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Fisher Investments’ Loss of Value

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Ken Fisher seems to have misspoken and customers reportedly withdraw over $3 billion of assets from his firm as a result. However, this blog is not about Ken Fisher, but about how fleeting a business’ value could be.

When owners, CEOs or others identified with a business or organization speak out on political, controversial or inappropriate issues or in a lewd, crude, racist or sexist manner they run the risk of customer backlash. We have free speech in the United States but we cannot control customer reactions which include stopping their patronage.

Quick apologies, retractions or remediation can help somewhat, but they are not guaranteed to reduce the furor and depending on how fast the offense goes viral, substantial damage to a company’s reputation, brand or value can occur.

There is a simple way to avoid this. Do not say anything political, controversial, inappropriate, lewd, crude, racist or sexist. “Anything” includes jokes, tongue in cheek comments or even winks. Body language shouts loudly when noticed by someone that is offended. When I say “do not say anything” I mean in every situation and every place you might be. Further, regardless of your intentions, even serious political discussions with close friends can be overheard and you might be held to account for it at a later time.

When you represent a business or organization, everything you say or do can be a reflection of that organization’s views and you can be held to account for it. You should have an understanding that there can be no reasonable explanation for some utterances and any attempt to do so is likely to make it worse.

I am looking at this in terms of the loss of value to a business. There are many other reasons to avoid distasteful actions and these are equally as serious. If you are interested in other ways value is created or destroyed, I refer you to a two-part article on the “Illusion of Value” I wrote with my colleague Lou Young that I combined in a single file and will send to you if you request it from me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com and just put Illusion of Value as the Subject. Included are over 20 illustrations including the NY Yankees and Mets, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Michael Jackson, The L.A. Clippers, L.A. Dodgers, Skype, Fox Network, WWE, Empire State Building, Microsoft and Warren Buffett.

Do not hesitate to contact me with any business or financial questions at emendlowitz@withum.com or fill out the form below.

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