Some three weeks after making lewd remarks at an industry event, Ken Fisher continues to see redemptions from his firm, Fisher Investments. The firm is also making headlines for client complaints to regulators over its aggressive sales tactics.
Fisher’s latest response — a full-page ad in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News, showcasing women who work for the firm — is unlikely to help its image or loss of assets, though, according to communications veterans. (The ads have run on Nov.1 and Nov. 5 in these papers.)
“These ads and PR campaign seem to speak to what it is like to work at Fisher Investments rather than address the original issue,” said April Rudin of the Rudin Group.
The full-page ad “looks tremendously ‘defensive’ and certainly not offensive (i.e., ‘Ken won’t be involved day-to-day at the firm’ or ‘our ownership structure has changed’), so it seems completely disconnected from the matter at hand,” Rudin explained.
Overall, the latest step by Fisher “seems like a tone-deaf attempt at damage control,” she said.
It may even make matters worse, according to the public-relations executive, by not directly addressing his crude comments. The ad “holds out those women at his firm as somehow being able to nullify his remarks and also gives the impression that he’s using the women at his own firm to protect himself,” explained Rudin.
The general message of the ad, she points out, is that Fisher “is digging in his heels and solidifying his reputation as someone who is unable to hear women’s concerns with his behavior.”
For its part, the firm said in a statement: “Their words speak for themselves. In recent weeks, women at all levels of Fisher Investments have expressed their growing frustration with the false portrayal of the company and its culture in the media, and they were looking for a way to share their own stories, which they feel are being ignored.”
The firm has about 3,500 employees, 30% of whom are women.