Long before pensions started pulling money form Fisher Investments in response to lewd public comments by its founder, retail investors complained about the shop’s aggressive sales tactics.
The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from 125 people against Fisher Investments since 2016, Bloomberg writes, citing records released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. And while Vanguard, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab all received more complaints during that period — Vanguard, which had the fewest, received 190 — these firms oversee trillions of dollars while Fisher’s firm manages around $114 billion, the news service writes.
The FTC has received complaints from people in 35 states who said they found Fisher Investments’ sales tactics abusive, excessive or violating the rule barring calls to those on the Do Not Call Registry, according to Bloomberg. Almost 90% of the complaints involved phone calls, with some claiming they were solicited at work, the news service writes.
One prospect from Massachusetts said that on requesting a free brochure Fisher offered on the internet, the firm “follows-up the material relentlessly on a weekly and sometimes daily basis,” according to the complaint cited by Bloomberg. The FTC redacted names and other identifying information out of privacy concerns, the regulator says, according to the news service. Seven of the complaints, meanwhile, were filed under the category “Calls pretending to be government, businesses or family and friend,” Bloomberg writes.
Ken Fisher was outed on Twitter as allegedly making various inappropriate remarks at the Tiburon CEO Summit last month, which led to pension funds and other organizations to withdraw more than $3.3 billion from Fisher Investments. Among Fisher’s comments was one allegedly comparing luring clients to “trying to get into a girl’s pants,” Bloomberg writes.
The FTC tells the news service that the complaints against Fisher Investments hadn’t necessarily been verified, and declined to say whether they were being investigated. The regulator also hasn’t filed any do-not-call cases against the firm, Bloomberg writes. Fisher Investments, meanwhile, hasn’t received any communications about the FTC complaints reported by the news service, a person familiar with Fisher’s operations who asked to remain anonymous tells Bloomberg.
But Fisher’s newly found notoriety, combined with the number of complaints against his firm, may in fact lead the FTC to investigate the company, Mozelle Thompson, who served as an FTC commissioner between 1997 and 2004, tells the news service.
“It seems they would be within the gun sights of the FTC,” he tells Bloomberg.
John Dillard, a senior vice president and director of global public relations at Fisher Investments, tells the news service that the FTC complaints “bear no resemblance to Fisher Investments or its communications with prospective clients.”
“We do not make ‘cold calls,’ and we immediately add individuals to our contact suppression list if they tell us that they do not want us to contact them in the future,” he tells Bloomberg.