- Poor performance and lack of diversification for UK investors
- Restricted advice model offering UK consumers one equity fund only
- Not whole of market under UK regulation
- Poor diversification & over reliance on North America
- Lack of protection under the Government’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme
- High charges compared to UK industry averages as quotes by the regulator
- Better performing lower cost alternatives available for such a simple proposition
- Heavily reliant on the performance of one fund, owned and managed Fisher
- Biased approach - advice team only recommend their own fund
- Negative TrustPilot reviews (poor performance, spamming, unprofessional)
- The Fisher GTR fund charges 3 times more than similar performing tracker funds
Fisher Investments Business Model
Fisher Investments have achieved significant growth in the UK over recent years, but does this mean they are offering value for the UK consumer investor?
Fisher Investments offer investors a ‘restricted advice model’. Under UK regulation a firm must identify to the regulator and consumers as a ‘Whole of Market’ or ‘Restricted’ advice firm. A ‘whole of market’ advice firm will have access to the entire market, and will advise clients on which funds are in their best interests to meet their risk profile and objectives, based on research and analysis of all funds in the various sectors. While a ‘restricted’ firm will have a small panel of funds, and use these whether they perform well or not. The majority of advice firms in the UK opt to be ‘whole of market’, on the basis that they have more value to offer clients.
Fisher Investments offer the most restricted proposition in the UK, as their panel consists of one equity fund only, which is their own fund, the Purisima GTR fund. All recommendations from the Fisher team will include this fund.
Fisher Investments have taken their aggressive selling strategies and simplified proposition from their US counterparts and developed Fisher Investments Europe Limited to become one of the largest 'restricted' investment offerings in the UK.
Fisher Investments promote their model as efficient and low cost, but in reality there are many issues and risks with their approach.
In this article we provide investors with a factual and independent review of Fisher Investments, detailing the risks, lack of diversification, performance, and comparative high costs experienced by Fisher clients for what they receive.
Yodelar.com offer a regulated whole of market advice service to UK consumer investors. We have been reviewing fund managers for over a decade, with a single goal in mind - identify the best funds and fund managers based on factual information.
A lot of our research we publicise for free in our monthly Top Funds Report, Fund Manager League table, Fund manager reviews, Monthly Investor Magazine, and regular investor insights. We do this so that consumers are aware of the vast differences between competent and less competent fund managers.
A large part of our business is reviewing over 100 fund managers and over 88,000 funds on an ongoing basis, comparing them against each other to identify trends, and who performs better when compared to their sector peers. Investors can access information free for 7 days by registering for Investor Hub, our fund research platform.
Funds offered to UK consumers must classify themselves under an Investment Association sector. The Investment Association (IA) is the regulator of fund managers here in the UK. Our ongoing analysis of all funds in these sectors allow us to assess and rank funds based on their performance over varying time frames against their peers. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns, but we want to understand which fund managers primarily maintain top quartile (top 25% position in their sector), versus consistently in the bottom quartile (worst 25% of their sector).
In 2019 we started our own regulated advice offering (Yodelar Investments) with a simple proposition - offer portfolio management and full financial advice service to high net worth investors in an independent whole of market basis to help investors invest efficiently.
While we work the same as most reputable advice firms, we offer independent whole of market advice to clients wanting to invest efficiently. We continue to analyse the markets and have exceptional knowledge on sector and fund performance. We report to our clients on a quarterly basis detailing the ranking and performance of the funds they are invested in.
What does investing efficiently look like? An efficient portfolio manages both risk and performance effectively. Our portfolios manage risk by using the most efficient asset allocation models ensuring clients are invested according to their specific risk profile across multiple sectors and asset classes. We also use the most efficient fund managers across the entire investment market. As a ‘whole of market’ advice firm, we assess all brands in the various sectors to determine who our clients' money should be invested with.
As well as highlighting other aspects of the Fisher proposition, we will also include a performance comparison of the one fund offered by Fisher Investments to other same sector funds, and low cost alternatives, over different time periods.
We extensively review Fisher's restricted proposition for UK investors and assess the funds and portfolios they offer (mix of GTR and Fixed interest), analysing their performance and composition. What we identified is that their investment portfolios have consistently failed to beat the benchmark with lower cost options delivering better returns available to UK investors.
