Marketplace Investigates Controversial Financial Guru

Friday, Jan. 29, at 8:30 p.m. (9 NT), on CBC-TV

Since bursting onto the self-help scene in the late 1990s with a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad, American Robert Kiyosaki has become one of the best-selling personal finance authors on the planet. An appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show to pitch his philosophy helped catapult Kiyosaki to fame, and to an eventual collaboration with business magnate Donald Trump.  Kiyosaki makes regular appearances on network television news channels, the Larry King show and on PBS fund-raising drives. Millions of sales later, his book has helped build an empire.

Now, a MARKETPLACE investigation looks at this empire of television shows, board games and investment seminars—including a string of upcoming sessions scheduled across Canada— and MARKETPLACE host Erica Johnson asks Kiyosaki directly: what’s really going on? Are Canadians being lured by the Rich Dad name to spend money on weekend workshops that seem really designed to sell them more workshops?

Rumblings are being heard from the hundreds of hotel ballrooms where Rich Dad seminars are staged across North America. There are complaints that the focus is more on marketing and less on actual education; that participants are pressured to spend tens of thousands of dollars on advanced courses and urged to increase their credit card limits to pay for them; that the techniques taught are long shots, and the tactics used to teach them are aggressive and bullying.

In its investigation, MARKETPLACE visits one three-day seminar, which ends in acrimony when participants balk at signing up for the advanced courses. The seminar leader scolds the class and refuses to continue teaching, participants start bickering and one is thrown out for demanding explanations.

But the biggest surprise comes when Erica Johnson talks with Kiyosaki himself—first he claims he’s being crucified for his success, then he admits his own concerns. What starts as a confrontation becomes a confession, as Kiyosaki blames his partners for arranging a licensing deal with a company with a history of consumer complaints to present his seminars. Ultimately, Kiyosaki claims he’s a victim too—stuck in a bad deal as his name gets dragged through the mud.

What’s really going on? Did the man who built an empire dispensing financial know-how make a bad business decision? And will the seminars, ostensibly aimed at educating his fans, ultimately turn them off? Learn more in Road to Rich Dad.

MARKETPLACE airs Fridays, at 8:30 p.m. (9 NT), on CBC-TV, and rebroadcasts on CBC News Network Saturdays, at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT).

MARKETPLACE is CBC’s award-winning consumer investigative show. Trusted by viewers across Canada, the program has been providing audiences with tough consumer reports for more than 35 years. Executive producer is Tassie Notar.

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