About two months after investment advisor Ken Fisher made crude remarks at an industry event in the United States, there’s news that Fisher Investment’s office in the United Kingdom has been the scene of bad behavior.
The firm has about 6,000 British clients and an office in London.
One former advisor, who spent five years with Fisher Investments UK, told The Telegraph that Fisher spoke about sex and compared bringing on a new client to getting sexually aroused at a conference there.
Another ex-Fisher employee in London described the office as “like the Wolf of Whitfield Street,” referring to the racy film about brokers in the ‘90s – “The Wolf of Wall Street,” according to the paper.
Former staff there says its environment is “bullying, intimidating, [and] controlling,” and that its financial advisors – referred to as outside sales persons – find themselves pushed extremely hard to reach certain performance targets, The Telegraph reported.
Such behavior was highlighted at Fisher’s U.S. operations in October by Bloomberg. “I thought Fisher was my dream job,’’ said Nick Morrison, who joined the firm near Vancouver, Washington, in 2011, and left the following year. “From the very first day, it was just a nightmare.”
A spokesperson for Fisher UK told The Telegraph: “We pride ourselves on having a good firm culture. We simply do not recognize this description and account of our UK business.”
A day or so after news broke about his crude comments in early October, Fisher said in a statement: “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.”
A recent ThinkAdvisor poll found that 70% of respondents believe the remarks were “sexist and highly inappropriate.” And 86% view the withdrawal of assets from Fisher Investments as “an appropriate response.
As for investment performance, Fisher’s Purisima Global Total Return fund OEIC has been taken to task by Robin Powell, a journalist and head of the UK-based website The Evidence-Based Investor.
(British clients must have £250,000 or more in order to invest in Purisma.)
“Over the 17 years and three months it has so far been in existence, the Purisima fund has returned 180.75%,” Powell wrote online in October. “The MSCI World Index has returned 253.63%. To put in another way, Fisher hasn’t just been beaten by the market; he’s been absolutely thrashed by it.”
Fisher UK’s spokesperson, though, told the paper that its fund has beaten world stocks and the FTSE All-share index in 2019 and during the last three years. The firm also help clients keep investments in cash or fixed-interest assets “tailored to their needs and goals.”