If you're wondering if World Financial Group is a scam or illegal pyramid scheme, here's my personal WFG review.
WFG (aka World Financial Group) is an MLM financial services organization out of Duluth Georgia. They primarily offer an insurance product called a VUL (variable life insurance) from Western Reserve and Pacific Life.
Table of Contents
- 1 My 1st Business Opportunity Presentation
- 2 The History of WFG
- 3 Is WFG a Pyramid Scheme?
- 4 Does The System Work?
- 5 What Licenses are Needed to Run a WFG Business?
- 6 Life Insurance Training in 52 Hours
- 7 WFG Securities – What You Need to Know
- 8 WFG Objections and Negative Comments
- 9 Is WFG Really The Ultimate Opportunity That Many Reps Claim it To Be?
- 10 On the Fence? Should You Join or Not?
- 11 In Conclusion
My 1st Business Opportunity Presentation
One of the first opportunity presentations I learned while being in the business was from one of the top World Financial Group leaders named Penny Ooi. She was a happy go-lucky kind of person, but also had the aggressiveness of a tiger.
Some questions that came out of it were:
1) Is there money to be made?
2) Is it the type of business that has exponential growth?
3) Does the business offer something that people actually need?
I’ll answer all of those questions right now. Yes, yes and yes. Am I promoting this company? No.
Let me tell you something that you should know ahead of time. When somebody is trying to sell you on a product, service, or idea, they try to get you to agree or say yes as much as possible.
Why you might ask? Because when you get used to saying yes, then you’ll probably say yes when they ask you to join the WFG opportunity.
Now I mentioned that I wouldn’t join the business. I used to be part of the company and the main reason that I joined was to make enough money to replace my job.
While WFG does provide something that people “need”, it doesn’t provide something that many people actually “want” or want to pay for. Yeah, people do want to retire rich or be insured, but with human nature, people would “rather” get immediate results. Saving up money to get results maybe a decade or 3 later isn’t an immediate result. Life insurance also doesn’t give an immediate result (in many cases) and the result doesn’t go to the person that is paying for it (most of the time anyways).
Am I saying that the product isn’t great. Nope. I agree, people would be better off saving money and having life insurance.
Another thing that you’ll want to consider is the licensing fees. When I joined WFG, I thought…what the heck. I’ll make much more than the licensing fees for insurance and the securities (6/63) licenses. While I did, there are plenty of other businesses that I’ve found later that can make more money and are cheaper to start.
So about opportunities…the real issue is “you”. The potential for “you” to build a business or earn money if that is your priority. If it is a priority of yours to make money, I would rather pick a business or opportunity that offers something that people actually “want” (instead of just need), isn’t too expensive to start, has the potential to make 5, 6 or 7 figures, and also provides customers with fast results. These businesses do really exist if you look around.
The History of WFG
World Financial Group + AEGON – History, Facts, and Thoughts
Back in 1977, a football coach named Art Williams started an insurance company called “A.L. Williams”. They were one of the largest supporters of the idea “Buy Term and Invest the Difference”. To keep the story short, some of the leaders split up between a company called Primerica and World Marketing Alliance (aka WMA).
Back in 2001, a huge financial company from the Netherlands (AEGON) purchased the company and rebranded it as World Financial Group.
If you’ve run across a World Financial Group (WFG) representative, you might have heard the word “AEGON” or “Transamerica” thrown around.
AEGON is a pretty big company from the Netherlands and WFG is their MLM component. The MLM component is what allows AEGON to sell their financial products through the network marketing structure…kind of like how Amway sells their home, health, and beauty products.
I was part of WFG during AEGON and beforehand when it was called WMA and led by Hubert Humphrey, Jr.
Back in the late 1990′s, WMA was getting into some deep trouble. There were tons of agents using illegal marketing practices to build the business. The main issue was that the reps weren’t supervised that well.
That’s a big issue especially since WMA reps were handling other peoples money…millions of it. So about 900 complaints weren’t effectively dealt with and WMA went down the drain.
