- Billionaire investor Ken Fisher sparked a furor this week over sexist comments he made at an investment conference.
- Attendees said Fisher compared signing a new client to "getting into a girl's pants" and mentioned genitalia, among other topics.
- Fisher apologized for the comments, saying some of his words and phrases "were clearly wrong."
Billionaire money manager Ken Fisher sparked a furor this week over sexist comments he made at an exclusive investor conference. According to attendees, Fisher compared signing a new client to "getting into a girl's pants" and mentioned genitalia.
Fisher, who made the comments at a San Francisco conference on Tuesday, then clarified the comment by adding, "I don't want you to confuse me with Epstein — a woman's pants," said Rachel Robasciotti, a principal and wealth manager at Robasciotti & Philipson who attended the conference as a speaker and heard Fisher's remarks. Fisher was referring to the late convicted sex offender .
The event, hosted by Tiburon Strategic Advisors, carried an entry fee of $25,000 per person and drew an elite circle of mostly male investment professionals. Robasciotti estimated that she was about one of 15 women out of roughly 220 attendees. Some other attendees have spoken out about Fisher's comments despite a non-disclosure agreement they signed in order to attend the event, according to trade publication RIA Intel.
Fisher's remarks in a public forum highlight the intense sexism women often face in the investment business and that make it hard to gain a foothold in the industry, Robasciotti said. Women represent only 4% of top executives at mutual funds, hedge funds and other investment vehicles and control just 1% to 3.5% of fund assets under management, according to the Harvard Business Review.
"When leaders are telling other people to view women in this particular way, then we don't rise to the same level as other men in their minds," Robasciotti told CBS MoneyWatch. Fisher "is basically telling a room of people who aren't as successful as him how to view the world, and that has a direct impact on my experience in investment management."
She added, "Everyone was just appalled and just said, 'I've heard this kind of thing before.' This is why we haven't had our #MeToo moment."
Fisher: "Clearly wrong"
In a statement sent to CBS MoneyWatch, Fisher apologized and said he "shouldn't have made" some of the comments.
"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. I realize this kind of language has no place in our company or industry," he said. "I sincerely apologize."
But in an earlier interview with Bloomberg News, Fisher appeared to downplay his comments: "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 told the media outlet.
Both men and women attending the conference were "disgusted" by Fisher's comments, said Alex Chalekian, founder of investment firm Lake Avenue Financial, who posted a video on Twitter about his experience at the conference.
"Things that were said by Ken Fisher were just absolutely horrifying. He made comments about genitalia, he talked about picking up on a girl and don't show them what's in your pants. He made reference to Jeffrey Epstein," Chalekian said. "I am truly horrified and disgusted."
Fisher, the son of renowned investor Philip Fisher, is worth an estimated $3.7 billion, according to Forbes. That makes him the 195th wealthiest person in the U.S, by the magazine's estimates.