IN HIS FACE, YOU STILL SEE the Italian kid from South Philly. Ray Lucia moved west when he was 10. He grew up in Poway, then raised his family with his wife, Jeannie, in Rancho Bernardo. Early on, he taught high school, augmenting his income by playing guitar in bars and clubs. “I was struggling to pay my bills, and a friend got me a job in an insurance agency one summer,” he says. “That grew into a passion to do financial planning.”
Fast-forward 30 years. Lucia’s independent financial planning firm is the largest in San Diego. As host of The Ray Lucia Show, a rock-and-roll-amplified talk radio program that reaches 80 cities, Lucia answers questions—weekday evenings from 6 to 9 on KLSD (1360 AM) and weekend afternoons from 3 to 4 on KOGO (600 AM)—with the help of his “brain trust,” smart guys like tax lawyer Rob Butterfield.
“San Diego has been called Scam Diego—mortgage company scams, promissory note scams, bartering scams. Financial planners must know their stuff,” Lucia says. “The radio show has been an incredible resource.”
He’s parlayed his money savvy into a multimedia business, spreading the conservative-investment vision of his new book, Buckets of Money: How to Retire in Comfort and Safety. Jeannie joins him on the road, introducing him at seminars.
Business and family mix well for Lucia. His two brothers work at the company, as do most of his children. “Ray Jr. is the mastermind behind the radio show,” Lucia says. “Dominic is network administration.”
Daughter Alana works on the radio program; Nicole is the maverick. A former Chargers Girl, she owns a dance studio. Last year, she ended a high-profile marriage to Ryan Leaf, the former Chargers quarterback who drove fans crazy with unfulfilled promise and rash behavior. “I see him as one of my sons,” Lucia says.
“He’s moved back to Washington to go to school.”
In addition to shooting a cable TV pilot based on his show, Lucia is teaming up with Ben Stein, host of the Comedy Central quiz show Win Ben Stein’s Money, for a nationwide series of seminars highlighting Buckets of Money. On May 14, they’ll be at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar.
“We get along famously,” Lucia says. “He’s got a great passion for retirement and personal responsibility, and I think he sees working with me as a good mechanism to help people.