Fisher Investments Reviews in Perspective

Naturally, it is in a business’s best interest to have the most favorable ratings and reviews possible. In fact, many businesses have implemented active strategies for soliciting positive ratings and reviews from customers. Agencies have emerged to create and promote positive online reviews for businesses.

However, in certain industries this practice is explicitly forbidden by regulation. Registered investment advisers, for example, are restricted from including client testimonials in any advertisement because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) considers them to be fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative. The specific SEC restriction reads as follows:

It shall constitute a fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act, practice, or course of business within the meaning of section 206(4) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 80b-6(4)) for any investment adviser registered or required to be registered under section 203 of the Act (15 U.S.C. 80b-3), directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, or distribute any advertisement . . . [w]hich refers, directly or indirectly, to any testimonial of any kind concerning the investment adviser or concerning any advice, analysis, report or other service rendered by such investment adviser...
Read more: 17 C.F.R. § 275.206(4)-1(a) (Advertisements by investment advisers)

Therefore, within the investment advisory industry, consumers looking for representative client testimonials, ratings or reviews frequently cannot find what they’re looking for. Negative reviews tend to dominate almost by default. Unhappy clients are far more likely to post a review on their own than happy or neutral clients—who very often require some prompting. 

The media warns consumers to be skeptical of online reviews

Shoppers Should Be Skeptical of Online Reviews, Mar 2016
...online reviews aren't always as innocent as they seem and savvy shoppers should be skeptical of what they are reading. The reason? Some of those endorsements aren't actually written by other consumers...

Fake endorsements—whether ads posing as articles or user reviews posted on websites—have long undermined consumers and created big headaches for e-commerce websites. Last year, for example, Amazon filed a lawsuit against more than 1,100 people accused of posting fake product reviews on the site.  In 2013, Edmunds.com, a site consumers turn to for car research, sued a marketing company that placed fake online reviews about car dealerships on sites such as Yelp and Google+. At TripAdvisor, fake reviews about topics such as hotels and restaurants became such a problem that the company employed a large staff dedicated to eradicating them.

Online Product Reviews Are Even Less Trustworthy Than You Think, April 2016
...“User ratings provide very little insight about objective product performance”...

What the study found was that there is little correlation between better online user ratings and the quality of a product...Yet consumers heavily rely on these reviews regardless of whether the average rating is based on a small or large sample of consumers...

DeLanghe calls this mindset is a “mistake,” saying that many times there are not enough reviews or too much disagreement between customer opinions to make the average rating statistically significant. (It’s also worth noting that the proliferation of fake online reviews is a big problem...)

Why You Can’t Trust Online Reviews, Jul 2014
...based on the number of complaints and lawsuits surrounding online ratings services… you should take all user reviews with many grains of salt. Here are a few of the unethical practices seen in this burgeoning Web industry: Small businesses have paid strangers to write glowing reviews with no basis in customer experience… Businesses have paid people to post negative reviews of their competitors… Small businesses have been strong-armed by Web sites’ ad-sales staff, who hint that paying for ads will induce the site to hide negative reviews and/or give advertisers favored positioning in search results.

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Trust Online Reviews, Feb 2012
It’s obviously in the best interests of a business to boost its online ratings. Good reviews and top ratings draw in customers, and also help businesses land higher results in online searches. Online reviews are so important that businesses have been known to plant reviews by employees, pay strangers who have never been customers to write five-star reviews, and even sabotage their competitors by the posting of harsh, negative reviews.

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy, Aug 2012
“The wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews,” said Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.

A Lie Detector Test for Online Reviewers, Sep 2011
For some products, up to 30 percent of online product reviews can be fake...

Several big tech companies are sponsoring academic research on fake reviews.

Reputations at stake, companies try to alter word of mouth online, Mar 2010
What appears at first to be a spin-free, grass-roots marketplace of opinions and recommendations is rapidly turning into a hotly contested battleground where public relations firms and a new breed of image makers help businesses counter negative online comments and manage their online reputations -- even giving people free products in hopes of generating positive comments.

What are sources for reliable information when searching for a money manager?

  • Regulatory Record: Registered investment advisers are required to publicly disclose disciplinary history, including regulatory or criminal action.1 In over 35 years of doing business, Fisher Investments has not had any disclosable events. Our public record can be accessed at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website: http://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/IAPD/IAPDFirmSummary.aspx?ORG_PK=107342
  • Industry Recognition: In June 2014, Fisher Investments was named as one of The Financial Times’ Top 300 US-based Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs) in the publication’s inaugural list, and has since been named to the 2015 and 2016 list. According to The Financial Times, the list provides a quantifiable and objective way to establish a group of “truly exceptional adviser firms”,” To qualify for the list, advisers had to have at least $300 million in assets under management (AUM) and be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Additionally, at least 25% of the firm’s AUM had to be from individual investors. The Financial Times then reached out to the more than 2,000 firms meeting these criteria and asked them to fill out a comprehensive application. The Financial Times augmented the information with independent research, including data from regulatory filings. Of those considered, 300 firms were selected for the list.. However, there was no attempt to rank the advisers from 1 to 300—the list is presented as an “elite group of 300 RIA firms” organized by state. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/37bd6974-31b9-11e6-ad39-3fee5ffe5b5b.html
  • Better Business Bureau: Founded in 1912, BBB is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust. The BBB collects and provides free business reviews on more than 4 million businesses to over 100 million requests from consumers in 2012. The BBB serves as an intermediary between consumers and businesses, handling nearly 1 million consumer disputes against businesses in 2012. The BBB also alerts the public to scams, reviews advertising, and assists when donating to charity. Fisher Investments received a score of “A+” from the Better Business Bureau. BBB accreditation does not mean that the business's products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services. BBB rating is based on 13 factors. For further information please visit: http://www.bbb.org/western-washington/business-reviews/investment-advisory-service/fisher-investments-in-camas-wa-22206706
  • Institutional Client Due Diligence: Institutional investors when conducting due diligence focus on three specific drivers: people, process and performance. Prior to Fisher Investments (FI) being selected to manage a mandate for an institutional client, we must pass a stringent due diligence process evaluating, firm organization and ownership, regulatory filings, prior regulatory actions by a regulatory agency, the stability and tenure of the investment management team, AUM thresholds, the number of clients or accounts, investment process and philosophy, performance and portfolio characteristic screens, risk controls, and fees. Over 150 large institutional clients (as of 9/30/2016) have Fisher Investments included in their manager lineup. Furthermore, the clients of FIIG are continually re-evaluating the people, process and performance to ensure we are meeting their needs. FIIG’s client asset retention from 2000-2015 is 97.6%.  

Awards & recognition for Fisher Investments and its affiliates

Fisher Investments continues to be the recipient of industry awards and recognition. Below are awards we have won, most recently the FT.com Top Adviser for the 3rd year in a row, and Top US-based Fee-only RIA, Investment News.

1Being registered with the SEC or any other regulatory authority does not imply Fisher Investments has a certain level of skill or training.