KOA's Mike Rosen tackles critics' questions about his fiscal meltdown
KOA radio host Mike Rosen has had his fill of talking about serious losses he sustained in relation to investments he made with Boulder-based Agile Group, a firm he used to advertise. As he said on the air and during an interview with Westword late last week, he believes that he was "caught in the crossfire" between the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, with the former putting his mug on its front page after staffers learned that Dow Jones columnist Al Lewis was working on a column the Post would be able to use as raw material for its own high-profile offering. Read the February 3 blog "Dow Jones Subscribers Know Al Lewis Got the Scoop on Tancredo, Rosen Losses" to learn more about this angle.
In the wake of the revelations, however, numerous readers with little sympathy for the conservative personality contacted yours truly to pass along items that reflected poorly on his judgment, in their view. Among the items I received was a sound clip of Rosen reading a couple of Agile ads, with him advising listeners to "tell them Mike Rosen sent you." The text of the first spot is available after the jump -- and you can listen to both sound files by clicking here. Also on view after hitting the continue button is a screen capture from the KOA site listing Agile Group as one of Rosen's advertisers even after his tale of woe hit the front pages. According to Rosen, the presence of Agile on this roster was an oversight; the technical crew removed the name last week.
Callers and e-mailers also posed a trio of questions they felt Rosen had yet to fully answer -- and he agreed to take them on. Keep reading to check out the queries and Rosen's responses.
Question: Did you continue to advertise for Agile Group even after the size and scope of your losses became known to you?
Rosen's answer: As soon as we heard about it, I stopped doing ads for Agile.
Question: Did you feel any responsibility to customers you may have steered toward Agile over the years to let them know immediately about your losses, rather than to wait until reporters made them public months later?
Rosen's answer: It's just not relevant. Agile is an investment company. All I can do is introduce people to Agile. If they choose to invest, that's their decision. The same applies to my mortgage company. [Rosen's updated sponsor list features American Financing Corp.] I can say, "Tell them Mike Rosen sent you," but it's up to them to shop around and get comparable numbers. And every single one of those Agile ads has a disclaimer at the end...
Question: Do you fear legal action against you from people who may have invested in Agile Group after you learned about your losses but before they became public?
Rosen's response: When Agile had to freeze its redemptions, it stopped taking any new business. That was October [when Rosen says he discovered that a significant chunk of the seven-figure sum he'd invested with Agile had gone up in smoke].
Despite his humbling experience, Rosen hasn't lowered his opinion of his own financial acumen, particularly in relation to the expertise of James Paton, who wrote the Rocky cover story. As reported in a February 3 Face the State blog, Rosen, who holds an MBA from the University of Denver, told listeners that he "spent about 45 minutes educating Paton on the intricacies of the nation's recent market failures" -- which led him to conclude that "Paton hadn't earned an advanced business degree or held an important position of responsibility at any major business."
When Rosen is told that those criticizing him feel he's in no position to cast stones right now, he replies, "That's a non sequitur. People who have a good understanding of financial markets can still lose money. What I said about Jamey is that when I tried to explain some things to him, he didn't really understand what I was saying -- and that's because he doesn't have that kind of background."
At the same time, Rosen does admit making some mistakes -- among them that he didn't spread his money around to more investment firms. "One of the virtues of Agile as they described themselves is that they were heavily diversified," he says. "They were a fund of funds. The reason I had as much money as I did with Agile is because I believed that they were minimizing risks and diversifying. So I was delegating to Agile the responsibility to diversify" -- a decision that came back to bite him. As such, he's changed his investment strategy considerably. "I'm 100 percent in cash right now," he says. "It's all federally guaranteed, and I'll stay there for the foreseeable future. I wish I had done it earlier."
At the same time, he emphasizes that "I never recommended on the air that anybody invest with Agile. All I was doing was introducing Agile, talking about the qualifications -- talking about people with relatively high wealth positions. That's who Agile was marketing to, and all I was doing was introducing them. I wasn't recommending Agile. The spots were very carefully worded with that in mind. If I say, 'Tell them Mike Rosen sent you,' that's not the equivalent of saying, 'Mike Rosen is telling you to put your life savings with Agile.' The investment decision rests with the individual."
Indeed. But for what it's worth, here's the text of one of the ads that you can hear in the above sound sample:
If your net worth is between two- and fifty-million dollars, listen carefully. In the years I've been talking about Agile Group, they've grown into a private wealth-management firm attracting prominent families and institutions from around the world. If you're a serious, demanding investor with assets in this range, their skills make them especially suited to your unique needs. Let Agile Group put their expertise to work for you in investment planning, estate planning, tax planning and much more. You'll be impressed by their knowledge, originality and professionalism. Their sophisticated and flexible investment strategies have worked in all kinds of markets -- not just up-markets, but during difficult times as well. Don't just go to any advisor. Talk to the folks at Agile Group. They specialize in the particular needs of high net-worth investors in the two- million to fifty-million range. If this describes you, call them today... or visit their website... And tell them Mike Rosen sent you.
This pitch is followed by the disclaimer mentioned by Rosen, which begins, "There can be no sure things." In retrospect, that's the most accurate part of the commercial.