A popular wealth management conference has banned billionaire Ken Fisher from ever attending again after his crude remarks incensed attendees.
Chip Roame, the managing partner of Tiburon Strategic Advisors and the organizer of the Tiburon CEO Summit, disowned Fisher on Thursday in a lengthy letter on his company’s website.
“We all choose our ways to deal with bad behavior. The recent situation that arose at Tiburon has been dealt with firmly. I believe that I clearly repudiated the comments and apologized to all the attendees. I further barred the speaker from ever attending again,” Roame said.
It was an obvious allusion to Fisher, whose name is not mentioned in the statement.
“I am not naming names today because this issue is not about one person; this is an industry issue. I hope to share a learning opportunity with industry participants, not deliberately harm one’s business.”
In an email to RIA Intel on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Fisher Investments attributed the following comments to Fisher: “While I said words he cited I don’t think he heard me correctly and clearly misconstrued my meaning and certainly my intended meaning. Most of his slant is ‘gotcha’ wrong in my view. To the extent he and any others were offended I apologize truly and sincerely.”
Much of any damage done to Fisher and Fisher Investments, the $112 billion RIA that he founded and now serves at as executive chairman, might already be done.
Alex Chalekian, the founder and chief executive of Lake Avenue Financial, a Pasadena, CA-based RIA that manages $160 million in assets, was appalled by what he heard Fisher say during a fireside chat with Roame at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Later that evening, Chalekian posted a video denouncing Fisher’s “horrifying” comments, including a comparison the billionaire made between winning new clients and getting “into a girl’s pants.” Fisher backtracked and said he didn’t want to be viewed as someone like the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to attendees.
“I just had to open up and mention how disgusted I am,” Chalekian said in the video, breaking a confidentiality policy to not speak about the private conference for wealth management executives.
At least two other financial advisors also broke the confidentiality policy at the Tiburon CEO Summit.
In his letter Thursday, Roame defended his summit’s closed-door policy to the media, arguing that “nearly all members believe that media would inhibit candid discussion.” But he also pointed out that while Chalekian “did technically violate” the conference’s media policy, the advisor “recognized that the issues of dignity, respect, and inclusion are more important than the Tiburon CEO Summit media policy, and he took action.”
“I will always support a participant who calls out inappropriate behavior and even does so publicly.”
The two do not know each other well and had not spoken between when Chalekian posted his video to his personal Twitter and when Roame’s letter was published Thursday. The letter was the first that the RIA knew that Roame supported his efforts, it said.
Chalekian acknowledged the letter and thanked Roame in a tweet Thursday.
Roame also used the letter to caution observers not to “judge too quickly” and wrote that “the industry’s issue will not be improved by a few people sending off uniformed tweets and emails, making further accusations.”
Not everyone was satisfied with Roame’s letter because of the absence of Fisher’s name and they took to – where else? – Twitter to express their disappointment.
“Almost as disappointing is this response. U had a chance to lead but chose to protect @fisherinvest. U may be too afraid to call him out but I’m not. Your quote is laughable ‘I’m not naming names today because this issue is not about one person, this is an industry issue’. Um, no,” James Miller, a financial advisor, posted.