In 2001, AEGON purchased WMA and changed the name into World Financial Group. They’re goal was to pretty much build up the company and have strict regulations.
A few years before that (1999), Transamerica became a subsidiary of Aegon.
With all of that being said, it’s not easy to have strict regulations even though they wanted it. I was in an office where many of the reps didn’t understand English that well. The company was pushing a bunch of info to people that could barely comprehend it and didn’t have the desire to understand it…after all, they were in the business to make money and they expected their upline to lead them in the right direction.
With all of that put aside, another thing that I’d like to mention is something that most people don’t want to hear but should know.
While the reps may say that they can offer a bunch of big name companies like Allianz, John Hancock, Lincoln Benefit Life, and many others, many reps aren’t trained in-depth for these product lines and also they don’t serve AEGON’s purpose => to make AEGON more money by selling AEGON company products like Transamerica/Western Reserve Life (WRL) products. In the early years, WRL would be the first offer, then the backup would be PacLife, then American Skandia (now owned by Prudential).
The whole thing is just marketing and sales. I’m a marketer and respect marketing…but I know that many reps feel good that they can offer tons of products and give their customers plenty of choices – like being the Walmart of financial products.
The real truth is that there are many companies that do the same thing, offer more product training, more diversified marketing strategies, and higher commissions.
If you’re a client or soon to be client, don’t get me wrong. Transamerica/WRL products are great and I sold my family some without any regrets.
Is WFG a Pyramid Scheme?
The original owner, Hubert Humphrey, of the founding company ( WMA – World Marketing Alliance ) was a smart guy. He saw the power of network marketing. The roots of it were Amway. I know that some peeps out there may or may not think this is cool, but the fact that the company is still around and tied into big money companies shows that they’re doing something right.
However, with the power of multilevel marketing comes one big question…
Is this a pyramid scheme?
What gets prospects thinking that the company is? It’s so simple. Most reps feed details into their prospects minds to make them think this way.
They’ll talk about recruiting and making a bunch of money. Some reps will draw bubbles in a pyramid shape to teach others how to make money. Some will talk about creating massive fortunes in a short amount of time (ie. like a get-rich-scheme).
No wonder why people ask this question so much!
Well the truth of the manner is that it is a pyramid scheme!
…but it’s a legit one!
Most reps wouldn’t want to call it a pyramid or a legit pyramid scheme because it just sounds bad and most people wouldn’t interpret it the right way.
There’s a big difference between illegal pyramids (ponzi scheme) and a company that is a legit pyramid scheme.
Illegal ones are illegal because they bring in money with nothing (or barely anything) in the middle. When distributorships are the focus and making money from offering products isn’t, then that’s a red flag. If you want to get a history lesson on this stuff, check out Koscot Interplanetary, Inc., 86 F.T.C. 1106, 1181 (1975).
With a legitimate pyramid scheme like World Financial Group, there is a product that people are paying for through financial services. The products are mostly VUL’s (variable universal life insurance), variable annuities, mutual funds, and fixed products – most of the fixed products like fixed indexed products or term insurance is sold for appropriateness or if the agent can’t sell anything else but that stuff since they’re not licensed to offer securities (the variable stuff).
If you’re thinking about joining it as a business opportunity, let me tell you this and it’s something that you should know. While they do have products that do good for people, it’s stuff that people “need” instead of being a “want”.
Whenever you sell needs instead of wants, then you have to “sell” more to convince people that they want what you have to offer. That’s just human nature. People would rather get immediate benefits that they can see in days, weeks or months….rather than decades.
Tons of retirement money is one of those distant benefits that people may or may not see in the future (nobody knows the future of the market even though there are past results). Also, most people will not see the benefits of what they paid into life insurance since the benefit is paid out when they die. Grim right?
Well the point is, if you’re getting into a business to make money, go for something that is easier to sell (ie. needs vs wants). There are tons of money being thrown into products that people actually “want”. There’s less resistance and if you’re into building a WFG downline, it will be easier for them too!
So hope I’ve cleared up your questions regarding WFG pyramid schemes and scams!
