Review of Fisher Investments

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Updated on Friday, April 23, 2021

Fisher Investments is a fee-only registered investment advisor (RIA) with locations in the U.S. and across the globe. The firm has over 1,000 investment advisors on staff, and the team manages $159 billion in assets, including for its subsidiaries, making it one of the largest fee-only RIAs in the U.S. Its focus is investment management for institutions and high-net-worth individuals, and it also offers financial planning.

The bottom line: Fisher Investments features a customized, flexible investment approach, but doesn’t go as deep as some firms on financial planning, and has a fairly high minimum investment amount.

  • One of the largest fee-only RIAs in the U.S.
  • Focuses on investment management for institutions and individuals.
  • Generally requires a minimum investment of $500,000, but has an account option for those with less.
Assets under management: $159,000,000,000
Minimum investment: $500,000; $200,000 for WealthBuilder
Individual investor to advisor ratio: 42:1
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM
Headquarters: 5525 NW Fisher Creek Drive Camas, WA 98607
Phone: 800-851-8845

All information included in this profile is accurate as of March 18, 2021. For more information, please consult Fisher Investments’ website.

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Overview of Fisher Investments

Fisher Investments is a privately held investment advisory firm launched by Ken Fisher in 1979. Today, it has over $159 billion in assets under management (AUM). Fisher Investments has office locations in the U.S. and across the globe, and clients both domestic and international.

Fisher Investments has more than 3,500 employees in total across 30 countries and six continents. In terms of expertise, Fisher Investments promotes its global investment focus as well as guidance from its Investment Policy Committee.

A look at the founder of Fisher Investments

Founder Ken Fisher is well-known in the investing space. He currently serves as Fisher Investments’ executive chairman and co-chief investment officer, and previously served as CEO for 37 years. Fisher is the author of 11 financial books, including four New York Times bestsellers, and is also the longest-running columnist in Forbes’ history.

Fisher owns more than 75% of the shares of Fisher Investments.

Fisher Investments’ pros

  • Awards for its performance and size: The Financial Times has named Fisher Investments as a top investment advisor for the past seven years. Fisher Investments was also No. 2 on the InvestmentNews’ ranking of U.S.-based, fee-only RIAs based on their assets under management for 2019, and No. 141 (out of 500) on Pensions and Investments’ list of largest money managers worldwide for 2020.
  • Customized and flexible investment approach: If you sign on with Fisher Investments, the firm will design your portfolio based on your goals and situation. It’s not just one strategy for everyone, or a so-called cookie-cutter experience. Rather the firm adjusts its investment approach in response to market conditions, and promises to communicate with clients on a regular basis.
  • No recent disciplinary actions: Fisher Investments has not had to make any legal, civil or criminal disclosures for disciplinary issues. The firm has a clean record.
  • Guidance from high-profile investment team: Ken Fisher himself leads the firm’s Investment Policy Committee, which sets the standard for investment recommendations and makes investment decisions.
  • Educational resources provided: Fisher Investments produces quarterly investment reports, online commentary and videos and investment training books for its clients. The firm also holds seminars around the country, where you can hear from the senior management team about the market.

Fisher Investments’ cons

  • Fees on the higher side that aren’t reduced much for large accounts: Fisher Investments charges a fee of 1.25% of assets under management on the first $1 million invested in its equity and blended accounts. This is on the higher side, as MagnifyMoney reported in 2020 that the standard annual fee ranges from 0.50% to 1.25%. While Fisher slightly reduces rates for larger accounts, you need over $5 million to qualify for the lowest rate. Its income-only accounts do offer lower management fees for accounts over $5 million, with the lowest rate being 0.28% for accounts above $40 million.
  • Minimum investment may be out of reach for some: You typically need at least $500,000 to open an account with Fisher Investments. The firm states that, in some cases, you can open for a lower amount, though it’s not guaranteed.
  • Limited services: Fisher Investments primarily focuses on investment management services. The firm also offers some basic financial planning as part of setting up your investment account. Beyond that, though, Fisher does not offer other services like divorce planning, insurance/risk management, real estate management and brokerage services, which other firms may offer.
  • Controversy with Ken Fisher: In October 2019, Ken Fisher made some controversial jokes during a presentation at a conference. Upset investors pulled out over $4 billion in assets under management at the time. Business has recovered since then, though the firm’s reputation did suffer a blow.

What types of clients does Fisher Investments serve?

To open an account with Fisher Investments, you typically need to invest at least $500,000. However, the firm states that, at its discretion, it may be willing to work with clients who have less. The firm also offers a WealthBuilder account that targets investors with at least $200,000 in investable assets.

Nearly half of Fisher Investments’ assets under management come from high net worth individuals. The SEC defines high net worth individuals as those who have at least $750,000 invested, so it’s possible to meet Fisher Investments’ $500,000 minimum, or to have a WealthBuilder account, without technically being a high net worth individual.

Clients are based across the globe, in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

Services offered by Fisher Investments

Fisher Investments primarily focuses on providing investment and portfolio management services. As part of setting up your account, Fisher Investments may offer a financial plan at no additional cost. This service is offered as part of the firm’s client onboarding process, and you can then decide whether you want to implement the plan.

