The hard-selling was relentless, even infuriating, prospective customers said. Marketers called homes, spammed work email and impersonated friends, colleagues and government officials.

“CALLS REPEAT EVERY DAY. I SUBMIT A COMPLAINT EVERY DAY. NO CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN. WHAT CAN I DO???????????????????,” a resident from Waterford, Pennsylvania, wrote in a July 2016 email.

Would-be clients were complaining about a single company, Fisher Investments, government records show. Billionaire Ken Fisher, its founder and chairman, provoked a firestorm and more than $3 billion in client defections after telling an investment conference on October 8 that wooing clients is like “trying to get into a girl’s pants.”

Long before then, however, some prospects were already fuming because they said Fisher’s sales force wouldn’t take no for an answer. Since 2016, 125 people have filed grievances about Fisher with the Federal Trade Commission, according to records released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Industry giants Vanguard Group, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab Corp., each had more complaints. Vanguard, for example, had 190, the fewest of the three. But Fisher oversees about $114 billion, while the others manage trillions.

John Dillard, a senior vice president at the Camas, Washington-based investment firm, said the comments contained in the complaints to the FTC “bear no resemblance to Fisher Investments or its communications with prospective clients.”  (Ken Fisher has apologized for the comments at the conference.)

“We respectfully and professionally communicate with people who request information from us, and we only contact them using telephone numbers and email addresses people provide to us,” Dillard said. “We do not make ‘cold calls,’ and we immediately add individuals to our contact suppression list if they tell us that they do not want us to contact them in the future.”

The FTC complaints add to the descriptions of current and former Fisher employees, previously reported by Bloomberg, that the company has an aggressive sales culture that stands out in the often staid money-management business. The FTC said the complaints hadn’t necessarily been verified and, citing agency policy, declined to discuss whether they were under investigation.

Fisher has received no communications from the FTC relating to the kinds of complaints in the agency’s public-records disclosure to Bloomberg, according to a person familiar with the company’s operations who asked not to be identified because of a policy of not discussing regulatory matters.

The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and people, alleging they have violated the National Do Not Call Registry or otherwise engaged in abusive telemarketing. The agency has collected more than $120 million as a result. The FTC hasn’t filed any do-not-call cases against Fisher.

First « 1 2 3 » Next