, I suspect that given the amount of money and the assets gathered he has, there is nobody who is going to decide not to do business with him. He is literally one of the biggest players in the industry. So, barring another flare-up, I don’t think this will have much effect on his business, long term,” Bennett adds.
On LinkedIn, Fisher’s son Nathan Fisher, who works for Fisher Investment’s unit that serves corporate sponsors of retirement plans, defended his well-known dad.
"My father, Ken Fisher, made comments in a recent talk that some have interpreted as sexist, racist, or bigoted. Anyone who knows him personally will agree that he is not even close to any of these things. He is a good person and has apologized for his comments. It saddens me to see him attacked and labeled in these ways. My father’s brain is wired differently from most people’s, and that is part of why he’s been successful at what he does. However, this also means he relates to people differently and doesn’t always interpret social cues in conventional ways. As he has tried to understand how people felt about his comments, I hope others can try to understand that he didn’t mean any harm and has learned from what happened," the younger Fisher writes in his post.
In a straw poll conducted by FA-IQ earlier this week, an overwhelming majority of respondents said Fisher has tarnished his brand with his comments at the Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco Tuesday last week.
As of 4:30 p.m. EST Monday, around 85% of the 71 straw poll respondents said the brand has been tarnished and will cost his company clients. FA-IQ’s readers are largely practitioners in the broker-dealer and investment advisory industry.