Kenneth Fisher Ruled Investing. Then He Made a Sexist Joke.

Kenneth Fisher Ruled Investing. Then He Made a Sexist Joke.

By 1979, Mr. Fisher struck out on his own, forming his own investment firm. He penned his first book, “Super Stocks,” in 1984 and has written 10 more since.

The key to Mr. Fisher’s success has been advertising and employing an army of salespeople to cold call investors, often relying on leads generated from internet responses. In a lawsuit 15 years ago, lawyers for Mr. Fisher said he had developed a marketing system that was “unique among asset management firms.” At that time, Mr. Fisher’s firm estimated it spent $14,000 to attract each of it customers.

Last year, Fisher Investments spent just over $68 million on advertising, and the firm ranks as the 12th-biggest ad spender in the financial services industry, according to Kantar, a data and consulting firm.

All that spending has attracted a robust client base for Mr. Fisher’s firm, which manages about $60 billion for more than 65,000 individual investors — the bulk of its clients. Before the furor erupted, public pensions and state and municipal governments accounted for roughly $11 billion of the firm’s assets.

Fisher Investments has for several years been a client of Callan, a consulting firm that advises pensions and institutional investors about selecting money managers. A spokeswoman for Callan declined to discuss its relationship with Fisher Investments and its consulting work.

But NEPC, another influential pension consultant, issued a letter last Thursday recommending that its clients terminate holdings with Fisher Investments, saying Mr. Fisher’s behavior, his response to criticism and the subsequent prominent redemptions “lead us to question the sustainability of the firm.”

The firm’s other clients include sovereign wealth funds, corporate profit-sharing plans, other investment advisers and charitable organizations.

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