The response to crude remarks by investment advisor Ken Fisher this week are being viewed as a watershed moment by many industry participants. Now the focus is turning to what impact the outcry will have going forward.
At least one CEO is asking for a code of conduct at industry events, while others are saying the industry should use this as an opportunity for change that can bring more women, younger individuals and others to its ranks.
Cambridge Investment Research President and CEO Amy Webber says that while she hasn’t seen such “blatant[ly] inappropriate, disrespectful behavior” in her 32 years in the business, “at the very least [Fisher’s recent comments] should be a turning point to bring awareness to the reality that it does happen at should not be tolerated at any level, on or off the record.”
Webber explains that, although she was not at the Tiburon CEO Summit this week where Fisher made his lewd remarks, she believes that “not only should there be a professional code of conduct and a culture of inclusion at all industry events, those policies have to be enforced and honored,” according to a statement.
The executive adds that such policies should include “organizers, moderators and attendees.” Furthermore, “We must get to a point where this industry, male dominated or not, carries a culture of respect,” Webber said.
Is this week’s callout of Fisher’s comments — in a video made by advisor Alex Chalekian — a watershed for the industry?
“Yes,” said Marci Bair, president of Bair Financial Planning. “It sparked enough interest and conversation that hopefully it’s not just a two-day event.”
What’s changed? “This is the first public acknowledgement of the behavior of someone … in financial services who’s that well known and that high profile,” Bair said.
“Today, with social media, it’s easy to put something out there — which Ken Fisher and others need to be aware of,” the certified financial planner added.
“I hope it is a turning point in financial services, so that advisors and others will think before they speak,” Bair said. “And as we put together conferences and invitations we will vet [speakers] better and have more diversity and inclusion of those we ask to speak.”
Though Fisher has apologized for causing offense, “He also was like, ‘I always talk this way. What’s the big deal?” she noted.
(“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 told Bloomberg. “Mostly the audience understands what I am saying.”)
But the video criticizing his remarks — which has been viewed about 134,000 times on Twitter this week — “shows the changing of advisors’ attitudes,” Bair said.