Why Annuities HATE Ken Fisher. And you should too.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.John H. Robinson

Prominent money manager and master of self-promotion Ken Fisher does not think highly of variable annuities. If you did not know this already, it is likely that you have neither been on Google nor read the New York Times in the past few years. If you had, you surely would have seen Fisher’s ubiquitous, provocative advertisements that shout, “I HATE Annuities. And you should too,” above a picture of Fisher and a phone number or link about Fisher Investments.

Fisher's antipathy for annuities is as passionate as his advocacy of active management, for which he charges his clients fees of 1% or more.

Ken Fisher

Criticism of variable-annuity contracts is nothing new. As Fisher is quick to point out in a promotional video “interview” in which Steve Forbes lobs him softball questions, annuities have many warts. High sales commissions that are generally neither transparent nor disclosed, high ongoing internal expenses, steep surrender penalties and product complexity are all legitimate reasons for investors to be wary of vagabond financial advisors and insurance agents who come to town extolling the benefits of annuities as retirement-planning elixirs. As Fisher rhetorically asks, “What’s not to hate?

Indeed, misrepresentation and lack of disclosure pertaining to variable-annuity sales has been a hot-button issue for securities regulators, as is evidenced by the title of the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency’s (FINRA) Investor Alert: Variable Annuities: Beyond the Hard Sell.