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Dec. 10, 2019

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Exodus from Fisher Investments nears $1.7 billion as Fidelity severs ties

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Published: October 21, 2019, 3:08pm

Fisher Investments lost another $500 million in funds Monday as the fallout continued from vulgar comments by the Camas firm’s chairman.

Fidelity Investments said Monday it is pulling its $500 million from Camas-based Fisher. Public and private investment funds have withdrawn $1.69 billion from the firm since Chairman Ken Fisher made a string of vulgar comments at a San Francisco investment conference earlier this month.

Fisher has apologized for his comments, but investors were appalled.

“The views he expressed do not align in any way with our company’s values. We do not tolerate these types of comments at our company,” Fidelity said last week, when it said it was reconsidering its relationship with Fisher. Fidelity said Monday it has now reallocated assets previously managed by Fisher.

The controversy flared when attendees at the investment conference described sexist comments Fisher made during a fireside chat. They said he described the process of winning a client’s trust to “trying to get into a girl’s pants” and that he made other references to sexual misconduct, genitalia and drug use.

Attendees said the comments exacerbated a perception that the financial services industry is hostile to women and others from underrepresented groups.

Fisher claims to manage nearly $100 billion in investment funds for wealthy and institutional investors, so this month’s pullback represents a small portion of the firm’s total business. It does, though, underscore deep concern about the firm and its chairman.

Michigan pulled $600 million in retirement investments from Fisher soon after the comments became public. Others that have withdrawn funds include Iowa’s public retirement fund and the pension funds in Boston and Philadelphia.

The Oregon State Treasury says it does not invest with Fisher and has no record of ever having done so in the past.

Fisher has apologized publicly and in emails to his Camas staff, in which he said “some of the words and phrases I used to make certain points were unnecessary, inappropriate, and have no place in our company, industry, or society.”

Fisher Investments employs 3,500, about half of them at its Camas headquarters. The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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