Risk Warning - The value of investments referred to on this website can go down as well as up and you may lose some or all the capital you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns. The information on this website is not a personal recommendation to you to invest. If you are in doubt about any investment, consult a FCA-authorised investment firm such as Yodelar Investments.
Who Are Fisher Investments?
Fisher Investments are a US based firm, who were founded in 1979 by Ken Fisher. As a media personality in America, Ken Fisher is very much the face of Fisher Investments, with the firm regularly referencing his experience, market expertise and ability to spot bear markets before they happen.
Fisher was one of the first to expand from traditional marketing strategies and use alternative sales techniques such as employing customer service agents to cold call and push their service to potential clients, which was a strategy that has been criticised in the past for being too aggressive. When contacting potential clients by telephone, staff are encouraged to promote Ken Fisher’s expertise and his high-conviction investment style, with the aim of setting up meetings with Fisher Investment advisers.
Since their launch Fisher Investments have built up strong relationships with media outlets including Bloomberg, The Australian, UK.Investing.com, The New York Post, Citywire, Fox News, The Telegraph, Business Times Singapore, CNN, Spectator and CNBC, which has been a significant driver in allowing the firm to reach its target client base.
It was in 2002 when Fisher Investments moved into the UK, where they provide a discretionary fund management service. As of 31/03/2023, Fisher Investments and its subsidiaries globally manage over £155 billion in assets with 81% of this from North American investors, and over £12 billion for European private investors.
Experts or Under performers?
Fisher Investments are often criticised for their high pressure approach to onboarding clients. Their success in the US has derived from their sales processes, but this approach in the UK is more frowned upon.
The pursuit of superior returns remains a top priority for investors. Fisher Investments have garnered attention from investors seeking stellar returns with bold assertions of industry expertise and an ability to navigate the turbulent waters of the investment market. But are Fisher Investments just a slick marketing machine or are they truly investment experts?
When an investor initially engages with Fisher Investments, the salesperson will discuss the Purisima GTR flagship fund, comparing that one fund performance against the prospective clients actual portfolio performance. This is the initial step in the sales process, and one that often compares a favourable returning high risk fund against a more balanced portfolio without the consumers knowledge.
For example, If a client is a balanced risk profile (say 5 out of 10), the Fisher Investments representative in the initial sales call is not comparing like for like. If that client then proceeds to a recommendation report they will receive a recommendation from Fisher Investments that is 50% fixed interest (low risk/ low returns), and 50% the Purisima GTR fund, the past performance of the portfolio recommended over the last 5 years being 14.23% (with fixed interest element to match risk profile), not 66.29% as per 100% invested in the equity fund, and discussed in the initial call.
Important Point: Any investor assessing the option of moving to Fisher Investments should compare their current portfolio against the actual portfolio they are being recommended to adopt by Fisher Investments, not just the Purisima GTR fund.
The Limitations of Investing With Fisher Investments
As Fisher Investments recommend their own equity fund only, and not a suitable diversified portfolio of funds with increased protection across multiple fund management brands, they are unable to change the weighting in various sectors by adjusting their asset allocation model of multiple funds. Fisher Investments therefore adopt a discretionary model to help them address such issues.
As a discretionary fund manager, Fisher Investments are able to make alterations to their Purisima GTR fund itself, without prior notification or permission from their clients. It is by making changes to the fund that Fishers manage their portfolio strategy. But this has huge limitations that are often ignored.
By only using one fund (Purisima GTR) to represent the equity portion of their portfolios, all Fisher clients will by default follow the exact same equity strategy. The only difference between client portfolios is how much of their overall assets are held in fixed interest funds - which Fisher use to adjust a portfolio's risk level on the basis that a higher weighting in fixed interest ETFs will lower the portfolio's risk exposure.
This can be seen as a one size fits all approach, and one that can be suboptimal depending on each investor's risk tolerance, time horizon and overall portfolio objectives. Also, should investors wish to see a breakdown of their portfolio's performance and keep track of how efficiently it is performing in each region/sector, this is simply not possible.
Fishers Purisima Global Total Return Fund
In this section we assess in detail the return of Fisher Investments, own flagship fund, comparing the charges and performance of the fund over varying time frames.
