World Financial Group

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World Financial Group
Type Subsidiary
Industry Financial services
Founded 2001 (under Aegon ownership)
Headquarters 11315 Johns Creek Parkway
Johns Creek, Georgia 30097-1517
Products Life insurance
Retirement plan
Mutual funds
Unit investment trusts
Annuities
Long-term care
Segregated fund
Identity theft protection
College savings plans
Debt relief
Parent Aegon
Website www.worldfinancialgroup.com
www.wfg-online.com
www.wfg-online.ca

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 multi-level marketing (MLM) network[1][2] of associates in the United States and Canada. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aegon.[3]

History[edit]

World Marketing Alliance (WMA) was founded by Hubert Humphrey after he left Primerica in 1991. The original name was Alexander, Inc. but shortly thereafter was renamed World Marketing Alliance. The original idea was that the baby boomers needed a solution for wealth creation and the tax protection, and that the "buy term and invest the difference" philosophy of Primerica (formerly A.L. Williams) could be better addressed with Variable Universal Life (VUL).

Humphrey created and introduced the Business Format System (BFS), a business sales and recruiting methodology, while in A.L. Williams and continued to adapt it in WMA. [4] 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.[4] The company held its first convention in Las Vegas in 1992. It was attended by about 2,000 associates.[4]

World Financial Group associates are compensated by selling financial services products and receiving commission overrides from people that agents sponsor into the company.[5] Associates use "six fundamentals of personal finance" to build financial plans. These fundamentals are cash management, debt management, emergency fund creation, insurance protection(includes life insurance, critical illness insurance, disability insurance etc...), asset accumulation and estate preservation.[6]

On March 23, 1998, WMA Executive World Headquarters opened in Duluth, Georgia. The 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) building housed 500+ employees.[4]

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.[7][8] In 2000, WMA was fined $125,000 "for failing to report nearly 900 customer complaints".[9]

In June 2001, select assets of WMA were purchased by AEGON and renamed World Financial Group, Inc..[10] Humphrey retained WMA Mortgage Services, Inc. and the original logo, which was used in his subsequent companies World Leadership Group and Hegemon Group International. As part of the conditions of sale, Humphrey was placed on a noncompete agreement and could not compete in the insurance industry until 2013. Following the sale of WMA to Aegon, 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".[11]

World Financial Group has over 3,500 offices in the United States.[12] The World Financial Group Canadian division, World Financial Group Insurance Agency of Canada Inc., moved to Toronto, Ontario in February 2012.[13] In 2008, World Financial Group had over 80 Canadian offices and over 1,500 agents.[14]

On July 1, 2013, The MFDA announces that effective immediately, the WFG Securities of Canada Inc. securities dealer is now, Transamerica Securities Inc.[15]

Industry partners[edit]

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,[16] and American Residential Funding Group.[17]

In Canada, some of WFG's provider companies include Transamerica Life of Canada, Equitable Life of Canada, TD Mutual Funds, Heritage Education Funds,[18] IA Clarington Investments, Fidelity Investments, AEGON Fund Management, AGF Management Limited, RBC, and Franklin Templeton Investments.[19]

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.[20]

Activity[edit]

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.[21] WFG's Canadian head office is located at 5000 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario.


Regulatory issues and lawsuits[edit]

WFG's stated mission goal is to "serve the financial needs of individuals and families typically overlooked by the financial services industry".[22] 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.[23][24] In preparation for Aegon's acquisition in 2001, "World Marketing Alliance 'ramped up' compliance before the acquisition".[25] 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."[25]

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).[1][26]

