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News / Business / Clark County Business

Fisher issues open letter apologizing for vulgar remarks

Billionaire writes comments at conference don't reflect his values

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: October 25, 2019, 7:33pm

Camas billionaire Ken Fisher issued an open letter of apology Friday, two weeks after media reports surfaced about vulgar comments he made to a group of wealthy investors at a San Francisco conference.

Fisher is the founder of Fisher Investments, which with 1,750 local employees is Clark County’s largest private employer.

In his letter, Fisher addressed the more than $3.1 billion that investors have pulled out of his firm this month and said his firm is still growing.

His trouble began with remarks he made Oct. 8 at an “off-the-record,” invitation-only conference. Attendees said he compared his wealth management strategy to picking up women for sex, spoke of doing acid and his belief that charities are immoral. He also made crude comments about genitalia, attendees at the Tiburon CEO Summit said, and mentioned financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges earlier this year before dying by suicide in prison.

On Friday, he was much more contrite, though he also blamed news media coverage of the story for part of his woes.

“It is unfortunate but inevitable that recent national news stories about me and Fisher Investments cause some concern in our community,” he said.

“I made some inappropriate remarks at a conference that do not reflect any values I have or have ever had. I apologized for those. I apologize to you for those. They will not reoccur again ever in any form. Since then media has rippled from that. People will naturally wonder about the impact of my clumsy and inappropriate remarks as these stories swirl – and worry not only about impact on Fisher Investments and its employees but also on our family, friends and neighbors in Camas.”

Fisher goes on to say that the firm, which managed approximately $112 billion in September, is “continuing to grow despite these stories,” and that hiring and construction of new office space will continue.

Fisher said that “the withdrawal of several billion dollars … does not reflect a firm, in our instance, that has any sustainability problem. We continue growing as a firm.”

“In fact, we have more assets under management today than we did before the headlines began. We have no long-term debt and a strong financial position by any standard.”

Fisher said CEO Damian Ornani wrote to employees on Friday informing them the withdrawals by various pension funds and other institutional investors will not result in any layoffs. He explained that the withdrawals are occurring in only one segment of the investment company’s business, one that accounts for only about 9 percent of the firm’s revenue.

Fisher Investments was founded in 1979 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company opened a Vancouver office in 2007 and opened what became its headquarters in Camas in 2011.