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.”