Does The System Work?
Short answer: Does there system work? Yeah it does! Does it work for everybody, nope!
While they do have a system for building the business, it’s based on old school methods created by a company called Amway. Amway is known for selling soap, nutritional supplements and cosmetic…and a bunch of other stuff.
Getting Motivated through the System
Even though I have gone to a bunch of Amway meetings in the past, what really turned me into MLM was one of the WMA/WFG meetings. At that time, they had a huge annual meeting in Las Vegas (around the 4th of July). There was so much energy and enthusiasm from the tens of thousands of people that were there. Throughout my time in WFG, I had the chance to learn from a bunch of the leaders including: Hubert Humphrey, Rich Thawley, Jack Linder, Monte Holm, Ed Mylett, Xuan Nguyen, Jeff Levitan, Penny Ooi, Yvonne Mei, and Joe Bonini. Each one of these people really did sell me the dream of making it big.
Let’s clear the smoke and be direct here: There’s a lot of people out there that aren’t people…meaning that a lot of people are nervous speaking to strangers, cold calling, or speaking in front of a large group. While you can learn how to improve upon those skills, it will take time. I did and it was a life changing experience. However, just because I loved the experience, it doesn’t mean that every person will or will want to.
You might be told that you won’t have to talk to strangers or cold call. You can go through your warm market (people that you already know, like and possibly trust), but what happens if that’s not enough? If the business was that simple, most people would be rich which is not the case. You have to think like a warrior and do what it takes to succeed. With that in mind, if you’re not successful after talking to all of your warm market and some of theirs, you must learn how to market your business and get the word out (to people that you do not know – the cold market).
Word of mouth works in WFG, but it’s slow. If you want to build a business fast, you must learn how to build a business using something that you can afford and something that is efficient.
One of the best ways to market your World Financial Group business is by using the internet, it’s cheap and it’s something that you can do any time of day (and something that your downline can easily and cheaply do to).
However, the company isn’t going to tell you how to market their opportunity well online and neither is your upline. There’s more of a chance that they’ll scare out of it with compliance details because most of the leaders and reps have no clue how to do this. There are plenty of insurance agents and registered investment advisors (outside of WFG) that use the power of the internet to build their business and make 5, 6, or over 7 figures…so take advantage of it while it’s there for you to use.
So what’s the next step? Learn yourself and make your own judgements. The more you learn how to build a business online (ie. home based businesses or MLM/Network Marketing business), the more ideas you’ll have to build your WFG business using the internet.
I almost forgot the cost. Between my life insurance license, the 52-hours of life insurance training (that is required), studying for my securities exam, and passing 2 securities exams – I spent over a few thousands dollars. One of the most expensive MLM companies to get started with (don’t get me wrong – it does take some money to make money). They really do sell the dream to make you think that you will make enough to make it worth while…but most of the reps aren’t successful and don’t recoup their losses. That’s not just a WFG thing, most business owners have a tough time recouping what they’ve spent on their businesses.
What Licenses are Needed to Run a WFG Business?
When I got started in WFG, I was told that I needed securities licenses and life insurance license. In that way, I would be able to offer more to my clients. They called it the one-stop-shop.
I ended up getting both my series 6 and 63, did the life insurance exam prep courses (52-hours worth of them) and eventually received my life and health insurance license.
Memories…I remember taking a weeks worth of vacation just to take the 52-hours of prep courses. At that time, I wasn’t able to take them online. I ended up driving to a location that was 2 1/2 hours away and stayed with one of my uplines and downlines for one 1-week.
Was it really worth it?
The question is, if you’re new to the business, should you really get all of those licenses? My opinion for most people: NO.
Let me explain…
The biggest problem that most newbies face is getting new prospects and selling to them. That’s pretty much the whole sales cycle. While the push is to educate people…you do sell people by educating them about their problems and your solutions.
