Fisher Investments Review: Is Fisher Really a Fiduciary?

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Ken Fisher has been one of the most recognizable investment personalities for decades.

Outside of the biggest names — BlackRock, Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard — Fisher also founded and owns one of the most recognizable investment companies in the United States.

But is Fisher a glorified robo-advisor propped up by strong marketing and sales? Is it a trustworthy fee-only fiduciary? Or something in between? I’ll address that and more in this Fisher Investments review.

Table of Contents

Fisher Investments: Quick Look

Company NameFisher Investments
Company TypeInvestment company
Key FeaturesInvestment committee reports, annuity evaluations
DownsidesHigh fees, sales pressure, not custom enough
Best ForHigh net worth individuals who want to beat the market long-term

What Is Fisher Investments?

Founded in 1979 by Ken Fisher, Fisher Investments is based in Plano, Texas. Fisher Investments managed nearly $200 billion in assets as of March 2023.

Fisher, who served as CEO until 2016, remains the executive chairman.

He wrote an investing column for Forbes Magazine from 1984 to 2016, the longest-running column in the publication’s history. Fisher also has written 11 books on investing. Forbes counts his net worth at $6.9 billion as of February 2023.

Fisher Investments offers 401(k) services for companies and institutional investing. But the majority of its business caters to high net worth individuals via financial advisors.

The company offers services that are typical for a financial advisor, including financial planning, retirement planning and estate planning. But it has built a reputation on two fronts: an aggressive sales team and its Investment Policy Committee.

Fisher Investments’ Portfolio Management Philosophy

The Investment Policy Committee is unafraid to take positions in the market. Fisher’s investment philosophy is that no one strategy is always right. Its founder remains involved as the co-chief investment officer.

So the company’s committee studies market conditions under Fisher’s own framework called “The Four Market Conditions.” Then it projects forward and repositions its holdings accordingly as active investors.


Fisher Investments publishes in-depth research about its market view each quarter. It also prefers investing in individual stocks rather than in funds, a key tenet to its investment philosophy.

That allows the firm more flexibility for reallocation and end-of-year tax-loss harvesting. It also offers a way for Fisher to market its product in the face of objections over high fees. That’s ironic, though. Because Fisher talks about avoiding mutual funds and their expense ratios while charging exorbitant fees to its own investors.

The company’s investment team has a reputation for optimism, seemingly choosing to stay aggressive and weighted toward high-performing growth stocks even during market downturns.

How Fisher’s Strategies Clash With Clark Howard’s Beliefs

Money expert Clark Howard has always been a proponent of low-fee, diversified investing.

His most common recommendation is a target date fund. And he recently stated on his podcast that although he does business with Fidelity and Schwab as well, he keeps the highest percentage of his own investments at Vanguard. Vanguard is known for its low-cost index funds.

Clark does not recommend investing in individual stocks and prefers to bet on the U.S. economy as a whole rather than on individual companies.

So Clark’s recommendations and preferences are almost opposite to the philosophies of Fisher Investments.

Who Should Use Fisher Investments?

Who should become a Fisher Investments customer? That’s a great question.

First, you need at least $500,000 to be assured a spot as a customer. However, the company does accept applications for those with at least $200,000 on a case-by-case basis.

Fisher Investments charges a progressive fee rate. If you get accepted with less than $500,000, expect to pay 1.5% in annual fees. The benchmark for a typical financial advisor is 1%, including all services (not just portfolio management).


Here’s the fee schedule at Fisher:

$200,00-$499,999: 1.5%
$500,000-$999,999: 1.25%
$1 million-$5 million: 1.125%
$5 million+: 1.00%

Remember that if you invest enough money to reach a less expensive tier, you’ll only get the discounted rate on subsequent dollars. In other words, if you invest $2 million, you’ll get charged 1.25% on your first million and 1.125% on your second million for an effective rate of 1.1875%.

Compare that to Schwab where $1 million will get you annual fees of 0.80% (and gets cheaper from there). You can’t get below 1% at Fisher even if you’re putting in $10 million.

Although Fisher Investments offers fairly robust advisor services, their investment strategy seems like a pseudo robo-advisor.

They divide their portfolio management into equity accounts, fixed income accounts and blended accounts with a few different allocation setups depending on your age, goals and risk profile. From a pure investment standpoint, Betterment and Wealthfront offer similar (but more automated) services for less than 0.40% all-in each year.

I suppose that if you’re a high-net-worth individual that believes in Fisher Investments’ allocation committee and hopes that over time they can outperform their competition enough to offset their higher fees, this company is an option for you.

However, I think there are better options whether you’re looking for an investment company, a robo-advisor or a financial advisor.

Where Fisher Shines

Here are the biggest benefits to trusting Fisher Investments with your financial planning and investing.

  • Potential upside. Risk often comes with potential rewards. Not certain rewards, but potential. If you invest in the broad market, your returns are going to mirror that of the broad market. Fisher Investments gives you a fighting chance to outperform. And their bias toward aggressiveness even during down markets can be a positive if you’re not skittish about short-term losses or underperformance.
  • Intense market focus. The Investment Policy Committee offers written reviews, quarterly statements and bi-annual videos on its market outlook. Other companies have well-educated and experienced hires focused on evaluating the macro economy as well as various market sectors. But Fisher Investments derives much of its public identity from its investment decisions. Plus, it actually puts real stakes on those beliefs.
  • Narrow product offerings. Operations like Fidelity and Schwab try to be all things to all people. In many ways, those companies succeed. But if you’re ultra-focused on just a few services — portfolio allocation, retirement and estate planning, for example — you may like the fact that Fisher Investments focuses all its resources on fewer product offerings.
  • Annuity evaluations. Fisher seems to be mostly in lockstep with Clark in terms of discouraging people from putting money in annuities that aren’t consumer-friendly. For a fee, the company also offers a service that helps customers unwind poor annuities, although it’s not clear to me how good or bad that option is.

