Who do you trust with your money? A robot or a human? In our Fisher Investments review, we’ll tell you why you may prefer this human-guided investment firm over robo-advisors.
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If you’re uncomfortable managing your own investments, and you’re not keen on robo-advisors, Fisher Investments might be for you. This investment management firm provides comprehensive financial services personalized to your goals and comfort level. And rather than investing your money in passive assets to merely track the markets, Fisher actively seeks to give you a better performance.
If you’re looking for advisory, portfolio management, and financial planning services – and you have a significant chunk of change to invest – find out if Fisher Investments is a good fit.
About Fisher Investments
Fisher Investments is one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country. The company began operations in 1979 and as of March 2022 has more than $197 billion in assets under management. They serve thousands of private clients as well as businesses and institutions of varying sizes. Fisher has offices in California, Arizona, Texas, Washington, and more in addition to several global locations, but you can also get all the help you need virtually.
Founder, Executive Chairman, and Co-Chief Investment Officer Ken Fisher is still heavily involved in the firm and serves as a member of the Investment Policy Committee. He is known for his long history as a Forbes columnist, writing for the magazine from 1984 to 2017, and has authored 11 different books. Fisher has a personal net worth estimated at $6.9 billion as of February 2023.
How Fisher Investments Works
Fisher investments is a fee-only investment firm. That means you pay a flat fee for investment management, rather than fees based on individual investments or trades. This ensures that Fisher Investments is working first and foremost in your best interests.
In an investment universe increasingly focused on robo-advisors, Fisher Investments is a traditional human-guided investment management service. And unlike robo-advisors, it doesn’t actually take control over your assets. Instead, an account is set up in your name with a third-party custodian, with Fisher Investments having control over the investment activity.
Your investment account is made up of U.S. and international stocks, bonds, cash and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They are part of an investment portfolio, custom-designed for your investment profile and personal goals.
Personal Investment Counselor
When you work with Fisher Investments as a Personal Wealth Management client, you are connected with a dedicated Investment Counselor who will stick with you throughout your relationship with Fisher and liaise with other teams within the firm to manage your account. Some of these teams are the Investment Policy Committee, the Portfolio Evaluation Group, and the Research Department.
Your Counselor is a professional investment advisor, who will review your portfolio periodically and keep you advised on evolving recommendations. In this way, Fisher Investments offers a much more hands-on approach than robo-advisors, which typically involve minimal human contact and use algorithms to analyze and advise
Another important note is that your Investment Counselor does not earn a commission. As a fiduciary, Fisher is committed to acting in your best interest. Therefore, you will only be contacted for investment updates and important information, never for sales calls.
Fisher Investments starts by determining the right portfolio for you. They consider the following factors in creating your personalized asset mix:
- Your risk tolerance
- Investment objectives
- Investment time horizon
- Cash flow requirements (how much income do you need from your portfolio right now?)
- Other income sources you have
- Tax considerations – minimizing the tax impact of capital gains
- Other assets not managed by Fisher Investments (like employer-sponsored retirement plans)
- Other requests
Investment management strategic decisions are made by Fisher Investment’s Investment Policy Committee (IPC). The committee is comprised of five people including Ken Fisher himself, who holds the position of Executive Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer.
Fisher Investments Research Department is dedicated to identifying changes that affect investors. This includes reporting on economic and political trends, gathering information on existing and potential assets, putting together analyses for markets and risks, and more.
Tools and Resources
In addition to professional portfolio management and regular access to your personal Investment Counselor, you can expect the following when you’re a client of Fisher Investments:
Education and Information
Fisher Investments strives to keep investors in the know. They use the following contact methods to keep you fully up-to-date:
- Comprehensive quarterly reports
- Daily online commentary
- Capital Markets Update videos
- A series of investing books
- Periodic updates from the IPC
Fisher Investments hosts events in many cities nationwide, designed exclusively for their clients. The purpose is to give clients unprecedented access to senior decision-makers as well as other clients of the firm. Events include:
- Fisher Forecast Seminars
- Investment Roundtables
- Fisher Friends events
These events are available to you at no extra cost, and there’s no limit to how many you can attend. You’re under no obligation to attend. But, if you want more direct involvement in what’s going on in the investment world, these events are a real opportunity to expand your knowledge base.
You may prefer to turn your portfolio over to Fisher Investments and let them handle all the details. But if you’d like to know more about what’s going on, you’ll have the following resources available to you:
- Quarterly Reviews – Each quarter you’ll receive a report discussing recent market performance and future market outlook, including discussions of historic and emerging trends.
- Capital Markets Update Videos – These are produced twice each year and explain the current investment market outlook.
- MarketMinder.com – This is a website available to the general public. It’s a source of “straight talk” about the financial markets. It’s updated daily and includes analysis and commentary on current market events.
Fisher Investments Calculators
Fisher Investments provides a couple of investment-related calculators to help you determine your investment needs.
- Future Value Calculator. Calculate the future value of any investment. You enter the present value, anticipated additions, the number of years you’ll be investing, and the anticipated rate of return.
- Retirement Calculator. This gives you a simple method to estimate how certain changes can affect your retirement income. In the process, it enables you to come up with different scenarios that’ll help you reach your goals in a world of changing circumstances. It can help you to know if you’re on track, or if you need to make changes, such as your contributions or your investment mix.
The Fisher Investments Mobile App is available for U.S. users at the App Store or Google Play. It will provide you with daily commentary, daily news roundups, Fisher Investments’ social media posts, and access to videos from their YouTube channel.
Fisher Investments Features and Services
As a Fisher Investments client, you’ll receive financial planning services as part of your membership. You’ll have support doing everything from saving for emergencies to managing your spending to investing for your goals and future.
