A well-known investor so scandalized attendees at a high-profile financial industry event with sexually offensive comments that several of them broke non-disclosure agreements they signed to attend in order to speak out.
Initially, Ken Fisher, who founded the wealth management firm that bears his name, says he didn’t understand what the fuss was about, but as media attention remained trained on the matter, Fisher issued apologies.
Fisher, who founded Fisher Investments in 1979 and now manages $112 billion, was interviewed in a fireside chat at the Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco Tuesday. According to media reports, Fisher told the crowd that winning clients was like “trying to get into a girl’s pants,” among other things.
Early Wednesday, Alex Chalekian, who runs a smaller wealth management shop known as Lake Avenue Financial, posted a video about the encounter on Twitter.
Other conference participants confirmed Chalekian’s account.
Sonya Dreizler, founder of an impact-investing consulting firm called Solutions With Sonya, told industry publication ThinkAdvisor that Chalekian’s comments were correct.
“The conference content is supposed to be kept private, so that CEOs can be candid about internal business opportunities and challenges,” Dreizler said. “Since this content is not about business issues, I’m choosing to break that code of privacy to confirm that the comments from the stage were indeed outrageous.”
As the backlash grew, Fisher sent an emailed statement on Thursday to several media outlets, saying “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.”
Previously, Fisher had told Bloomberg News that he didn’t understand the response. “I have given a lot of talks, a lot of times, in a lot of places and said stuff like this and never gotten that type of response,” Fisher said.
He also said that he thought his comments were taken out of context and added, “mostly the audience understands what I am saying.”
But Bloomberg also obtained a recording of a talk Fisher gave last year, in which he said it’s “the most stupid thing” an asset manager can do is to “brag about performance in a direct mail piece,” which is “a little bit like walking into a bar and you are a single guy and want to get laid and walking up to some girl and saying: ‘Hey you want to have sex?’ You just turn yourself into a jerk.”