“To be sure, a strong sales culture driven by metrics is hardly unusual in financial services. But Fisher’s heavy use of direct mail, call centers and stock-picking stands out in an era when many registered investment advisers are emphasizing low-cost strategies, such as funds tracking major indexes. The firm’s advertisements say it tailors portfolios to individual clients. But former employees say that most clients end up with the same stock holdings.
One reason Fisher Investments has turned into such a bonanza for its founder is simple: fees. Depending on the account assets, fees range from 1% to 1.5% for private clients. In contrast, active U.S. stock funds typically cost about 0.7% of assets per year, according to a Morningstar report earlier this year. Index funds cost about 0.08%.”