I ended up getting the securities licenses because it seemed kind of prestigious being able to sell investments compared to selling life insurance. After all, who really chooses a career as a life insurance salesmen. Growing up, I heard so many bad things about it. Now, I have a lot of pride selling life insurance because of changes in my beliefs. My beliefs changed when I became less ignorant I.
Well, to make a long story short, as an average WFG agent, you make most of your money through insurance. Most agents sell to the low-to-middle class. While that’s a noble thing to do, that also means less commissions…especially on the securities end. So in rough comparison, you might have to sell 5 to 10 times more in mutual funds to make as much as you would through life insurance.
You might wonder about offering annuities then. That’s great, but you don’t need any securities licenses to offer annuities.
Let’s clear things up
If you’re just starting out, I would recommend just getting your life and health license. There are agents that I’ve met that have made 7-figures without dealing with securities. Just with health insurance alone, you can make a big business…especially with medical rates are on the incline.
With life insurance, you can offer fixed-index tools for both insurance and for retirement (ie. fixed-index annuities). For those that are close to retirement, that offers the possibility for greater gains than your prospects bank accounts and a lot of peace of mind.
So my personal advice, get a few years of hardcore experience selling life and health insurance. Once you do that, then progress to other licenses. Being a 1-stop-shop doesn’t allot you to become an expert in what you’re offering. When you have focus, you’re able to become the expert and that’s what people are looking for…people that really know what their doing and people they can trust.
If life insurance isn’t your gig, then I think you’ve joined the wrong company. While WFG offers securities, they were born from a company that was life insurance focused…and due to their market focus, the insurance industry offers most of the hefty commissions that WFG agents are promoting while recruiting.
Life Insurance Training in 52 Hours
Are you about to get your 52 hours for your State insurance exam? In this section, I’ll go over my personal experiences with the licensing process…stuff that might be of interest to you if you’re like me. I passed the series 6 and 63 exam and the life and health exam for my financial consulting business.
While that happened many years ago, it was a crazy experience. Let me tell you my story. I remember when I first went to the meeting. It was the opportunity meeting which I’ll refer to as the World Financial Group (WFG) BPM…that was in California. I was so excited, I decided use up all of my work vacation that I saved for over half a year just to take the 52 hours.
While I did eventually pass the exam, I moved on to other things since then. So what do I do now? While I believe there is a huge need for insurance and financial services, the question is why are you in business?
That’s a question that I asked myself. I asked myself and realized that I was in business to make money. What I realized was that there any ways to make money, especially through blogging and the internet. The fact that you’re reading this is proof that blogging does work as that’s how you found my site even though you may not know me personally.
With the internet, you can promote something that people are actively searching for and make money around the clock (even while you’re asleep) – not meetings, not talking to friends and family members.
It really is a personal choice. If your hard set on becoming a financial consultant, I wish you good luck on your life insurance exam! I really believe in insurance even though I’m no longer with WFG and I still maintain my Pacific Life insurance policy that I purchased back in the day.
WFG Securities – What You Need to Know
In this section, I’ll go over WFG securities. It’s the arm of the company that offers investments such as mutual funds and separate accounts that allow customers to invest through insurance products.
When I was a rep, I used to proudly push the fact that I was security licensed (having passed the Series 6 and 63). This allowed me to sell mutual funds, VUL’s (variable universal life), Variable Annuities, and other securities except for stuff like stocks and options.
Thinking back, it was kind of silly. It’s like telling people that I’m such a great driver just because I have a drivers license.
In this article, I’ll also go over things that you should know about… the customer end and the business side of things.
WFG Securities – the Customer End
I’ll go over some things that I experienced and what my family experienced. This is the un-filtered, raw truth.
From the business end of things, I was trained to follow blindly and take action fast. The first thing I did was write a list of my warm market (a list of my friends and family members). I really believed in the idea of helping them out to gain financial independence. I wanted them to be insured and retire with some money.
However, what I didn’t know was that my upline was greedy. She pushed the flagship product to almost everybody (the VUL/variable universal life insurance). While I do believe the VUL has great benefits, it’s not right for everybody.
The biggest issue is that many people join WFG Securities to make money. When people are hungry for money, greed gets in the way.
