I requested information from Fisher Investments on annuities after seeing one of their ubiquitous on-line ads. Before long I began receiving incessant phone calls from overly aggressive salespeople requesting a meeting with me to get me interested in their service. I finally agreed to meet with their local representative who proceeded to show me some very fancy brochures proclaiming the genius of Richard Fisher. I was told that Mr. Fisher is better than anyone at forecasting trends in the stock market and that if I invested my portfolio of over $1,000,000, I would certainly die a very wealthy man. The representative spent a great deal of time criticising other gurus, especially Jim Cramer, whom I greatly admire. He claimed that Cramer is wrong 52% of the time, is more a showman than a serious student of the stock market and that I would lose money following his advice. Furthermore, he claimed that Jim Cramer had begged Richard Fisher to allow him to write the introduction to one of Mr. Fisher’s books. I found this curious that he spent so much time denigrating Mr. Cramer but very little time explaining how Mr. Fisher’s accounts had lost 40% in 2008 – pretty awful performance for someone who claims to be better than everyone else and fully focused on wealth preservation. Furthermore, the representative recounted a tale of an investor who became so irate after immediately losing $3,000 that Fisher Investments just gave her back her money including the $3,000 she had lost. He claimed that they never get sued because they would rather try arbitration first. I decided to give them a try at managing my IRA. At once they sold all of my holdings and reinvested all of it immediately in a bunch of low-growth and no-growth companies and ETFs, at a time when everyone else, including Mr. Cramer, was advising caution, since it appeared the Market was much closer to a top than a bottom. Within 45 days I had lost $82,000 and most of their purchases were at or were approaching 52-week lows. I contacted the institution who held my account and told them I wanted to seize control from Fisher Investments. They said they would e-mail me the paper work that would allow me to resume control but they never did so. Meanwhile, I began exchanging Fisher’s purchases for ones I preferred and informed Fisher Investments they had been fired. I told them they had no right to any management fees and that I wanted them to return the approximately $1,000 in transaction fees (for trades) they had cost me. They immediately removed $2,000 from my account for management fees, which exceeded the 1.25% fee in the contract, and said they had no intention of returning anything or submitting anything to arbitration. They were very sorry that I had not understood their strategy but never apologized for the losses. I told the advisor he was an ignorant, dishonest buffoon and his silence confirmed this. Please do not give this bunch of arrogant, slick, overly-aggressive jerks your money. You can do better by yourself. As far as Mr. Cramer is cocerned, here are my thoughts. He is honest. He cares about people. He is not trying to get rich by investing other people’s money. And, when a turn in the Market is coming, he will get it right. Not so, Mr. Fisher.
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