Suze Orman vs. 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' Guru: He Tweeted, She Tweeted

What we can learn from the spat between Suze Orman and Robert Kiyosaki.

March 3, 2010, 3:44 PM

March 5, 2010 — -- Forget celebrity Twitter sniping: Financial gurus Suze Orman and Robert Kiyosaki are among the latest to trade blows on the micro-blogging site, and their difference of opinion may influence how you manage your money.

It began when Kiyosaki, the co-author of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," tweeted under the handle "theRealKiyosaki" Monday afternoon that he "can't believe" Orman and said, "No way in hell she believes what she teaches."

Orman, also an author and the host of a personal finance show on CNBC, shot back in all capital letters -- the online version of yelling -- and took a swipe at Kiyosaki's emphasis on real estate investments.


Kiyosaki responded with a dig at Orman's retirement planning advice, saying, "If we are talking losses ... how about the TRILLIONS lost through 401Ks."

Though it was more grudge match than nuanced debate, the exchange touches on the diverging philosophies espoused by Orman and Kiyosaki, two prominent financial pros with fierce followings. Orman is known for taking a conservative -- too conservative, critics say -- approach to personal finance: invest in stocks long term, stow cash in an emergency savings account and scale back spending to pay off debt.

Kiyosaki, meanwhile, argues for starting businesses and for investing in real estate that provides monthly returns -- strategies that his detractors say are too narrowly focused or too risky for most of the American public.

Should Americans listen to one over the other? To find out, checked in with several financial planners through the Garrett Planning Network. While three argued that most people should seek more personalized advice than that provided by either guru -- not a surprising response, given that financial planners' livelihoods depend on peoples' need for personalized advice -- six others said in e-mails that they would rather clients follow Orman over Kiyosaki.

'Suze Wants Us to Be Smart'

"Suze wants us to be smart about using what we have. Consumers should listen to her first," said Frank C. Boucher, at Boucher Financial Planning Services in Reston, Va. "When they have accumulated money that they feel they can afford to physically and emotionally lose, they can follow Robert's advice and take a crack at getting rich if that's what they really want."

Orman takes a "slow cooker approach" that focuses on "allocating a chunk of your working income annually toward building wealth," said John Vyge, at Hillebrand Financial Planning, also in Reston, Va. "This method works. I see it all the time. Everyone has the skill to do this, as long as they have a good investment adviser to make sure they are well diversified."

Kiyosaki later said in an e-mail to that what prompted his initial Twitter post to Orman was a recent TV segment in which Orman encouraged people to invest in 401(k) accounts up to their employers' matches and to also put money into Roth IRAs. Both types of accounts, which come with different tax incentives, typically consist of stock market investments.

But many of the people Orman advises "have little or no real financial knowledge to invest in the stock market," Kiyosaki said.

"401(ks) s are risky investments, particularly, when we are as [Suze] put it in her piece, on shaky economic ground," he said.

A representative for Orman said she was not available to comment because she was taping her show this week. Orman, who on Wednesday night received a "Shorty" award for her tweets from the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences, did not immediately respond to an reporter's Twitter message.

Kiyosaki defended himself against criticism that his real estate advice has led many to ruin.

"One of the primary reasons people got into trouble in real estate is because they bought a personal residence at the height of the market and considered it an 'investment,' thinking the value could never go down. Now those people are upside down. The other real estate investors who are in trouble are the ones who bought houses in the hope that they would appreciate and be quickly sold at a profit. That's flipping, and I have never recommended that strategy. To me that's gambling," he said.

"I have always said, acquire assets that pay you every month," Kiyosaki said. "That could be real estate, that could be a business that could be commodities that could be paper assets. The difference is, if the asset is cash flowing -- paying you every month -- you're not living or dying by whether the markets are going up or down."

Financial Planners Have Their Say

Here's more on what financial planners told on the Orman-Kiyosaki showdown:

"Orman is an entertainer. Her advice is formulaic, generic and intended for mass media consumption. No one should take her advice seriously; but there is nothing wrong with listening for entertainment.

"Kiyosaki is a personal coach. The marketing message is intended only to create interest in the personalized advice his firm provides individuals. I have not used him or know anyone who has; but, I would presume his advice is tailored to each individual client."

-- Jay Hutchins, the Wealth Conservatory, Lebanon, N.H.

"While I can't say I 'favor' one of the dueling Twitterers ... I do think Orman is probably more broad based and more like what I would recommend to a client. Real estate is a specialty area of investing. Many people are mislead into thinking it is a passive investment that requires no work or active participation on their part.

"Most of those people fell into Kiyosaki's 'flipper' definition, and they are the ones that have experienced huge losses. The real estate investors that are in the real estate 'business' of owning, renting and managing have certainly been hurt but will be fine over the longer term."

-- Wayne Blanchard, Melbourne, Fla.

"I do not value the advice of either of them more than the other. I have learned that as financial professionals we all tend to have our disagreements. Some disagreements are over very small issues while other disagreements can get quite passionate as they deal with major issues. The trick is to separate fact from opinion and do your own research. Don't rely on any one person for all of your information."

-- Michael Miller, Miller Premier Investment Planning, Mansfield, Texas

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