Against the Flow
INVESTING by Mark Gordon | Managing Editor
Chris Markowski scours the investment community for scams, not sure things.
Chris Markowski, who hosts a nationally syndicated investment-based radio show from Sarasota, has a habit of being the anti-something when it comes to financial planning.
It's not that he's a grumpy guy, per se, or even that he's inherently pessimistic. It's just that he questions a lot of things he hears when it comes to investing other people's money.
A good example is the time, in 1998, when he wrote a column for his monthly newsletter about his lack of understanding of the fundamentals of how a Houston energy company called Enron actually made money - three years before an executive-led corporate scandal at the company turned it from a Wall Street darling to Wall Street disaster.
Not that Markowski had inside knowledge of Enron's problems or was even predicting how bad things were about to get. It was just one of many things that he questioned in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the stock market was going through its "irrational exuberance" run-up.
Markowski, living in the New York City area at the time while running an investment firm with his two brothers, began to get some notice for his contrarian views. National financial radio and TV show producers booked him for spots opposite the gung-ho types.
"I was the 'anti' guy on the programs," says Markowski, who, along with his brothers, has since moved to the Gulf Coast. "I wasn't anti the economy or anti the country, I just wasn't hyping the market."
The result of those interviews was the formation of his hour-long radio show, The Watchdog on Wall Street. He bills the show as the only true pro-individual investor program on the radio, spending the last 15 minutes of each show detailing the latest scam in the investment community and how to avoid it.
Markowski's radio show currently airs in more then 75 AM markets nationwide, including Miami, Phoenix, Denver and San Diego. On the Gulf Coast, the show airs Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the area's two Salem Radio outlets: In Sarasota, it's on 930 WLSS and in Tampa it's on 860 WGUL.
The anti-approach to standard Wall Street thinking carries over to Markowski's financial planning firm, too. For example, the firm, Markowski Investments, will not turn away clients based on finances alone.
So if a client is looking to invest, say, only a $5,000 IRA, the firm will do it, even though that's not the preferred way of building a financial planning business.
"We've done things the exact opposite of what the industry says is possible," says Markowski. "We do things in an unconventional way, but it works for us."