Martin Zweig, a leading Wall Street analyst, tells this story:

A rabbi, a Hindu and a stock market analyst ask a farmer to put them up for the night. The farmer agrees, but says one of them has to sleep in the barn.

First the Hindu goes. Five minutes later, there's a knock at the door. It's the Hindu, who says he's sorry but he can't sleep in the barn because there's a cow there.

Then the rabbi goes out. But five minutes later there's a knock at the door and he's back. He says he's sorry he can't sleep in the barn because there's a pig there.

So the analyst goes out. Five minutes later, there's another knock at the door. It's the cow and pig.

That, in a snapshot, is how broker C. David Chase thinks investors should act toward Wall Street. When the analysts -- or the stock salesmen, bankers, tax-shelter vendors, mutual fund managers or financial planners -- come to call, take a cue from the cow and the pig and make a quick getaway. Otherwise, you may wake up one morning and find grandma's trust fund has dwindled to the point where it will only buy a cup of coffee and a jelly donut.

Chase is an E.F. Hutton vice president and author of Mugged on Wall Street (Simon & Schuster, $19.95), a sedate but worthwhile expose' that bears a lengthy subtitle: An Insider Shows You How to Protect Yourself and Your Money From the Financial Pros. At one time, the phrase was more combative: Everything Your Broker Never Wanted You to Know. Moreover, the book originally was going to be published pseudonymously, as by "David X." Do these retreats mean the book itself has also been watered down?

"Actually, the subtitle was created without any discussion with me," says Chase, 37. "Upon discussion, I said heck, this is not truth in advertising. It only referred to brokers, and I was talking about all financial types.

"As far as the David X versus David Chase, I had eventually told Hutton what I had written, so it was ludicrous to think I could have remained {anonymous}. And if I was putting it on the line, I had a responsibility for being identified. I didn't want to be cute."

He isn't, and neither is his book, although parts are quite lively. Some of Chase's zingers:

"The Street, through its marketing ability, is extremely good at making magic out of math. And although its math may be 'correct,' it can also make either unrealistic or downright misleading impressions for the investors."

" ... it's quite a juggling act for a rookie to blame the vagaries of the brokerage business while at the same time convincing his clients that it's a science. In fact, the market bears a far greater resemblance to Las Vegas than MIT."

"The regulators of brokers and insurers test and license a lot of aspiring brokers and agents, but it is up to you to weed out the turkeys. These days, feathers are flying everywhere."

Investment "gurus belong in carnivals, but instead they operate, for the most part, out of newsletters with circulations of 10,000 or more." Investment newsletters, meanwhile, "have runs of good luck but can't be depended upon for long-term investment advice."

"The bottom line is, don't trust the system. It can hurt you," says Chase, who notes that he hurt, unwillingly and unintentionally, some of his clients in his first years as a broker.

It took him "six or seven years," he admits, to figure out that the average tax shelter had 20 percent or more fees, when you got the math done. There went a big slice of potential profit. As he writes: "Brokers sell failures more than we like to admit, and far more than the public knows."

After a healthy dose of this -- and Chase is as critical of financial planners, money managers and insurance agents as he is of brokers -- you might be planning to do something a little more cautious with your money. Like burying it in the back yard. Or you may even take the wipeout view: My broker is only making me broke, so I might as well blow it all on a couple of weeks in Venice.

Don't give up, says Chase. The best person for your money is (surprise!) a broker. It's all a question of separating the real from the counterfeit, the junk bonds from the blue chips.

"If I left the business and were on the other side of the fence, I would be confident using 20 or 30 percent of the brokers in every brokerage," he says. "Of that other 70 percent, 20 percent are terrible, and the rest are just plain normal people. I'm not saying you're always going to get bagged by them, but I wouldn't want them."

Even the terrible 20 are probably not doing illegal things. They're just full of benign neglect, stupidity or laziness. And they will nail you if you don't watch out. From these no doubt stem the majority of the 15,706 complaints about brokers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last fiscal year -- up about 70 percent in six years.

The chance, then, is small of getting a broker whose advice is worth listening to. So why bother looking for one, and why especially the full-service type -- both of which, coincidentally, Chase is?

Obviously, if you have strong feelings about which investments to purchase, or are convinced you have a magic touch, you can use a discount broker. He won't give you any advice or guidance, but at least he can execute your trades more cheaply. But if you aren't sure what you desire, or want to investigate buying a range from mutual funds or an annuity to zero-coupon bonds or a financial plan, Chase argues that the full-blown route is best.

"When brokers are good, they're going to beat everyone," he says. "We have done this motif of investments longer than anyone, and our fees aren't going to be worse than any major competitor," such as a bank or money manager.

While you can't float into any financial office and assume you're going to get great service, you can grease the odds a bit. Some questions Chase suggests asking a potential broker, just to let him know you know what's up:

If I bought this investment you're touting but then wanted to sell it next week, what withdrawal fees, penalties, sales commissions or other charges would I incur?

What's the negative? If it's not mentioned, you haven't got the straight low-down. There's risk to everything, whether it's the stock falling apart, the precious metal taking a plunge, high fees for a load mutual fund, or new tax laws weakening your shelter.

How long have you been in the business? A rookie may be more enthusiastic, but a senior broker knows more products and more pitfalls. Would you want a doctor slicing open your stomach who had never done this particular operation before?

What's the track record on this venture? If the broker gives you the last 12 months, ask for the last three years. Maybe he was picking the best period possible. The reverse can also occur -- if someone keeps quoting 10 years, that's probably because the first four were great. Ask for just the last three.

You could also ask what his areas of specialization are, what type of clients he has, and what businesses he doesn't deal in. Furthermore, this questioning approach is encouraged for all types of financial deals, not just brokers. If an insurance agent has given you just one policy to discuss, for instance, ask what his second favorite is, just to give a comparison.

"One of the biggest strains in asking these questions is that you might have to come across as more sophisticated than you are," says Chase.

"But if you have someone who was throwing curves, maybe they'll calm down and throw straight. Having an aura of sophistication, be it deserved or not, can't do anything but help."

Oh, and one other thing: Good luck. You'll need it.