Billionaire money manager Ken Fisher made several sexually charged remarks that shocked listeners at a financial services conference in San Francisco.
Fisher, whose Fisher Investments money management firm is based in Camas, outside Vancouver, Wash., spoke on Tuesday about how he built his company. He compared the process of gaining a client’s trust to “trying to get into a girl’s pants,” said Rachel Robasciotti, a founder of wealth manager Robasciotti & Philipson.
“I was floored,” said Robasciotti, who attended the event organized by Tiburon Strategic Advisors. “For me and some of the women sitting nearby we were kind of in shock. We were like: ‘Wait, did that really just happen?'”
Fisher also said that executives who are not comfortable talking about genitalia should not be in the financial industry, according to Robasciotti. She said he made a reference to dropping acid and also likened his employees to cattle who need to be branded.
“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 in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg. “Mostly the audience understands what I am saying.”
Fisher, who manages more than $100 billion, said he’s an easy “guy to dislike” because he manages so much money. He said his comments were taken out of context and that he talked about genitalia and women to make a point about how the art of wooing clients is similar to romantic seduction.
Alex Chalekian, the founder of Lake Avenue Financial, posted a video on Twitter recounting what he heard Fisher say, calling the remarks “absolutely horrifying.”
Chip Roame, a Tiburon managing partner who moderated Fisher’s talk, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Chalekian said in the video that “the way the summit is set up, it’s meant to allow many of these icons in the industry to be comfortable, and talk among their peers. But I just had to open up and mention how disgusted I am.”
Sonya Dreizler, a consultant who attended most of the fireside chat, confirmed what Chalekian shared on the twitter video. “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 indeed were outrageous,” she said.
Fisher founded Fisher Investments in 1979. He wrote a column at Forbes for decades and has authored 11 books. He has an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His firm serves large institutions and high-net worth clients.
“I regret at this moment in time that I said any of the things I said,” Fisher added. “I regret I accepted that speech invitation because it was kind of a pain in the neck.”
— With assistance from Gwen Everett.