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Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Outspoken RIA Billionaire Prepares to Step Down

News summary by MFWire's editors

An outspoken, billionaire RIA chief (one who also PMs two mutual funds and also subadvises) is preparing to step down as CEO of his eponymous firm.

Trevor Hunnicutt of InvestmentNews reports that, according to a Fisher Investments [profile] spokesman, founder Ken Fisher will hand in his CEO hat by the end of 2016. The spokesman clarifies that Fisher, now 64, has "openly stated" for years that he plans to step down in the year after he turns 65. His 65th birthday will be November 29, 2015.

After InvestmentNews published its story, Fisher Investments put out a statement clarifying that Fisher will stay on as chairman and co-chief investment officer once he steps down as CEO. (There's no perhaps about it.)

A company spokesman confirms to MFWire that Fisher has been talking about the shift "for a long time" with both clients and employees.

Fisher is one of the PMs on Fidelity's three-star, $7.2-billion, subadvised Strategic Advisers Small-Mid Cap Fund. (Fisher Investments is one of 10 subadvisors on the fund, including Fidelity's own Pyramis.) Fisher is also a PM on his firm's own two mutual funds: the two-star, $309.9-million Purisima Total Return Fund; and the two-star, $47,061 Purisima All-Purpose Fund. All told, InvestmentNews reports, Fisher's firm now manages $60 billion in assets.

Fisher himself is a long-time Forbes columnist, and the magazine estimates his net worth at $2.9 billion, making Fisher the 663rd richest person in the world and the 236th richest American. The firm he founded in 1979 is based in Camas, Washington, outside Portland, Oregon.

How did Fisher rise so far? InvestmentNews says he "built one of the largest independent advisory firms in the country on the back of unsolicited mailings, magazine columns and a constant stream of books." The trade publication further describes Fisher as "an often unfiltered public presence," one who speaks out against many financial services industry ideas he doesn't favor, like "wealth management" as a concept, or the "New Normal" idea promoted by Pimco (and its then-star PM Bill Gross). 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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