This is an extended version of the profile that appeared in the May issue of Investment Advisor, part of AdvisorOne's Special Report profiling this year's members of the IA 25, the most influential people in and around the advisor universe. See the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles of all the 2011 members of the IA 25.
As the founder, CEO and chief investment officer of Fisher Investments, Ken Fisher is known for his investment savvy. But Fisher, who is also a long-time Forbes columnist and author of many books on investing, is well known for building his firm into a powerhouse registered investment advisor with $44 billion in assets under management.
Founded in 1979, Fisher Investments has 1,150 employees, 25,000 clients,and offices based in Woodside, Calif., and London. Fisher has built the privately held firm to this size by doing well for clients, to be sure, but there are other elements to Fisher’s success that smaller independent firms may learn from.
How do clients know about the independent when larger broker-dealers have the advantage of scale and advertising? There are, says Fisher, “only so many levers you can pull. Obviously the little guy can’t pull the lever the wirehouse can, which is lots of indirect marketing—they can’t saturate the TV. [What] the little guy can do as he or she grows, is provide focused service, which the wirehouse broker really can't. The wirehouse broker is a salesperson—not really a service person,” Fisher explains.
“Another is to push the technology lever hard—technology is really the great equalizer between small firms and big firms,” he says. Small firms “can use technology to look and feel as if they already had a brand.”