VUL’s offer high commissions and I understood later why they were pushed…even to my friends and family members that the product was not suitable for.
So if you’re a possible client, please do your own research. Registered reps aren’t professionals and don’t count on them for advice just because they have a license to become financial “sales people”.
WFG Securities – The Business Side of Things
When I first joined WMA (what it was called prior to WFG), I was told to get my securities licenses and life insurance license as fast as possible. Why? Because the main push was the Western Reserve Life VUL. I didn’t know that until later on.
While there are other options nowadays for plain-old life/health only licensees (ie. the option to sell great fixed index products) – health insurance, disability products, whole life, universal life, term life insurance, and fixed annuities are all great products that agents could have offered while I was just starting and it a life and health-only license is a cheaper option. But it was never an option mentioned or supported at the time…not until fixed index products became popular in the life insurance end.
So if you’re thinking about joining to build a business, I would suggest learning how to run the business just with the life/health license. There is big money to be made and I’ve personally met 7-figure earners outside WFG that just sell non-securities products.
My Personal Issue
However, there was something back when I joined that would have stopped me from just selling insurance. It was the idea that it wasn’t too professional or the stigma of being a “life insurance salesman”. So the securities end was pretty attractive…that was until I learned that you can’t make serious money efficiently if you’re selling non-insurance products like mutual funds to non-affluent people. That’s what makes the VUL so attractive to sell… it works with the middle-income group and a lot of money can be made.
So if you’re thinking about joining as a rep, make sure that you understand that WFG Securities is a “Life Insurance” focused company. They may offer securities training on non-insurance products, but that’s not the focus.
As a business, it makes sense. Just selling mutual funds to the middle-class would be a tough business. Offering 401k’s and other employee plans doesn’t work for the masses since they’re working in 9-to-5 jobs and can’t solicit businesses easily. Also, most people aren’t well-connected to affluent people, so the whole known, like and trust part of doing business with the affluent just isn’t there for most.
Well I’ve given you a bunch of ideas on the client side and also for the business end. I hope that you have a better understanding of the company and why things are they way they are.
WFG Objections and Negative Comments
If you’re a client, prospect, or recruit, you’ll want to read about this so you can do your own due-diligence.
Here’s a list of negative comments and complaints about WFG:
1) WFG is an illegal pyramid
2) Most reps don’t make money
3) All they do is sell VUL’s
4) The business is too hard!
5) All they do is recruit people
About World Financial Group Pyramid Schemes
Yes they are a pyramid scheme. A legit one. They recruit to build the business and that’s what Amway and many other MLM’s do.
Most Reps Don’t Make Money
Yes, that is the truth. Most reps aren’t successful in the business. The same thing goes for real estate and mortgage reps too. The biggest enemy in any sales business is a persons self. It’s not easy to build a business and selling isn’t easy too.
All They Do Is Sell VUL’s
No, that isn’t the truth. They sell mutual funds, annuities, and other forms of life insurance. With all of that being said, WRL (Western Reserve Life) VUL’s are flagship products of AEGON and WFG that have higher commissions than most of the products. So agents will try to sell them more to make more money. The product is actually good (in my honest opinion), so no complaints about that. However, with greed and the desire to make money, many agents will unfortunately try to squeeze a lot of people into a permanent life insurance product because of commissions.
The Business is Too Hard!
Many reps will feel frustrated because they’ll learn a system that their leader claims to be simple. Yeah, a system could be made to be simple. However, all of the details and actions involved in it to make you successful is extremely complicated. Yeah, they say keep it simple. They do and they really don’t want you to over-complicate it for yourself and for their downline. Think about this, no recruit wants to join a business that is hard to make money with.
All They Do is Recruit People
No, that is not the truth. They sell VUL’s and other financial tools. World Financial Group does have a network marketing/multi-level marketing (MLM) structure. So recruits can make money from other recruits sales. That’s an incentive and it’s a good one. It does work, recruits do make money and some make a fortune.