Where Fisher Falls Short

Here are the biggest downsides to working with Fisher Investments.

  • High fees. You’re certain to pay an effective annual rate of more than 1%. Possibly well above 1% depending on how much money you hand over to Fisher. Clark prefers low-cost investing options such as Vanguard.
  • High minimum deposit. The stated minimum to invest with Fisher is $500,000. But you may be able to get approval for as little as $200,000 if Fisher Investments decides to accept you (for a 1.5% annual fee.)
  • Reports of high sales pressure. The Fisher Investments brand has a reputation for aggressive marketing. And if they get your information as an interested client, you can expect frequent phone calls that may drift from annoying to ridiculous in volume.
  • Potential for less than stellar returns. Because Fisher Investments isn’t afraid to take a position on the market and be aggressive about reallocating based on their future view of the market, you can probably expect more variation in results (good or bad). If you’re a high net worth individual, that’s probably not what you want or need.
  • Lack of collaboration. Some customers reported pulling their money out before the end of the year when Fisher apparently executes its tax-loss strategy and faced higher-than-normal tax liabilities. Others said that Fisher invested all their cash immediately when they preferred dollar-cost averaging. The general theme is that in some cases, customers don’t get as much say in how their money gets invested as they may want. Fisher is a giant advisor company and the quality of each of their individual advisors likely varies.
  • Lacks certain products. Compared to Clark favorites like Fidelity and Schwab, Fisher lacks features such as banking services, trusts and robo-advisors.

Is Fisher Investments a Fiduciary?

It’s hard enough for the average retail investor to define “fiduciary.” Figuring out whether a financial advisor is a fiduciary is one of the trickiest things to navigate in all of personal finance.

Fisher Investments bases much of its marketing on the fact that they’re fiduciaries. That means that they’re under a legal obligation to do what’s in your best interest as a client. There are multiple types of fiduciaries as well: fee-only or fee-based.

Fee-based fiduciaries can still earn commissions and revenue for slotting you into certain investments above and beyond the fees you pay them.

Here’s what we know: Fisher is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). So they are held to a fiduciary standard. I looked at Fisher’s disclosure document and read third-party Fisher Investment reviews. It seems like Fisher is actually a fee-only fiduciary.

That’s the standard that Clark wants you to find in any advisor you hire. However, Fisher also charges extremely expensive fees. So not every investment advisor that’s a fee-only fiduciary is worthy of your money.

FAQs About Fisher Investments

Here’s a look at some questions you may have about Fisher Investments.

What Happened With Ken Fisher in 2019 That Caused a Controversy?

About three years after discontinuing his long-running Forbes column and stepping down as CEO of Fisher Investments, Fisher made some controversial and damaging comments during a fireside chat at an investment conference.

Among other remarks, he compared winning potential clients to “trying to get into a girl’s pants.” He’s also drawn criticism for making sexual jokes on Twitter among other controversial remarks.

His 2019 remarks caused retail investors to pull $20 million from his firm and institutional investors to pull more than $3 billion.

What Are Some Alternatives To Fisher Investments?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking to accomplish.


If you’re only worried about your investment portfolio, and you don’t want to manage your own investments, I’d strongly consider a robo-advisor. As I mentioned earlier in the article, Betterment and Wealthfront are my top two choices. You can get a well-managed portfolio as well as some self-service financial planning tools for less than 0.40% per year.

Want a financial advisor at a big, high-level company that manages big-time assets? Fidelity and Schwab are probably better options. You can also turn to your local, independent financial advisor if you can find a good fee-only fiduciary with whom you mesh well. That may give you more specialized and personalized attention.

Looking for financial planning at a cheaper price? Consider hybrid robo-advisors such as Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services. You can also hire a fee-only fiduciary from the Garrett Planning Network.

Garrett’s member advisors are also required to be accessible, meaning they can’t reject clients based on income or assets. They provide financial planning and investment advice on an hourly, as-needed basis. So you can, for example, get financial planning help on a short-term basis without paying ongoing annual fees.

What Is Clark’s Strategy on Investing?

Clark’s No. 1 financial tenet is to live on less money than you make. If you’re doing that, you’ll have a chance to build real wealth over time.

He also wants you to build an emergency fund before you start investing. That way you have a financial cushion for the “oops” that happen in life.

Next, Clark says that you should take advantage of the tax benefits and potential for a company match with 401(k) accounts and IRAs. Preferably through the Roth version of those.

From there, he advises you to increase the amount of money that you’re investing over time.

Final Thoughts

Fisher Investments is a fee-only fiduciary that pays close attention to the stock market and isn’t afraid to take a real position.

However, it also features high fees, pressure-packed sales tactics and a lack of broad financial services.


I think Fidelity is the best option if you’re looking for a behemoth investment company with trustworthy financial advisors and low fees. And if you’re only looking for investing help, you can get more done for less money elsewhere.

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