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Fisher Investments
Geordie R
Posted: 21 March 2017 11:00:57(UTC)

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I've currently about £400,000, invested in funds and being looked after by a financial adviser. The total charges are pretty low ( around 1.5% ) and the returns seem to me to have been fine in 2016 and the start of this year although they were very poor in 2015. I'm very unsophisticated when it comes to investments but I can't help but worry about the future if things turn bad as Brexit progresses.
I've recently been contacted again by a Fisher representative ( having had some conversation with them a few years ago although not proceeding due to their high charges ) I do realise most Citywire users are looking after their own investments but I wanted to check if anyone has had any recent experience of Fisher Investments and if what that has been like and in particular whether their performance lives up to their sales pitch.
Thank you for taking time to read this - any help would be much appreciated.
Posted: 21 March 2017 11:04:49(UTC)

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No idea about Fisher but if they r asking for 2% of your fund up front I know what I would do....
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Tim Gatenby on 26/03/2017(UTC)
Posted: 21 March 2017 11:22:02(UTC)

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'I've recently been contacted again...'

Rings a bell with me.

I had to supply my contact details in return for some online literature a few years ago - couldn't get rid of them thereafter.

Quite forceful approach on the telephone as well, with what I thought were intrusive questions.

I felt that an attempt was being made to shake my confidence in my investment choices so that I would see accepting their services as a preferable and safer option.

If they know you have £400K to invest they are likely to be very keen to get you on board.

But no idea about how good or bad they are or what they charge.

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dlp6666 on 21/03/2017(UTC)
Posted: 21 March 2017 14:21:53(UTC)

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Before ditching your advisor for another I would compare your investment returns against a benchmark, perhaps one of the AFI indices such as Balanced, something akin to your risk level. No point changing if the current one is doing well.

An alternative may be found amongst others indices.
Posted: 21 March 2017 14:40:14(UTC)

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Just to add perspective, I did not do wonderfully well during 2015 with my own portfolio, so if your advisor was rather poor, then he was probably no worse than the rest of us DIY'ers.

I know nothing about Fisher, but do get a little annoyed by their pestering.

Regards, John
Alan Selwood
Posted: 21 March 2017 17:49:15(UTC)

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From what I remember of comments on this topic over the last few years, the general feeling was:
Too expensive for what they offered / achieved, and irritatingly persistent in their attempts to get you on board.

So stick with your existing advisor IF you are happy with the fees and the service, or look elsewhere if you are not.

Take nobody's word for it that any firm will work miracles, make you loads of money, or any other overblown sales pitch, and do careful due diligence. Word of mouth is helpful as a recommendation, but bear in mind that like restaurants, some people have more critical tastes that others!! What investor A finds excellent, investor B may find no better than mediocre, and vice versa.

One particular area to watch is that any set of recommendations should be based on what you actually said, not the advisor's woolly-worded interpretation of what he thought you should have said, since many ex-commission-paid financial advisors have a habit of shoe-horning the client into a box in their own tick-box regime rather than really tailoring the investment package to suit that particular investor; a good advisor should pose searching and probing questions to find out what the investor really thinks and really means, and create an individual portfolio to match. There is, these days, a strong probability that the investor, even with 'advice', gets the cash invested into one of a small number of pooled portfolios rather than having an individually-constructed and individually-monitored portfolio.

I speak as an ex-financial advisor (up to the mid-1990s) who earned a salary and was regularly dismayed by the way that even with the Financial Services Act in force, the old lags still kept flogging the same products that just happened to earn them the most commission, regardless of the investor's age or tax position or other material factors! (Usually investment bonds with up-front commission payments of 5% to 7%, rather than other 'similar' products that only paid 1% to 3%)

Because of the profit-motive / need to earn a lucrative living / financial regulations, etc, it is unlikely that any financial advisor or salesman or Wealth Manager will offer you anything like as good a deal in terms of initial & annual charges as a DIY approach. You will almost always be more of a money-printing machine for them than a person whose best interests they have at heart, however nicely they wave to you as they leave in their expensive executive car.

