CEO’s speech costs his business US$600 million dollars

The billionaire CEO of American wealth management company Fisher Investments, Ken Fisher, has lost a $600 million pension fund after a speech about how he did business.

Fisher Investments CEO Ken Fisher made sexist comments at a summit in Tiburon, San Francisco, last week, CNBC reported. In a speech, Ken Fisher compared his wealth management strategy to picking up women for sex, made explicit remarks about genitalia and mentioned Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was charged with trafficking girls this year before killing himself in prison.

Alex Chalekian, CEO of Lake Avenue Financial, was so “disgusted” by Mr Fisher’s “absolutely horrifying” comments that he posted a video about his reaction to Twitter, claiming the money-management expert also “made a reference to Jeffrey Epstein”, spoke about “picking up a girl”, “what’s in your pants” and “tripping on acid” and “other inappropriate comments”.

Michigan Chief Investment Officer Jon Braeutigam told the state’s investment board that its bureau of investments had fired Fisher Investments due to the chairman’s “completely unacceptable comments,” according to a letter obtained by CNBC. Fisher Investments and the Michigan Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Investments had enjoyed a 15-year relationship, with the investment fund responsible for managing more than US$600 million of State of Michigan Retirement Systems funds.

Fisher was initially defiant amid the backlash in an interview with Bloomberg, in which he said that attendees had mischaracterised his comments, and that he had “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, whose Washington-based firm manages over US$100 billion in assets and is said to have a net worth of US$3.7 billion, later apologised for his comments in a statement from his representative.

“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,” he said. “I realise this kind of language has no place in our company or industry. I sincerely apologise.”

In an audio obtained by CNBC, Fisher said at the summit: “Money, sex, those are the two most private things for most people,” so when trying to win new clients you need to be careful.

“It’s like going up to a girl in a bar … (inaudible) … going up to a woman in a bar and saying, hey I want to talk about what’s in your pants,” he said.

Braeutigam in the letter said that Michigan’s Bureau of Investment decided to fire Fisher Investments after seeing reports of his remarks.

″…All were in unanimous agreement that prompt termination is the correct course of action,” the letter said. “There is no excuse to not treat everyone with dignity and respect. We have high expectations of our managers (and staff), not just with regards to returns but also in how they exhibit integrity and respect to all individuals.”

Fisher famously founded his company with just US$250 in 1979 after dropping out of high school “because it was a waste of time”. Fisher has published 11 books.

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