Oct 22, 2019

Investor Ken Fisher faces a multibillion-dollar reckoning

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Billionaire investor Ken Fisher could see even more investors and more money flee his asset management business as he and the firm continue to face a reckoning for the inappropriate remarks he made at a private investor conference earlier this month.

What's happening: Nearly $2 billion has been pulled from Fisher Investments in less than two weeks by the state of Michigan and retirement systems from Philadelphia, Boston and Iowa as well as Fidelity.

  • Major institutional managers including Goldman Sachs and pension funds from Florida and Los Angeles say they are reviewing their relationship with Fisher.

Background: Fisher has presented himself as a brilliant money manager and had been a frequent guest on financial news programs, dispensing advice about stock picks. His firm has grown thanks to a barrage of direct mail, seminars, videos, ads and the tagline for his firm: “We do better, when you do better.”

The big picture: But behind closed doors, Fisher was often unprofessional and the company provided a hostile work environment, according to accounts published Monday by Bloomberg.

  • "At a staff meeting in 2008, for example, as financial markets were reeling, a woman asked Fisher if he’d considered shifting into defensive holdings."
  • "'Why would I want half a d---?' Fisher replied, according to two people who attended the meeting."
  • "Fear is ever-present, some former employees said. They said they were held to vague targets and that it was easy to get in trouble for questioning the firm’s methods or objectives."
  • "Salespeople must ... make hundreds of calls a day, sifting through names of mostly unqualified or uninterested prospects. Many hires are recruited directly from college and are gone in a year or two."
  • “'I thought Fisher was my dream job,’ said Nick Morrison, who joined the firm in nearby Vancouver in 2011, when he was fresh out of the University of Idaho. He left the following year. 'From the very first day, it was just a nightmare.'"

Go deeper: A push to let mom and pop invest in startups

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.