Other financial advisors who have previously, on this website, protested that they always act ethically, and in the clients' best interest, are likely to be the rare exceptions to this 'rule' of mine!

It is argued by some that the most important benefit from using a financial advisor is rarely the investment selection nowadays, it is keeping you abreast of changes in rules and taxation, checking that you have suitable wills and powers of attorney set up, and being able to alter your existing portfolio to suit your changing needs. So a one-off meeting, leading to the creation of a 'cheapo' portfolio of tracker funds suitably spread to meet your needs, but with a thorough look at your overall position (tax, wills, powers of attorney, etc), may well be a better deal than a more complex portfolio (in your eyes) with high charges, where insufficient care is given to improving your overall position.

No doubt many things I have said above will receive flak for something, but that's the way it goes!
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Posted: 21 March 2017 22:05:17(UTC)

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I agree with Alan Selwood's comments.

I will never forget a Direct Salesman working for one insurance company that could only recommend their own products.

When it was announced to introduce tax-free cash certification from db pension schemes from the following 5 April, for those aged 45 or over, he suggested to my brother to transfer out of his final salary before the "window" closed.

Worse still, he tried to flog my brother a single premium bond without recommending the same amount be put into an ISA first (bro had not taken out an ISA in that tax year).

Boy did I go for the adviser !
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Guest on 23/03/2017(UTC)
Mark C
Posted: 22 March 2017 08:30:54(UTC)

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Companies like Fisher are in the game for high up-front charges on transfer and set-up.

It may be that this website attracts only the troublemakers and malcontents, but some comments are worth a read. Some insights into how it works. As a rule of thumb, any mob terming themselves "Wealth Managers" and having "a unique product to sell" should be regarded grimly, from a distance. Rewards are based on sales; if you don't sell, you're out.

Find a local whole-of-market IFA you can trust, agree a modest fixed % fee (for £400k you should be under 1% and nearer 0.5% depending on what level of service you want). If Fisher (or others) come looking for a berth, make sure you give 'em a wide one.

Oh, and no. No, I'm not a local whole-of-market IFA :-) . Just get diversified, and quit worrying about things, least of all Brexit. I lost money by worrying over the years, only to eventually learn that there's no way I can time markets, read the future, or change anything. Diversify, and forget. "Catastrophic" market dips are followed by "historic" market rises. Shrug, leave alone, rebalance now and again, and open a cold beer.
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Milo Don
Posted: 22 March 2017 15:02:44(UTC)

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"the old lags still kept flogging the same products that just happened to earn them the most commission, regardless of the investor's age or tax position or other material factors! (Usually investment bonds with up-front commission payments of 5% to 7%, rather than other 'similar' products that only paid 1% to 3%)"

That's interesting to hear, Alan Selwood. I have just discovered that the investment bonds flogged to my parents in the early 1990's, which were totally unnecessary and inappropriate for their situations, are beginning to run dry. From what I can glean the commission appears to be nearly 8% of the annual encashments. I have no idea what, if any, up front fee was paid. I am deeply unimpressed that my aged parent has been put in the situation that now arises.

"Where are all your clients' yachts?" springs to mind!
Ray Jardine
Posted: 23 March 2017 14:20:38(UTC)

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For many years I left my investments to the "professionals" to manage. In the last two years I took responsibility for my own successes and errors. I am sure that over the years I paid for many new cars! However with a modicum of intelligence and some applied reading, Buffet, Bogle, Graham, Hale, Kroijer, Citywide and Monevator, I learnt what I had to to make a reasonable success of doing it myself.

I took many years to accumulate my investments and I am in no rush to see them evaporate in management charges irrespective of how the investment performs. (As an ex-self employed person I was only as good as my last piece of work. Failure was punished by little or no further work. Clearly I chose the wrong career path!)