Working with your financial adviser, you’ll create a complete financial plan – or modify an existing one to better meet your needs – using your portfolio, debt, spending, cash flow, and more. This will give you a clear idea of how to grow your wealth and net worth and what you need to do to achieve your investing and retirement goals.
Fisher Investments uses a holistic approach to retirement planning. That includes meeting with you to learn about your retirement needs and desired lifestyle, then developing a personalized portfolio to help you get there. It also involves regular updates on your financial situation and adjusting the investment strategy as your circumstances change.
Fisher also offers a retirement planner, The 15-Minute Retirement Plan, free of charge. It centers on what is perhaps an investor’s biggest concern about retirement: outliving your money. The guide helps you to understand the intricacies of providing for your retirement. It takes into account life expectancy, the income you’ll need, as well as the portfolio necessary to produce that income.
One of the areas of specific concern it deals with is increasing life expectancy. Fisher Investments recognizes that most people will likely live longer than they expect. Their investment strategy helps you to prepare for this likely outcome.
This planner is an excellent introduction to understanding and preparing for retirement.
Other retirement investing guides available include:
- The Definitive Guide to Retirement Income
- Retirement GPS
- 13 Retirement Blunders to Avoid
- 401(k) & IRA Tips and Answers
- 99 Retirement Tips
- When to Retire: A Quick and Easy Planning Guide
Active Portfolio Management
This is an important distinguishing factor of Fisher Investments. While other platforms, including robo advisors and some more hands-off investment management firms, utilize passive management techniques designed for stable returns, Fisher Investments takes an active management approach. Robo-advisors invest primarily in index-based ETFs with the goal of matching the performance of the market. Fisher Investments uses an active investment management strategy. That means your portfolio will be adjusted based on market conditions and your investments bought and sold as needed to (hopefully) take advantage of and hedge against swings.
For example, if the outlook for stocks is negative, your stock positions will be reduced in favor of bonds and cash. If a market upturn is expected, stocks will be re-emphasized in your portfolio. The service will also look to exploit foreign markets that might outperform U.S. markets, as well as market shifts between large, mid, and small-capitalization market sectors.
There’s no guarantee Fisher Investments will outperform the general market. But it’s believed that strategic asset reallocations in various market conditions will improve your long-term performance.
Annuities are perhaps the most mysterious investment vehicles of all. In fact, technically speaking they’re not even investments–they’re investment contracts. Your upfront investment is for a future income stream but doesn’t necessarily remain your property.
The complication is that annuities contain dozens of provisions that are poorly understood by the general public. People are certainly interested in creating a permanent income stream, but they’re not usually aware that they might forfeit a large part of their investment, or that they’ll pay very high fees for the privilege.
For this reason, Fisher Investments offers a wealth of information on annuities. They’ll help you to determine if an annuity you already have, or one you’re planning on buying, is right for you. They also explain the many different types of annuities and the various provisions they contain.
Fisher Investments Fees and Pricing
Fisher Investments charges an all-encompassing fee of 1.5% on portfolios starting at $500,000 (the investment minimum). The fee drops on higher account balances, to as low as 1.25%. There are no commissions or hidden fees based on trading within your account.
Fisher Investments Pros & Cons
Comprehensive investment management.
Personal Investment Counselor, who isn’t on commission, and will contact you with pertinent information, and not random sales calls.
Active portfolio management that seeks to beat the market, not merely match it.
Strong emphasis on retirement, which will be a benefit to most investors.
Flat fee management means no commissions, and no broker incentive to “churn your account” to generate income.
Fisher Investment’s management fee is much higher than what you will pay for robo-advisors. But they also provide a higher level of service.
Should You Sign Up with Fisher Investments?
While low fees matter with investing, they’re hardly the whole story. You will pay more for investment management through Fisher Investments, but that price buys you service you won’t get just anywhere.
Fisher Investments will provide you with a personal Investment Counselor, who knows your financial situation and goals personally and will help you to reach them. That level of personal service is not available with robo-advisors.
But perhaps the more compelling reason is active investment management. Robo-advisors use passive investment management. That’s a strategy that involves simply matching the performance of the underlying markets. Active investment management is a strategy that works to outperform the market.
This can be a difficult objective in the type of rising market we’ve had for the last nine years. But it may prove to be a superior strategy when the market reverses. Rather than staying with an initial portfolio allocation, the way robo-advisors do, Fisher Investments will lower your exposure to stocks, and increase your holdings in fixed income and cash assets. This will minimize losses in a declining market.
That’s the kind of investment management that Fisher Investments offers. And it may well produce higher investment returns over the very long term.
Investing in stock markets involves the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
Fisher Investments Alternatives
Not everyone is comfortable managing their own investments. In fact, that’s probably true of most people. Right now, a lot of people are gravitating toward robo-advisors, largely because they charge much lower fees than human investment advisors.
If you want support managing your investments but don’t want to (or can’t) work with Fisher Investments, here are some other options to consider.
When you don’t have the time or energy to invest in your portfolio but you have the desire to participate, you should consider a robo-advisor. There are many benefits to using robo-advisors, it’s easy on the wallet, low maintenance and a great way for beginners to make an entrance into the investing world.
One of our favorite robo-advisors is Betterment. You can open a Betterment account now with zero dollars and not have to worry about a fee since fees are based on your account balance. Another major robo-advisor is Wealthfront. We put both of these robo giants to the test. Find out which one is best for you in our Betterment vs. Wealthfront match-up. Or, click the link below to compare all the best robo advisors.
Related: Best Robo Advisors for 2023
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