Buckets of Money

buckets of money

Radio personality Raymond J. Lucia, Sr. got in trouble with the SEC. An administrative law judge made it official and issued an initial decision in the case. Lucia will barred from associating with any investment adviser, broker or dealer, the investment adviser registrations for him and his firm are revoked, and is stuck with a $50,000 penalty against him and a $250,000 penalty against his former IA firm.

Judge Elliot’s decision found that that firm had violated the investment adviser antifraud statutes and that Lucia had aided and abetted the firm’s violations. “Judge Elliot’s initial decision vindicates the Division of Enforcement’s original position that Lucia and RJLC misled the investors who attended their seminars by claiming that the Buckets of Money strategy had been successfully backtested when in fact it had not been,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.

It’s not over yet. Lucia and RJLC have 21 days from the date of the decision to appeal the decision. I suspect they will appeal.

The SEC found four flaws in Lucia’s performance marketing, with the misleading application of:

  1. historical inflation rates
  2. investment adviser fee impact
  3. returns on Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) securities, and
  4. reallocation of assets.

The biggest problem cited by the judge was the backtesting use of REITs in the fictional portfolios that went back to 1966. Lucia used an assumed dividend rate of 7%, but is alleged to have failed to disclose that it was an assumed rate. Another problem was using non-traded REITs in the backtest when non-traded REITs were not available during that period. The last problem was that Lucia failed to disclose the illiquidity of non-traded REITs.

Looking at the administrative order it seems that these deficiencies could have been fixed with proper disclosure. Maybe not fixed, but would have reduced the likelihood of the SEC bringing charges and an adverse decision.

One interesting carve-out by the judge was an exclusion of Lucia’s slideshows from the definition of written communications under Rule 206(4)-1(b). The SEC did not show that the slideshow was printed out and distributed.