It actually is not that difficult after educating yourself, to come up with a portfolio that suits your personality, find a platform and choose some appropriate investments. But you need to be well read. It is after all your hard earned cash, its worth looking after.

Re Fisher, I signed up for some info. As I recall it was not terribly informative and eventually managed to get them to stop calling and posting me unsolicited material.

I don't have meaningful advice from an IFA, but if I did I would want to see the whites of his/her eyes.

In your position I would consider getting educated whilst retaining your IFA until you have the confidence to go on your own. You might even rattle his cage and talk about high charges and that you are reviewing his work :)

Be good to hear from some protagonists of Fisher

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Ken Adams on 26/03/2017(UTC), David @ Peterlee on 27/03/2017(UTC)
Geordie R
Posted: 23 March 2017 14:34:22(UTC)

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I want first of all to apologise, to all of you who have so kindly taken the time to respond to my initial query. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have unfortunately been unable to come back to you as you're responded but I want now to thank every one of you for your comments and advice.

First and foremost I want to let you all know that that you have helped me enormously. I was letting Fisher representative get to me, with his claims about what his company could achieve for me and as a result I was getting agitated without being able to think clearly about the whole situation.

The comments that you've all provided have helped me to get things into perspective and as a result I've decided to stay with my current adviser. I will however look at the Trustnet website and try to educate myself a little more so that I can be in a better position to talk to him and indeed to hopefully avoid getting distracted by companies like Fisher!.

Once again many thanks to you all for your help.
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Norman Brown
Posted: 23 March 2017 15:55:05(UTC)

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I'm so glad you've decided to stick with the current adviser, at least while you educate yourself on the matter.

The key lessons are:
1. There are no get rich risk-free schemes and anyone selling such a thing is untrustworthy.
2. You need to compare how your investments have performed against how they should have performed. There are benchmarks galore, and you need to sift through them to find one which matches what you are looking for, in terms of yield, potential for growth and security. Once you have found it, look to see how your investments have performed against that.
3. The essential bit of overlay you then need to apply is what different you do to ensure that you pay no more tax than necessary - do you use all your ISA/SIPP allowances, for example? Do you realise enough capital gains each year to fully utilise your allowance? Do you arrange your investments so that the ones which pay higher dividends are in the ISA or SIPP, leaving the lower paying ones outside.

A good adviser will do all of that, some of which will mean that you cannot compare exactly against an index as the index doesn't have to worry about tax. But the adviser should be explaining how and why he is differing.
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Charles William
Posted: 23 March 2017 16:01:34(UTC)

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Hi , a few years ago I used Fishers. Not a good experience . They lost me money every year. So I dumped them . The best decision I could have made .
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Geordie R on 24/03/2017(UTC), Ken Adams on 26/03/2017(UTC), dlp6666 on 27/03/2017(UTC)
Law Man
Posted: 23 March 2017 16:17:19(UTC)

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Geordie: managing your own investments can be personally rewarding and profitable. From my own experience:

1. Teach yourself by reading good books, Investors Chronicle, and FET & Citywire articles;

2. Start by assessing your investment period e.g. if you are age 65 and use the SIPP fund for income, you will be invested for 30 + years

3. Assess your attitude to risk. If you will be terrified by a 30% fall adopt a more cautious approach; but conversely remember a balanced allocation is likely to do as well as 100% equities.

4. Asset allocation is more important than fund selection. Identify your ideal spread.

5. Keep charges down by using ETFs where appropriate, and avoid OEIC funds with the drag of a platform fee unless they offer something different. I DO hold a few OEIC funds.

6. If you want to keep it simple, not knowing how to select a fund or IT, you could simply have something like 10% cash, 20% corporate bond index tracker, and 70% World Equity index tracker. I do not suggest this is ideal, but better than adding funds willy nilly.