  • 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."[28]
  • 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.[11][2][29][30] 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.[25][31]
  • 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.[1][2][32][33][34]
  • 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.[35][36]
  • 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.[37]
  • 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.[38][39][40][41]
  • WFG Securities (Canada) was under investigation by the Manitoba Securities Commission in 2008, after some investors say they ended up in financial situations they did not understand regarding leveraged accounts. The securities commission noted that that World Financial Group "did not have adequate controls and mechanisms in place to fully supervise the leveraged accounts." WFG Securities paid a $250,000 settlement to rectify the situation. Dennis Villarin of Winnipeg, MB, a former agent who opened and trained others to open the above accounts, was stripped of his licensing and charged by the MFDA. They noted that Dennis Villarin and his trainees "made it appear to WFG's supervisory and compliance staff as though the clients satisfied WFG's requirements regarding the use of leveraging, as set out in it's policies and procedures." [42][43]
  • In 2013, WFG Securities (Canada) was restructured and rebranded by Transamerica Corporation and is now known as Transamerica Securities of Canada Inc.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c http://www.securities.utah.gov/dockets/06007801.pdf
  2. ^ a b c "Aegon in Missouri Provokes Regulators Finding Sales Deceptions". Bloomberg. May 28, 2008. 
  3. ^ "2005 Annual Report". AEGON Review of Operations: Americas. Retrieved February 2, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d http://www.huberthumphrey.com/flash/timeline.swf
  5. ^ Lubove, Seth (May 28, 2008). "Dutch Insurer’s U.S. unit draws scrutiny from regulators". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "C1 Rail". The Pantagraph, Bloomington IL. Nov 9, 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  7. ^ http://www.cc.state.az.us/divisions/securities/news_releases/1998/nov25-98.pdf[dead link]
  8. ^ "ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION CRACKING DOWN ON UNAUTHORIZED SALE OF SECURITIES PRODUCTS (Press release)". Arizona Corporations Commission. 16 January 1998. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.investmentnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20010305/SUB/103050717/-1/INIssueAlert04 (subscription required)
  10. ^ World Financial Group: www.worldfinancialgroup.com Info at the Work From Home Directory
  11. ^ a b Dutch insurer's U.S. unit draws scrutiny from regulators - The New York Times[dead link]
  12. ^ Shepke, Kevin (August 10, 2001). "Flyers happy to bank on Schultz". Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois). Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "World Financial Group's Canadian Headquarters Relocating To North Toronto’s Financial District". Accesswire (press release). 27 February 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Tayti, Mark (Dec 8, 2008). "Making sound financial decisions". Welland Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ World Financial Group Inc (WFG), World Financial Group Company - Worldfinancialgroup.com - Industry Partners
  17. ^ "AmRes earns $3.5 million". Mortgage Lane. May 23, 2005. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ World Financial Group Inc (WFG), World Financial Group Company - Worldfinancialgroup.com - Industry Partners - Canada
  20. ^ "World Financial Group, Inc. Launches "Navigator System".". Business Wire. March 5, 2008. 
  21. ^ Mutual Funds Dealers Association of Canada
  22. ^ "World Financial Group.". 
  23. ^ "Business Wire press release.". Business Wire. October 22, 2001. 
  24. ^ "NASD press release.". 
  25. ^ a b c "Bloomberg Article". May 28, 2008. 
  26. ^ Missouri Securities :: Mark Andrew McEwen, CRD# 4613500 : Case AP-09-28
  27. ^ "FINRA Broker Check: World Group Securities". 
  28. ^ http://www.finra.org/web/groups/industry/@ip/@enf/@da/documents/disciplinaryactions/p012791.pdf
  29. ^ SOS, Missouri - Securities: News Releases
  30. ^ Missouri Securities :: World Group Securities, Inc. : Case AP-06-48
  31. ^ State Regulators Investigate World Financial for Deceptive Sales Practices :: Stock Broker Fraud Blog
  32. ^ http://www.securities.state.ut.us/press/worldgroup.pdf
  33. ^ Division of Securities
  34. ^ http://www.securities.utah.gov/dockets/06007802.pdf
  35. ^ http://images.edocket.azcc.gov/docketpdf/0000110449.pdf
  36. ^ http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2009/33-9035.pdf
  37. ^ Another Promissory Note Ponzi? | Investor's Watchblog
  38. ^ Kederio Ainsworth, Guillermo Haro, Jesus Gutierrez, Gabriel Paredes, and Angel Romo: Lit. Rel. No. 20768 / October 3, 2008
  39. ^ Complaint
  40. ^ SEC News Digest (Issue 2010-220; November 22, 2010)
  41. ^ http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2010/34-63354.pdf
  42. ^ [3]
  43. ^ [4]

External links[edit]