World Financial Group
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"Your Dreams, Our Strategies."
|Founded||2001 (under Aegon ownership)|
|Headquarters||11315 Johns Creek Parkway
Johns Creek, Georgia 30097-1517
Unit investment trusts
Identity theft protection
College savings plans
World Financial Group (WFG) is a financial services marketing organization based in Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, that markets investment, insurance, and various other financial products through a network of associates in the United States and Canada. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aegon. Although WFG is publicly referred to as a Network Marketing company (also known as Multi-level Marketing (MLM)), the company has disputed this and referred to it as "referral marketing," franchising, and corporate business models.
World Marketing Alliance (WMA) introduced the Business Format System (BFS) in 1992, a blueprint to help its associates build and run their business. MD TV, the company's private satellite television network, was also introduced. During this period, the company expanded its operations to Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The company held its first convention in Las Vegas in 1992. It was attended by about 2,000 associates.
World Financial Group agents are compensated for selling products. Agents use "five fundamentals of personal finance" to build financial plans. These fundamentals are cash management, debt analysis, creation of a three-to-six month emergency fund, insurance, and asset accumulation and preservation.
On March 23, 1998, WMA Executive World Headquarters opened in Duluth, Georgia. The 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) building housed 500+ employees.
In November 1998, WMA was fined $100,000 "for not properly supervising its sales agents" after their clients lost nearly $2 million in unregistered investments. In 2000, WMA was fined $125,000 "for failing to report nearly 900 customer complaints".
In June 2001, select assets of WMA were purchased by AEGON and renamed World Financial Group, Inc.. Alexander Wynaendts, chief executive of AEGON, was quoted as saying, "When we took the company over, we put in place very strict regulatory and compliance procedures".
World Financial Group has over 3,500 offices in the United States. The World Financial Group Canadian division, World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Canada Inc., moved to the Transamerica tower at 5000 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario in February 2012. In 2008, World Financial Group had over 80 Canadian offices and over 1,500 agents.
On July 1, 2013, The MFDA announces that effective immediately, the WFG Securities of Canada Inc. securities dealer is now, Transamerica Securities Inc.
In the United States, a sampling of WFG's numerous provider companies would include hundreds of investment companies (including mutual funds and unit investment trusts, offered through its affiliate broker-dealer Transamerica Financial Advisors, Transamerica Financial Group Division) and various insurance and financial services-related companies, including Allianz, Debtmerica, Hartford Life, ING Group, Jackson National, John Hancock, Life Lock, Lincoln Benefit Life, Lincoln National, MetLife, Nationwide, National Long-Term Care Brokers, Old Mutual Financial Network, Pacific Life, Principal Financial Group, Prudential, Shaw American, Transamerica, Western Reserve Life, and American Residential Funding Group.
In Canada, some of WFG's provider companies include Transamerica Life of Canada, Equitable Life of Canada, TD Mutual Funds, Heritage Education Funds, IA Clarington Investments, Fidelity Investments, AEGON Fund Management, AGF Management Limited, RBC, and Franklin Templeton Investments. http://www.worldfinancialgroup.com/Canada/WFG-WhoWeAre_CA.aspx#ProductProviders</ref>
Announced in March 2008, World Financial Group has teamed with Laserfiche, an electronic document management company, to launch a paperless records management and Straight Through Processing (STP) platform called "Navigator" for the registered representatives of its affiliate, World Group Securities, Inc.
In the United States, World Financial Group's insurance lines of business are generally managed by World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc., while its investment lines of business are managed by its affiliate broker-dealer Transamerica Financial Advisors, Transamerica Financial Group Division. (Source: http://wealthmanagement.com/archive/insurance-bd-shutter-transfers-reps-transamerica)
In Canada, WFG's insurance lines of business are managed by its provincially regulated subsidiary managing general agent World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Canada Inc.; while its investment and mortgage lines of business are managed by its subsidiary WFG Securities of Canada, Inc., which is a member of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada. WFG's Canadian head office is located in Vaughan, Ontario.
The WFG was named Canada's best managing general agent and top firm overall in 2006 and 2007 with an IE rating of 9.3, surveys conducted by Investment Executive, a newspaper for Canadian financial advisors.
Better Business Bureau BBB Business Review accredited World Financial Group a rating of A+ out of rating from A-F.
Sponsorships and charities
World Financial Group provides financial support for the following athletes, teams and events.
- In NASCAR, Matt Kenseth in the #16 Ford in the Great Clips 300 Series. Previously, WFG had sponsored Roush Racing with Carl Edwards' #60 in the Busch Series, #99 Ford in the NEXTEL Cup Series, and the #50 Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series.