Sector Average Returns
Below we show the performance of Fisher’s Purisima Global Total Return fund alongside the average performance of the IA Global sector, which is the investment association sector the fund is classified under.
Since its launch, the Fisher Purisima GTR fund has managed to return growth of 332.42%, which as the chart identifies practically matches the average returns for the IA Global sector where it is classified.
Fisher Investments’ key decision-makers for client portfolios has over 150 combined years of industry experience. They are supported by Fisher Investments’ extensive research staff. While this may seem impressive, the reality is that since its launch in 2002, the Fisher GTR fund has delivered sector average returns and simply tracked the index. Since launch results indicate that the fund is merely a tracker for which clients are overpaying 1% per annum. Also according to Trustnet, and other sources with all their expertise Fisher Investments sub contract the management of the Purisima fund here in the UK to Link Fund Solutions Ltd.
Most IFA firms (such as Yodelar Investments) will use multiple fund manager brands, not all fund management brands are good in all sectors, so a more diverse portfolio is required to invest efficiently. We use the largest most financially strong brands available such as BlackRock/iShares, Vanguard, JP Morgan, Schroders, Threadneedle, M&G, Baillie Gifford and Legal & General, all of which have more assets under management, greater financial strength, and extensively more expertise than Fisher Investments.
As identified by our analysis, Fisher’s equity fund (Purisima GTR) has failed to outperform the benchmark or the sector average since it launched in 2002, with a low cost index tracker fund returning similar results at a third of the cost. But within the IA Global sector, there are a wide range of actively managed options available to investors that have consistently outperformed the sector average.
Risk Warning - Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.
The above comparison includes a small selection of the available funds on the market that have been active since the launch of Fisher’s GTR in 2002. While past performance is not a guarantee of future returns, the graph provides a representative example of how much growth was achieved by alternative funds available on the market.
The chart highlights the significant difference between the average return of the Fisher Purisima GTR fund and consistently better performing alternatives.
It is also important to note that not only have each of the funds featured in the above chart outperformed Fisher’s fund by a considerable margin, but they also have significantly lower charges.
Important Point - On average, these 4 funds have an annual charge of 0.68%, less than half the 1.50% fee charged by Fisher Investments.
Although the longterm performance of the Purisima GTR fund has been similar to the sector average, this past year it has been one of the top performing funds in the IA Global sector with growth comfortably above the sector average. In the year up to 27th June 2023, the fund returned growth of 12.99% compared to the sector average for the period of 6.54%.
Over reliance on one fund and one brand is a high risk strategy. On the basis that Fisher's minimum investment value is £250k, a lot of their clients will have in excess of this in one fund only, and will not be adequately protected under the Governments Financial Services Compensation Scheme as detailed further in this article.
Risk Warning: Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Over reliance on any one fund may limit your protection under FSCS rules. Visit the Governments Financial Services Compensation Scheme for further information and check if you are protected.
Fisher Investments are very much an American investment company. According to Fisher Investments the management and strategy decisions for their fund is made by their team in the U.S. However The Purisima GTR funds factsheet also references Link Fund Solutions Ltd as their fund manager here in the UK. In the UK they manage £7.5 Billion, which is a lot less than more well known fund management brands.
A significant concern we have for Fisher Investment clients is the fact that 74.6% of the Purisima GTR funds asset allocation is held in American companies, despite the fund targeting a global equity strategy. No fund manager is an expert in all core regions/sectors which is why a portfolio that is composed of funds that each represent a particular asset class managed by an expert in that particular market, can result in a portfolio that is dense in quality and more robust in navigating different market conditions.
Over Reliance on North America
We are concerned that (1) Fisher Investments offer clients one equity Fund only, and (2) this fund has 3/4 of its assets in one region only, North America.
According to the well-known MSCI World Index which Fisher confirms is portfolio benchmark for their GTR fund, the MSCI World Index had a 68.9% exposure to North America at the time of our previous Fisher Investments review in June 2022. At that time the Fisher GTR strategy was factually overweight in North America with an allocation of 76.4%. A difference of 7.5%.
