The complaint has been investigated and
resolved to the customer's satisfactionResolved World Financial Group — Bizarre Cult
resolved to the customer's satisfaction
I was recently invited to attend a presentation by a friend of mine who has recently been sucked into World Financial Group. He explained it as an opportunity to make a great deal of money and said that he wanted to bring me "on board". My "BS" radar was already switched on. Nevertheless I found it hard to imagine that a company like AGEON would be foolish enough to purchase a company that wasn't on the up and up. So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
A few days before I attended the meeting, my friend told me that he couldn't wait for me to meet his "friends" x, y, and z. He said that he had been working very closely with x, y and z and that they had become like "brothers". I aussumed they had been working together for quite some time.
Needless to say my friend was very "pumped up" about becoming financially independent and had already begun parroting their terminology using terms like "Financial Cancer", "Emergecny Fund" and "Inner Circle". The Cool-aid drinking had commenced. It was clear to me that I was about to witness the latest incarnation of Amway. I've been to dozens of these rah-rah meetings and had a good idea of what to expect.
Not surprisingly, the next day I was swiftly ushered in by the usual group of enthusiastic, grinning faces eager to learn my life story. I was given a name tag, and escorted to a thumping disco of a an office party, with Lady Gaga blaring over the throngs of followers and their invited guests shouting over eachother and the music to exchange testimonials about how they'd been "saved" from their circumstances by WFG.
The presentation itself wasn't particulary out of the ordinary. It had all the trappings of every MLM meeting I've ever been to; uplifting music, charismatic speakers, promises of untold fortunes and travel to exotic locale's, emotional testimonials of "real life success stories", and all of this woven together with a sort of esoteric, feel good mantra about changing lives and giving back to the community etc... The speakers repeatedly mentioned the word integrity and said they needed to "hire" people with integrity.
What troubled me about WFG were a couple of things I haven't seen before. The first was an attempt by WFG to imbue all of this hoo ha with religiosity. Several of the speakers mentioned their faith in God, talked about recruitng memebers of church or Bible study etc... There was also a large poster hanging on the wall that spelled out what they beileve to be the American Dream, begining with faith in God and the importance of family. The poster goes on to list things like freedom etc...
While I have no problem with discussing faith, family or any of the other values laid out in this description, the idea of linking them to a highly profit-driven set of motives seems downright eerie and well, blasphemous to someone who takes their faith very seriously. Just like the televangelists fleecing the faithful, this is a cynical attempt to cash in on God and makes a mockery of faith.
It is surreal to hear people promising gold watches and diamond rings out of one side of their mouth while claiming to be followers of Jesus out of the other. Any real Christian knows that this kind of greed is un-Christ-like. They know that as the Bible says, it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.
There is also an intense desire on the part of WFG to recruit married couples. Why? Any financial expert will tell you that a single person with no dependents doesn't need life insurance beyond what is required to cover their debts and burial expenses. Since married couples are more likely to own homes, have assetts and dependents, they are more likely to purchase WFG financial products.
If you pay attention, you can see the company bringing to light its own dishonesty and lack of integrity in the way it interchangably uses the terminology of employemnt and self-employment. The branch manager told the group sitting before him that he needed to "hire" a few people with integrity to work in his branch office. He discussed the $100.00 background check and that it was necessary because if you have a felony conviction "you cannot work here". He discussed "applications" and setting up "interviews" with prospective "candidates" etc... All of this language implies an employee/employer relationship. It is intended to give the impression that one will be working for WFG. They lead you to believe you are applying for a job.
However the speakers are also quick to point out that once on board with WFG, you will be a self-employed, free agent. Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor apparently depends on the circumstances and what is in the company's best interests at the time. This playing loosey goosey with the language is a deliberate attempt to confuse people. It is dishonest and raises serious questions about their corporate culture and this so called "integrity" they claim to hold in sch high regard.
If you are going to be an independent contractor, why does the company need to do a background check? They are not liable for any of your actions as a financial advisor. As a self employed person, you carry all of the risk. If you counduct business in a manner that is unethical or make a mistake or do something illegal, the SEC is comming after you personally; NOT WFG. WFG protects its own ### by refusing to hire you. They do not have to provide you health benefits, they do not have to carry workers' compensation coverage in case you are injured in the course of your duties, and they are not responsible if you make a mistake. You are on your own. It is a VERY risky propostion. Especially considering that you may be going into business for yourself with less than six weeks training and no experience in finance or insurance. The odds of even accidenatly violating a law or ethical breech are extremely high. Think about that.
After having met with x, y and z I learned that my friend had only been with the company for a week. He didn't know anything about x, y, and z. That he was already referring to them as "friends" and "like brothers" demonstrates the firm grip these people will have on you from the get go if you let them.
So why would AEGON purchase a shady company with a shady history? Simple. Their stated aim is to have 1 million associates by 2010. If they all fork over the minumun $100 for the background check and another $60 for the online classes, WFG has made a cool $160 million dollars for doing absolutely nothing, taken absolutely zero risk and created nothing of value for anyone but themselves.