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Boston Pension Board Pulls $248M From Fisher: Report

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The Boston Pension Board is yanking $248 million from Fisher Investments, about a week after Chairman Ken Fisher made crude remarks at an industry event, according to a report. 

“Boston will not invest in companies led by people who treat women like commodities,” Mayor Martin Walsh said in a statement Wednesday shared with Bloomberg. “Reports of Ken Fisher’s comments and poor judgment are incredibly disturbing.”

The move brings the total to $902 million in redemptions since Fisher made lewd comments at the Tiburon CEO Summit on Oct. 8. The firm’s total asset level is roughly $114 billion.

The news comes a few days after after Michigan’s pension fund said it would pull $600 million in assets from Fisher Investments and the Philadelphia Board of Pensions decided to divest $54 million to “protect the assets of the fund from the consequences of Mr. Fisher’s inappropriate comments.”

On Tuesday, Fidelity Investments said: “We do not tolerate these types of comments at our company and Fidelity Strategic Advisers is reviewing this relationship,” Bloomberg reported. Fidelity Strategic Advisers oversees managed accounts and lists Fisher as a $500 million sub-advisor for its $8 billion Small-Mid Cap Fund.

Florida’s pension fund is also looking into its relationship with Fisher Investments.

On Friday, Michigan Chief Investment Officer Jon Braeutigam said in a letter: “All were in unanimous agreement that prompt termination is the correct course of action. There is no excuse to not treat everyone with dignity and respect. We have high expectations of our managers (and staff), not just with regards to returns but also in how they exhibit integrity and respect to all individuals.”

Also in the letter, Braeutigam said that while Fisher Investments’ “performance has been good (beating the S&P 1500). …, this history does not outweigh the inappropriateness of the comments made by the founder.”

Conference Conduct

On the morning of Oct. 9, Tiburon summit attendee and advisor Alex Chalekian posted a video on Twitter criticizing Fisher’s remarks. It has more than 145,000 views.

Afterward, Fisher questioned the negative attention his comments were receiving, before apologizing. He has been barred from future events organized by Tiburon Strategic Advisors.

“Some of the words and phrases I used during a recent conference to make certain points were clearly wrong and I shouldn’t have made them. I realize this kind of language has no place in our company or industry.  I sincerely apologize,” Fisher said in a statement on Oct. 10.

The following day, the firm he leads launched a diversity and inclusion committee. “This is a priority of mine as CEO and with this task force, I am making it a priority at the firm,” Damian Ornani told Fisher Investments’ employees in a memo shared with ThinkAdvisor.  

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