With all of that being said, there are many other ways to make money that aren’t as hard. Let me be straight up here…WFG offers a product that isn’t what people are hungry and salivate for. Neither does their products provide immediate benefits. So if you’re looking at this for the business side, look for something that people want (instead of just need) and something that can provide results in a short time. Most people in our society are into immediate benefits and there are many other businesses out there that don’t require expensive licenses.
Is WFG Really The Ultimate Opportunity That Many Reps Claim it To Be?
After many years of running a variety of businesses, I’ve discovered that it’s easier to make money if you’re offering something that people are really looking for (and that you can make a great profit from).
First of all, life insurance isn’t a product that people scream about and go running after (it really has to be sold). Another point, most people that want life insurance don’t even think about buying a VUL (so that’s beyond a normal sale – that takes some hardcore convincing – even with your family and best friends).
Another general issue is that it is a financial product and service that you’re offering. While financial products and services do sell very well, there’s something that you should know about. One of the biggest marketing methods of traditional MLM is selling to your market (mostly your friends and family).
In America, there are a lot of people that don’t save money (and that was part of the WFG sales presentation that I did). That’s a fact as well. The reason I mention this is because your friends and family that may not save money too well may be embarrassed to tell you the truth about their finances (which is something that you really need in order to make a valid sale – you really need to know your customers situation).
The next issue – retirement. I wasn’t so much of a debt solution provider, I focused on retirement. Why? If you go around solving debts with investments, you’ll be attracting a bunch of people that are in debt and don’t have much money to invest. So I focused on retirement. In business, tremendous sales are made with tangible goods…something that people realize immediate benefits from. Unfortunately, retirement can be far away for most people and the urge to solve their retirement problems is pretty low (compared to taking a nice vacation or buying a cup of Starbucks coffee almost every day).
On the Fence? Should You Join or Not?
If you like the marketing model and you are wanting to get into financial service, then the company may be for you. Network marketing does work if you’re cut out for it. I know big people that are doing big things with this marketing model. It works if you don’t care about the B.S. surrounding the industry. Successful people push forward no matter what. As an ethical business builder, it’s up to you to make the calls in your business.
So Why Not Join or Why Should I Leave WFG?
If you’re in it for the money, think again. While financial services is a big money making industry, consider other money making industries. One of the biggest industries in the world is the make money industry. There’s an endless supply of people wanting to make money.
Okay, you might say that WFG already does this. Think about the educational cost. To become a financial consultant, you’ll have to pay hefty fees to get trained and licensed to offer insurance and security. To add to that, you need to renew your licenses and keep up with continuing education requirements. After all, you’re dealing with peoples money…a lot of it if you do this for the long term. All that stuff is good to be educated and compliant, but if you’re just looking to start a profitable business, there are easier ways.
Think About Business Psychology
Another thing to consider is: what people want and what people need are 2 different things. People need to save money and stash away more money. However, many people in America don’t want to save a lot of money and delay their short-term happiness. People would rather spend money and time on wants instead of needs. That’s just human nature. Short-term gratification is just part of living. As a society, we want things now instead of later.
While WFG does have a noble cause of fixing this and having people focus on long-term wealth, as a business owner, I’d rather offer something that people want and are willing to buy right now. In marketing, it’s the difference between a hungry audience and one that’s skeptical.
Think about this… do you think your friends and family members would like to discover strategies for creating wealth (within months) or what to do with their wealth after their dead? WFG focuses on life insurance and not many people I know chase after life insurance or conversation topics about death.
Business tip: Unless you’re super set on working in the financial services field, choose a business where there’s a hungry audience that’s craving something that you’re offering.
Does WFG solve a problem? They sure do. I still think that they help people improve their financial health. Is WFG a scam or a legitimate company. They really are a legitimate company…or else the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) would not allow them to sell financial products.
Now do I think they have the best business opportunity? While WFG does solve a need, they don’t really have something that people really “want” (a product that has a starving audience). Making money through your own business can be a lot easier if you offer something that people are “hungry for” or actually “want” instead of just needing it.