- Also in NASCAR, Carl Edwards drove the World Financial Group Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Nov. 12, 2011 and the World Financial Group sponsored Ford Fusion in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series.
- In 2007, WFG signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with Fox Sports Network and the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10).
- On October 3, 2007, WFG agreed to a three-year sponsorship of USA Luge. In 2010, they renewed this sponsorship to extend through the 2014 Winter Olympics.
- In 2008, World Financial Group sponsored Canadian professional golfer Brad Fritsch.
- In November 2008, World Financial Group announced its sponsorship of the Nanaimo Clippers for the 2008–2009 season. Now known as the World Financial Group Nanaimo Clippers, a Tier II Junior "A" ice hockey team from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.
- The World Financial Group Classic, a curling tournament at the Calgary Curling Club.
- The World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling, a world-wide curling tournament.
A summary of sports sponsorships can be found at WFG Sports.
World Financial Group offers free financial plans to some individuals, and has a charitable organization, called the WFG Foundation, that focuses on increase the quality of life in impoverished areas, both domestically and abroad. Some recent charitable activities of WFG include:
- The Trailhead Discovery Museum
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida
- WFG Canada sposored 2 mountain climbing events in 2010 and 2011 in support of the Salvation Army. http://www.summitsofchange.ca
- A Special Olympics golf tournament in Johns Creek, Georgia.
- Contributions to Hannah's Treasure Chest, a charitable organization for children.
- Sponsorship of a health fair for children.
Regulatory issues and lawsuits
WFG's stated mission goal is to "serve the financial needs of individuals and families typically overlooked by the financial services industry". It is yet unclear how successfully the company has managed to distance itself from its more controversial US based predecessor WMA, associated with fraud, misrepresentation and false statements, and the subject of class action lawsuits, and National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) disciplinary action. In preparation for Aegon's acquisition in 2001, "World Marketing Alliance 'ramped up' compliance before the acquisition". As reported in the same Bloomberg article, Aegon's Chief Executive Officer Alexander Wynaendts said on Bloomberg TV that "When we took the company over, we put in place very strict regulatory and compliance procedures, Of course, when you have such large numbers of people out there in the field, it is quite an effort. We feel comfortable that we now have the regulatory issues under control."
Some state securities officials, including those in Iowa, Alabama, Missouri, Utah, and Minnesota, have filed lawsuits to bar inappropriate sales practices by World Group Securities (WGS). There is also an ongoing investigation of WFG(Canada) by the Manitoba government.
- In March 2011, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) reported that World Group Securities had incurred ten regulatory penalties since 2004.
- A 2004 NASD disciplinary action report summarized disciplinary actions against WGS. According to the report, WGS "submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent in which the firm was censured and fined $15,000. Without admitting or denying the allegations, the firm consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that the firm permitted representatives to act in registered capacities while their registrations were inactive due to their failure to satisfy the Regulatory Element of NASD's Continuing Education Requirements. NASD also found that the firm failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to assure compliance with the Regulatory Element of the Continuing Education Requirement by its registered representatives."
- In December 2006, WGS and one of its brokers were fined $150,000 by Missouri's commissioner of securities for selling unsuitable products to elderly people. Other cases of private arbitration "where variable annuities were allegedly sold to people too old to realize any benefit before they died" were also reported. Utah's Division of Securities has cited at least four World Group Securities brokers since 2006.
- In April 2007, WGS was fined $50,000 for failing to supervise its representatives in the State of Utah, who were misrepresenting their credentials and services rendered during free lunch seminars targeting seniors.
- In April 2010, WGS was fined in excess of $850,000 as the result of the unauthorized sale of private securities by some of its agents in the State of Arizona.
- In May 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a federal case against two former brokers of WGS, accusing them of having raised approximately $14,800,000 through the offer and sale of promissory notes as part of an illegal Ponzi scheme in the States of Ohio and Florida starting while the two were employed by WGS and using their customer contacts there.
- In November 2010, the SEC ordered WGS to pay, among other things, a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $200,000 for the fraudulent selling of unsuitable securities in the State of California, which were funded using home equity, derived from the refinance of the customers' homes into subprime mortgages.
- Since October 2011, WFG (Canada) is under investigation by the Manitoba Securities Commission, after some investors say they ended up in financial situations they did not understand. The securities commission is alleging that World Financial Group (WFG) "acted improperly and contrary to the public interest", according to documents. Next hearing is February 19, 2014 
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