7. Once you are invested, largely leave it alone. Review, say, once a year to rebalance or replace a weak performer, but do not buy and sell regularly.

Other commentators will be able to add further ideas or criticise this.
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Posted: 24 March 2017 13:00:28(UTC)

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Surely if you want first class managers and reasonable costs, and the satisfaction of having some personal choice with loads of research on the web, go for a selection of Investment trusts and have an ISA with a low cost broker. The latter with no more than £80 annual fee. iiiinteractive I have found very good and an excellent daily web site. Enjoy.
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Geordie R on 24/03/2017(UTC)
William Phillips
Posted: 24 March 2017 14:12:48(UTC)

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My contacts with Fisher Investments are limited to having once clicked one link too close to their 'free brochure for retirees'.

For more than a year my website searches have been dogged by this advertising, which follows me round the internet like a stubborn, mangy dog. I am sick of the sight of that grey-haired fellow staring pensively out to sea with his surfboard.

Such persistence is off-putting in itself. Maybe an American outfit does not grasp that we British dislike being pestered. Fisher behaves like Hargreaves Lansdown when it has a new Neil Woodford vehicle to flog.
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Geordie R on 24/03/2017(UTC), dlp6666 on 27/03/2017(UTC)
Posted: 26 March 2017 08:57:11(UTC)

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As someone who like Alan has worked in the Financial Services sector (until 2013 as FCA authorised), I would give Fisher a wide berth.

Like SJP and Chase De Vere, they will try to push a product rather than give you true unbiased Independent Financial Advice.

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Geordie R on 29/03/2017(UTC), mc2 on 18/02/2018(UTC)
Ford Dent
Posted: 26 March 2017 09:08:06(UTC)

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In trying to get publicIy available data I managed to find just one fund managed by Ken Fisher for a lengthy period. It woefully underperformed its benchmark index perhaps due to its charges as to seemed to track the index shape alright.

When Ken Fisher salesman called with available last minute slots at the local Hilton I said I would never ever even consider them without access to the kind of long term chart data you get for ETF's and Investment Trusts and even Oiecs.

Everything about Ken Fisher when he is on TV including the way he dresses and speaks doesn't inspire confidence in me at any rate.
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Geordie R on 29/03/2017(UTC)
William Marshall
Posted: 26 March 2017 10:35:56(UTC)

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What Law Man says largely sums it up. In my experience, whilst there's no such thing as a free lunch, there is free advice in spades. Educating yourself via the excellent websites such as Trustnet, Morningstar and Citywire and then using their content and data alongside that found in specialist print media - I subscribe to Moneyweek - and even the financial pages of quality newspapers such as the FT has helped me to move from being an enthusiastic novice to a successful DIY investor. My wife and I hold predominately Investment Trusts (very cheap to hold on the HL platform) and between us we have a mixed bag of some 18 self-selected ITs that span the risk profile in our ISAs. So far so good, and whilst I do keep a (weekly) eye on what's going on, I have learned that riding the crests and the troughs of the waves is often better than jumping on and off the board in the long run.i
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Posted: 26 March 2017 10:51:45(UTC)

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I was contacted by a junior rep with the suspect sales pitch that Fisher had correctly predicted all the main stock market swings. (Not true - he missed the 2008 collapse like everyone else but did hold his position). Their fees are high with an upfront fee of - from memory- between 2 -3%. That was a no-no for me. Also they established a contact person in the US on a free phone arrangement which for a Brit is inconvenient, but maybe that has changed. His performance of late has probably been good because he has been a stock market bull, but I agree with what others have said. Either use a truly independent advisor who can tailor a low cost portfolio to your objectives and appetite for risk ( costs all in including his fee and portfolio transaction costs should stay below 1.5%), or go it alone with a good beginners investment book which does not just concentrate on stock selection, but on a combo of low-cost ETFs, investment trusts and alternatives.
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Geordie R on 29/03/2017(UTC)
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