As of 13th June 2023, this gap has widened further. The current allocation of Fishers Purisima GTR fund in North America is 74.6%, while the MSCI World Index has an exposure to North America of 62.9%, which is a widening differential of 11.70%. Again all this information is clearly visible on Morningstar, FT and Trustnet.
In our analysis of Fisher Investments, we have identified a concerning lack of true global diversification in their investment strategy. The over-reliance on one region, specifically North America, and one asset class raises serious concerns for their clients. If North America were to experience significant volatility and decline, Fisher Investment clients would be greatly impacted. This reliance on a single region/asset class highlights the need for a more diversified portfolio that includes funds specialising in different markets. Many economists, academics, and fund experts share these concerns over North America and the upcoming year. It is crucial to have a well-rounded investment approach that considers a variety of regions and sectors to effectively manage risk and enhance performance.
The North American market is key to any equity based investment strategy, but no strategy should be over reliant on it. A truly diversified portfolio that invests in funds that specialise within specific regional markets is the most efficient strategy for risk and performance management.
In the chart below we compare the performance of the Fisher GTR fund to that of the CT US Equity Income fund, which is a high quality, consistently top performing fund and one of the funds we use to represent the North American equity portion of our portfolios.
The analysis provided above highlights a significant difference in performance between Fisher's Purisima GTR fund and the CT US Equity Income fund. Over a nearly 12-year period, the CT US Equity Income fund achieved a return of 400.38%, surpassing both the North America sector average of 332.42% and Fisher's Purisima GTR fund, which returned 229.89%. The comparison starts from 31st May 2011, as this was when the CT US Equity Income fund launched.
Additionally, it is worth noting that the alternative funds featured in the analysis not only outperformed Fisher's fund but also had significantly lower charges, contributing to their overall appeal. This data serves as a reminder of the potential risks associated with over-reliance on a single fund or brand, as diversification across different regions and asset classes can help manage risk and enhance performance.
Fishers Purisima GTR Fund Composition
As the only fund to represent the equity portion of their portfolios, the Fisher Purisima Global Total Return fund adopts a global strategy with holdings in approximately 90 companies. See example fund composition below:
Fisher Investments Portfolio Performance
The 'restricted' Fisher Investments Portfolio offering is simple, invest in the Purisima GTR fund, and based on your risk profile, invest a proportion of your portfolio in Fixed Interest ETFs.
Fixed Interest Proportion
Fisher Investment portfolios are formed using a balance of their one fund, the Purisima GTR fund mentioned above and fixed interest ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). ETFs simply track a benchmark.
The names of the ETFs Fishers use are not published at any time but the benchmark they follow for the fixed interest portion of their portfolios is the "ICE BofA Sterling Broad Market 7-10 Year index".
The ICE BofA Sterling Broad Market 7-10 Year Index is a benchmark that measures the performance of fixed interest investments within the sterling-denominated bond market. Specifically, it focuses on bonds with maturities ranging from 7 to 10 years.
Fixed interest investments refer to debt securities, such as government bonds and corporate bonds, where investors lend money to the issuer in exchange for regular interest payments and the return of the principal amount at maturity.
Below is a table demonstrating the performance of the benchmark and the funds that follow it over multiple time periods.
Risk Warning - Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.
The ICE BofA Sterling Broad Market 7-10 Year Index has averaged a net loss over 5 years of -19.03% and growth of 8.33% over the past 10 years as seen above. Using this benchmark and its performance figures, we identified the weight adjusted returns of a complete Fisher Investments Portfolio.
Portfolio Performance (According to Risk Profile)
The table below shows the performance of the Fisher Investments portfolios based on the clients risk profile and using the correct fixed interest proportion coupled with the correct proportion in the Purisima GTR fund.
This is a useful table for investors who know their risk profile, and wish to assess past returns not just based on the Purisima GTR fund alone, but based on what would be a suitable asset based on their risk profile.
Risk Warning - Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.
In the table above we used the performance of the Fisher GTR fund (equity) and the ICE BofA Sterling Broad Market 7-10 Year Index (fixed interest) to identify the weighted returns of 10 portfolios. This analysis shows that over the past 10 years Fisher portfolios have returned between 206.12% growth for the 100% equity portfolio and 8.33% for the low risk rated portfolio with a weighting of 10% equity and 90% fixed interest.
