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Fidelity Joined by Florida Pension Fund in Examining Fisher

The state of Michigan and Philadelphia Board of Pensions have severed their ties to the embattled money manager.

 

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire money manager Ken Fisher is facing more pressure from clients following offensive remarks he made at an industry conference.

Fidelity Investments and the state of Florida pension fund said Tuesday they’re examining their relationship with Fisher Investments. The Philadelphia Board of Pensions said it plans to divest the $54 million in assets held with the firm.

“We are very concerned about the highly inappropriate comments by Kenneth Fisher,” a Fidelity spokesman said in a statement. “We do not tolerate these types of comments at our company and Fidelity Strategic Advisers is reviewing this relationship.”

Fisher Investments manages about $500 million for Fidelity Strategic Advisers, which oversees managed accounts. Fisher is listed as a subadviser for Fidelity Strategic Advisers Small-Mid Cap Fund.

Fisher Investments is also a sub-adviser on a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. equity fund that had about $675 million in assets at the end of April. The firm has not made any decision on changing its relationship with Fisher, according to a spokesman for the bank.

The Florida State Board of Administration, which has about $175 million with Fisher, was concerned enough about the executive’s comments to begin an investigation to determine if it will drop the firm, spokesman John Kuczwanski said in an interview.

“SBA policies require our employees and service providers to foster positive business and personal practices designed to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity,” Kuczwanski said in a statement Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Philadelphia funds said the decision to divest was made to “protect the assets of the fund from the consequences of Mr. Fisher’s inappropriate comments.” The decision was made on Oct. 10.

Michigan’s Move

Last week, the State of Michigan Retirement Fund’s pension account ended its relationship with Fisher’s firm, which managed $600 million for the state.

At the event last week, Fisher spoke about how he built his company, which manages $112 billion. He compared the process of gaining a client’s trust to “trying to get into a girl’s pants” and talked about genitalia. Fisher has apologized for the comments.

Fidelity came under media scrutiny two years ago after it dismissed a prominent stock picker who had been accused of sexual harassment by a junior female employee. Chief Executive Officer Abby Johnson set out to improve the gender mix at her firm by recruiting more women and tapping talent from within.

Reuters earlier reported the Fidelity news.

--With assistance from Sridhar Natarajan.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Michael McDonald in Boston at [email protected];
Miles Weiss in Washington at [email protected];
Janet Lorin in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Alan Mirabella at [email protected]
Vincent Bielski

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