Kenneth L. Fisher will relinquish by the end of next year the top executive role at the investment firm he founded in 1979, Fisher Investments, which now manages $60 billion in assets, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The changing of the guard at Mr. Fisher's firm has caught at least one big investor off guard. A pension fund for employees of the city of Seattle put Fisher on “watch” in February due to the lack of an announced succession plan for Mr. Fisher, according to the official minutes of the pension fund administrator's board meeting.
In an interview, Tony Smith, deputy chief investment officer of $2.3 billion Seattle City Employees' Retirement System, said consistent executive leadership at Fisher Investments could be a concern going forward.
“That's one of the primary points for the stability of an organization,” said Mr. Smith, whose colleagues learned of Mr. Fisher's plans to relinquish executive leadership during a conversation with the firm in December. “That, combined with the lack of a succession plan, was the genesis of their concern.”
Mr. Fisher built one of the largest independent investment advisory firms in the country on the back of unsolicited mailings, magazine columns and a constant stream of books.
A spokesman for Fisher Investments said in an e-mailed statement that Mr. Fisher has “openly stated” his intentions to step down in the year after his 65th birthday, on Nov. 29, “for some years.”
“Nothing about that has changed,” according to the statement.
Bill McBride at Bryant Park Financial Communications, a public relations representative for Mr. Fisher, said he expected Mr. Fisher to continue at the firm in some capacity after he relinquishes the CEO role, perhaps as chairman of the firm's board or as chief investment officer. He said a successor would likely be chosen from within the firm's ranks of 1,000-plus employees.