To compare the portfolios to a similar risk profile offered by Yodelar, please click on the link below to book a no obligation call with our advice team.
Fisher Portfolios Versus Low Cost Tracker Funds
Many tracker funds will cost less than one third the cost of Fisher Investments. Below we compare the use of tracker funds versus Fishers proposition, and the high costs associated with the Purisima GTR fund.
The MSCI World Index is the benchmark for the Fisher GTR fund. It is a widely followed stock market index that tracks the performance of large and mid-cap stocks from 23 developed countries around the world. It is designed to provide investors with a comprehensive view of the global equity market.
In the table above we used the weighted performance of the ICE BofA Sterling Broad Market 7-10 Year Index (fixed interest) and the MSCI World Index (equity) to determine the weighted returns of the benchmarks Fisher Portfolios follow using the same spread of assets.
What is apparent when comparing the performance figures in this table to those in the previous Fisher investment Portfolio Performance table is the similarity in performance, which warrants the question why would investors pay a premium for a portfolio with Fisher Investments that has a performance history similar to its benchmark?
There are many funds in all sectors that perform better than the average or the benchmark. Investor clients should not settle for average performance unless they wish to adapt a passive low cost strategy.
Passive and tracker funds have a place in an investment portfolio, but such funds are limited to a small set of sectors, but not those required to build a similar strategy to that offered by Fisher Investments
Important Information - The information on this article is not a personal recommendation to you to invest. If you are in doubt about any investment, consult a FCA-authorised investment firm such as Yodelar Investments.
Three Times The Cost For Lower Returns
In the graph below, we show the performance of the iShares MSCI World ETF, which tracks the MSCI World Index since its launch in October 2005 and compare its performance alongside the Fisher GTR fund, which lists the MSCI World Index as its benchmark.
As the chart identifies, the iShares MSCI World Index fund has consistently fared better for performance.
However, the Fisher GTR fund has an ongoing charge of 1.50%, which is 3 times more than the 0.50% charge for the iShares World Index fund.
With such a restrictive offering, high charges and portfolio performance that fail to beat the benchmark, Fisher Investments are proving to be a good advert for low cost passive investment strategies.
Fisher Investments Charges & Fees
Fisher Investments do provide an advice service within their charging structure. This will also include product solutions/recommendations, how to meet objectives etc. On this basis the reader must understand that what they pay Fisher Investments is not only to invest in a small number of restricted funds.
However, based on our research we have identified that there are other options (including our own) that will give investors better diversification, better performance, lower costs and ultimately better value for money.
Fisher Investments only advise clients with a minimum investment value of £250,000.
Their initial charges have a sliding scale that starts from 2.25% and drops to zero for clients of over £3 million. However, all Fisher Investments clients will have to pay a one-off advice fee of £825 irrespective of the sum they invest.
Yodelar Investments charge an initial fee of 2%, but this is capped at £5,000 no matter the investment value. Yodelar do not charge a one off advice fee, but should an investor receive a full advice and recommendation report and decide not to move forward as a client, Yodelar will charge £750.
A client with a £250,000 initial investment would pay £7,075 to Fisher Investments for their restricted proposition, or £5,000 initial to Yodelar Investments for access to the leading and financially stronger fund management brands. In this example the investor will pay an increased initial fee of £2,075 to Fisher Investments.
A client with a £450,000 initial investment would pay £7,575 to Fisher Investments, or £5,000 initial to Yodelar, an increased difference of £2,575 payable to Fisher Investments. The initial fee drops to 1.5% with Fisher for investments from £300,000.
A client with a £750,000 initial investment would pay £8,325 to Fisher Investments for their restricted one equity fund offering, or £5,000 initial to Yodelar Investments for a more diverse whole of market offering. In this example the investor will pay £3,325 more of an initial fee to Fisher Investments.
Fisher Investments charge 1.5% ongoing for the first £500.000, 1.25% per annum for the next £500,000, 1.125% for the next 9 million, and 0.90% for anything above £10 million.
Yodelar Investment charge all clients 0.75% per annum for a full ‘whole of market’ advice service.
Fisher charge custodian/platform charges of 0.10% - 0.20% per annum, via Yodelar investors will pay between 0.15% to 0.21% per annum depending on the clients investment value.
