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Posted: 1:18 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, 2012

Investment advice on the radio may be suspect



By Clark Howard


The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that the financial advice a popular talk radio host gave out was misleading.

Ray Lucia is a California-based syndicated talk show guy who has written a lot on investing. He also runs hotel ballroom seminars that are sometimes co-hosted by Ben Stein of Ferris Bueller's Day Off fame.

Now, these are only allegations at this point about "misleading" information in slide shows at his popular seminars. For his part, Lucia says the SEC charges are like getting involved in "an argument over semantics."

One cornerstone of Lucia's advice involves the recommendation of ultra-high commission private placements in real estate. Know that these kinds of things are hard to sell if you need to get out. It's like trying to run with weights on your ankles.

The Wall Street Journal's account of the Lucia news tells how one investor got hammered with losses after following the guru's advice. The part that really makes me nervous was how Lucia's son ended up with a lot of the money that people are investing. I don't like the whole nature of self-dealing.

To me, it goes back to the idea that investing should be something you can understand. When you get a prospectus, you should be able to hand it to a seventh or eighth grader and have them explain it to you in basic terms.

If it can't pass that test, it's not your deal.