Here is a full list of services offered by Fisher Investments:

  • Investment advisory services/portfolio management
  • Financial planning services (free financial plan offered to some as they prepare to invest)
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable planning
    • Cash flow forecasting
    • Tax planning
    • Social Security optimization
    • Spending analysis and budgeting
    • Long-term care planning
  • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
  • Annuity evaluation and conversion
  • Quarterly reports, seminars, workshops, videos and free e-books on investing

How Fisher Investments invests your money

Fisher Investments is a discretionary investment firm that uses an active management style. Rather than selling broad portfolios that try to match an index like an S&P 500, the firm’s analysts closely study the market for opportunities to earn a higher return versus its benchmarks. The firm does so using qualitative and quantitative tools such as:

  • Software
  • Computer databases
  • A centralized portfolio management system

The firm’s Investment Policy Committee, chaired by founder Ken Fisher, helps guide this research and sets the foundation of these investment strategies.

Fisher Investments does not offer just one fund to every client but instead tries to personalize investment recommendations based on a client’s goals, time horizon, cash flow needs and risk tolerance. The firm’s portfolio recommendation will be a mix of equity, income or blended funds that best fit a client’s goals.

Fisher Investments takes a top-down approach to portfolio management, meaning broad economic analysis and forecasts drive decisions. The top-down approach comprises:

  • 70% asset allocation
  • 20% sub-asset allocation
  • 10% security selection

Fisher Investments puts client money in assets including:

  • Domestic and foreign common stocks
  • Fixed-income securities
  • Structured products
  • Other derivatives that can include leverage

The firm also may use hedging strategies such as short equity positions and options when appropriate.

Beyond that, Fisher Investments promotes its flexibility. It can adjust the types of asset classes, sectors and geographic regions represented in a client’s portfolio depending on its predictions. If the firm is worried about a potential downturn, it takes defensive strategies to mitigate losses. Fisher Investments takes a global approach and will consider investments beyond the United States to fit a client’s goals.

Fees Fisher Investments charges for its services

Fisher Investments makes money by charging a fee based on a percentage of assets under management. The firm deducts a percentage of your portfolio every quarter to cover this fee. The amount you owe depends on the size of your portfolio, with lower rates offered for larger portfolios. The firm also offers an additional rate discount for portfolios over $5 million that only invest in fixed-income assets, not equities. See the tables below for the firm’s current rates.

Note that Fisher Investments typically only accepts clients with $500,000 or more in assets. However, if it takes on a client with less than $500,000, it will charge a flat 1.50% fee on the portfolio. In addition, if you sign up with $500,000 or more, but market losses push your portfolio to below $475,000, you would also owe the 1.50% fee.

Fee Schedule for Fisher Investments’ Equity and Blended Accounts
Equity and blended accountsAnnual management fee
First $1 million1.25%
Next $4 million1.125%
Additional amounts over $5 million1.00%
Fee Schedule for Fisher Investments’ Income-Only Accounts
Income-only account in excess of $5 millionAnnual management fee
First $5 million0.75%
Next $10 million0.50%
Next $10 million0.43%
Next $10 million0.38%
Next $10 million0.33%
Next $45 million0.28%

Besides its asset-based fee, Fisher Investment clients may also owe fees associated with handling their investment strategy, including brokerage commissions, custodian fees and expenses from investing in exchange traded funds (ETFs) and structured notes. This money doesn’t go to Fisher Investments, but instead to the brokerage firms processing the investments.

While Fisher Investments does offer financial planning to some clients, it does not charge for this service and it’s covered by the asset-based fee charged for investment management. Finally, Fisher Investments makes a small amount of money from speaking, writing and royalties for its books and advice materials.

Fisher Investments’ disciplinary disclosures

Fisher Investments has not faced any disciplinary events or material legal events, nor has any action been taken against any management person at the firm. The firm currently has a clean disciplinary disclosure record.

When a firm registers with the SEC, it needs to report any criminal charges, regulatory actions or legal actions like liens or civil judgments that have been taken against them. These are called disclosures and must be listed on a firm’s Form ADV filed with the SEC. For more information, visit Fisher Investments’ IAPD page.

Fisher Investments’ onboarding process

If you’re interested in working with Fisher Investments, you can:

  • Contact one of its branches
  • Call 800-851-8845
  • Request a meeting through the website

The firm will then connect you with a regional vice president so you can learn more about the firm.

After the initial discussion, the firm will partner you with an investment counselor, who would become your point of contact and the person who manages your money. The investment counselor will ask you about your:

  • Retirement goals
  • Income
  • Living expenses
  • Other relevant financial information

With this information, they can put together your customized investment recommendation. If you’re happy with the recommendation, you can fill out the paperwork to transfer over your savings to launch the account.

Once you’re a client, Fisher Investments states that your investment advisor will meet with you to go over your portfolio and make sure it’s still appropriate. The firm also says that you are free to contact the them any time with questions or concerns.

Where Fisher Investments is located

Fisher Investments has locations in the U.S. and across the globe, including in Canada and several European countries such as France, Germany and Denmark. The firm’s U.S. office locations are in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Note that while the above are the firm’s physical locations, Fisher Investments is registered to serve clients in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Is Fisher Investments right for you?

If you’re looking to invest at least $500,000 and want an advisor that will actively manage your portfolio, Fisher Investments could be a good choice. If you have at least $200,000, you could also try applying for the firm’s WealthBuilder account. Just know that you aren’t guaranteed to be accepted and the fee will be higher for smaller accounts. But this could be worth it to access the firm’s customized investment recommendations, flexible strategies that react to market conditions, and highly experienced team.

Regardless of account size, this extra service does come at a cost, as Fisher Investments charges relatively high fees in comparison to median advisory fees. The firm’s focus is also centered on investment management, and it doesn’t offer too much variety in services, particularly when it comes to advanced financial planning. But if investment management is your top priority and you’re willing to pay a little more to get its support, Fisher Investments would be worth considering.

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