Fisher Investments charge between 0% - 1.23% in transaction costs. Investing via Yodelar clients will pay a fund charge based on the recommended portfolio. This will range from 0.12% per annum to 0.83% per annum depending on attitude to risk. Please note these charges are not paid to Yodelar but to the funds recommended. As an example, our most popular portfolio, low balanced portfolio (risk category 5) has a blended annual charge of 0.57% per annum.
It is difficult to compare ongoing fees for a client until we are sure of their risk profile /attitude to risk. We therefore recommend that investors who are clients of Fisher Investments or considering investing with Fisher Investments book a no obligation call with our ‘whole of market' advice team to get a more accurate cost comparison.
Are Fisher Clients Paying Too Much?
A £500,000 investment with Fisher invested in a split of 60% in their equity fund and 40% in fixed interest will accrue an initial charge of 1.00% or £5,000, with a further additional charge of approximately 0.06% levied to build the portfolio.
The ongoing management charge would be 1.50%, but after additional ongoing equity and fixed interest charges are applied as well as custodian and administration fees, the total would be 1.79%. However, this figure could be higher again depending on the portfolios weighting in equity and fixed interest funds.
Using the above example we regard Fisher Investments’ costs to be on the high side for such a simple sliding scale templated offering with limited options.
Their fees are at the higher end of the industry scale and as we have identified earlier in our article, a low cost MSCI World tracker fund would have delivered similar growth to their Fishers GTR fund since it launched in May 2002, therefore investors should consider whether or not they are really getting value for money with Fisher Investments.
Limited Government Protection
One of the major limitations to investing in the one brand, such as Fisher Investments, is the lack of protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In fact many investors are unaware of this when investing.
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
The UK Government guarantees to protect investors assets up to £85,000 per provider. ‘Whole of market’ Investment advisers can maximise your protection by investing their clients in a portfolio that utilises several fund management brands. As Fisher Investments as a restricted advice service only offer one equity fund and do not diversify the equity portion of their portfolios across multiple fund managers, their clients will only have limited protection under the FSCS.
With a minimum entry value per client of £250,000 this will leave the vast majority of Fisher Investment clients unprotected under the Government scheme, something that would be completely avoidable under the guidance of a quality whole of market /independent financial advice firm.
To maximise protection under the FSCS and mitigate the risk of a fund provider failing investors can spread their portfolio of funds across multiple providers. Yodelar Investments employs a comprehensive process for building and maintaining efficient portfolios for performance and security to maximise protection where possible for clients.
All investors can access the Government checker to assess how well they are protected under the Government's Financial Services compensation scheme. To avail of this free service click here.
Fisher Investments restricted offerings feels more like a passive investment strategy but actively priced. The fact that the Fisher GTR fund has failed to outperform the benchmark certainly makes tracker funds more attractive. But it's important to understand that there are a number of high quality portfolios that provide investors with the opportunity to outperform multiple benchmarks. Clients should always explore the diversification, risk, performance and cost of multiple recommendations before opting for one offering.
Research shows that by investing in a portfolio that is constructed of specialist, high quality performing funds within each core asset class, investors can achieve higher returns in the medium to long term scenario compared to simply investing in an index tracker fund.
At Yodelar Investments our portfolios are constructed using a mix of actively managed and tracker funds, weighted to different risk strategies that are designed to provide investors with exceptional growth opportunities. Rather than simply tracking a benchmark our portfolios contain funds that are managed by experts who specialise within their target sector and asset class. As such, these fund managers have the ability to actively analyse market trends, identify investment opportunities, and make more dynamic investment decisions.
While past performance is not a guarantee of future returns, funds with a proven track record of generating above sector average returns indicate the presence of skilled fund managers, effective investment strategies, and robust research capabilities, which can continue to drive outperformance in the future. We do not feel it is a lot to ask that a fund manager achieve the top 25% in their sector, or above the sector average.
Our aim is to provide enhanced transparency to help UK investors conduct their own due diligence and make better investment decisions.
For a firm like Fisher Investments who charge a high level of fees and fail to outperform the benchmark over the long term, investors are advised to research their options. Whole of market and diversification over multiple fund management brands is always relevant when protecting your investment/pension portfolio.
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