First Ken Fisher shocked his audience with sexist and off-color remarks. Then the billionaire said he didn’t understand why.
After stunning the crowd at a San Francisco conference Tuesday by talking about genitalia and likening winning money-management clients to “trying to get into a girl’s pants,” Fisher said he was surprised by how people reacted. He said he’s spoken like that plenty of times in the past.
“I have given a lot of talks, a lot of times, in a lot of places and said stuff like this and never gotten that type of response,” Fisher, 68, said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg, adding he thought his comments were taken out of context. “Mostly the audience understands what I am saying.”
Over the last four decades, Fisher has built a money-management giant that oversees $112 billion, has written 11 books and has been a prolific columnist and commentator. He’s also gained a reputation for being blunt-spoken. Yet in the interview, he expressed some regret and said he’s an “easy guy to dislike” because he manages so much money.
Financial industry executives who attended the event organized by Tiburon Strategic Advisors said they were appalled by Fisher’s remarks. Fisher acknowledged having dropped acid in the past and made a reference to loyal employees being tattooed with his firm’s name — which also struck some listeners as offensive.
“I was floored,” said Rachel Robasciotti, a founder of wealth management firm Robasciotti & Philipson. “For me and some of the women sitting nearby we were kind of in shock. We were like: ‘Wait, did that really just happen?’”
Several others in attendance said they were astounded by the remarks. Consultant Sonya Dreizler said Fisher’s talk was “outrageous.” Alex Chalekian, the founder of Lake Avenue Financial, was so upset he posted a video on Twitter recounting what he heard, calling the remarks “absolutely horrifying.”
The revelations cast a remarkable light on Fisher and the Camas, Washington-based firm that he built into a powerhouse, with offices across the U.S. and Europe. Founded in 1979, Fisher Investments has become a key money manager for 175 institutional clients, as well as high-net-worth individuals.