The "Buckets of Money" Seminars: Who Pays?
Ray “Buckets of Money” Lucia, the host of an investment radio talk show, has been going around the country hosting retirement seminars with actor Ben Stein.
The seminars are free to attend, but they’re not free. Someone is paying for them. If you’re considering investing with Lucia, it’s important to understand that the person who may wind up paying is you.
Money for the “Buckets of Money” seminars comes out of the pockets investors in RJL Wealth Management, according to Lucia’s own client disclosure.
In addition to being the main sponsor of Lucia’s seminars, RJL Wealth Management advertises on his radio show. It pays Lucia a fee for referring potential clients. It also pays him hourly consulting fees. The amount of this compensation is not disclosed.
RJL manages more than $300 million in assets in 4,880 accounts, according to its filing with federal regulators.
As I noted in an earlier post on Lucia’s fees, the RJL Wealth Management Program charges staggeringly high fees of as much as 2.9 percent annually.
Lucia’s SEC disclosure states that for his solicitation and consulting, he receives a portion of the fees collected by RJL Wealth Management that “shall not exceed 1 percent” annually. One percent of $300 million is $3 million a year.
You would be forgiven that Lucia is essentially paying himself. In fact, Lucia is being paid by his son, Ray Junior, who runs RJL Wealth Management. Dad is listed as a consultant and member of the advisory board (along with Ben Stein).
The arrangement between the Lucias leads inexorably to a conflict of interest.
Both Lucia junior and senior are SEC registered investment advisers. Registered investment advisers are considered fiduciaries, which means they have a legal duty to put their clients’ interests first. So whose interests come first clients or Lucia father and son?
I think the answer can be found in a complaint against Lucia Senior that was filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in December.
An unnamed client accused Lucia of breach of fiduciary duty for failure to execute stop loss orders in between June and December 2008 when markets plummeted in the depths of the financial crisis.
The client claimed $24,631 in damages. Lucia settled for $18,000 for “business considerations in order to avoid the cost of arbitration,” according to FINRA.
According to FINRA’s summary of the case:
Mr. Lucia was listed as a joint representative on the account for administrative purposes, but did not interact with the client and made no recommendations or representations, as those alleged or otherwise.
In other words, Lucia really had nothing to do with the account or the client. His name was on the account only “for administrative purposes.”
Ray Lucia Defamation Threat
For more visit: A Professional’s View of Ray Lucia’s Non-Traded REITs
Investor and local radio talk show host Ray “Buckets of Money” Lucia has threatened to sue me for $300,000 for defamation over a blog post I wrote last month.
Robert K. Butterfield, a San Diego attorney, is outraged that I dared to besmirch the good name of Raymond J. Lucia, who dispenses financial wisdom on a daily radio show in several big media markets. This is after all the same man actor Ben Stein recently described in an opinion piece in The New York Times as a “stock guru.”
Attorney Butterfield insists that I must stop pointing out Lucia’s relationship to San Diego-based First Allied Securities, which recently agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it failed to supervise one of its employees.
He also demands that I never again repeat the blasphemy that fees for Lucia account run as high as 2 percent, paid quarterly in advance. (Lucia Defamation Threat Letter)
Your statement that Mr. Lucia’s company has never charged a management fee of 2% is completely false and another intentional malicious act. His company has never charged a management fee of over 1% even though they have the ability to charge up to 2% — but you did not bother to check this — did you?
Even though Lucia’s own SEC disclosure plainly states “The standard annual managed fees for RJL [Raymond J. Lucia] Adviser Directed accounts are 2 percent,” Attorney Butterfield has a point. Fees for one “wealth management” program pushed by Lucia actually run as high as 2.9 percent
That is an eye-popping number. It’s about half of the compound rate of return of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the past 50 years. That fee is assessed on the entire value of whatever you invest with Lucia, even if he loses money. It makes me wonder whose wealth is really being “managed” here.