In his “review” last week San Diego Anon oozes about “...a beautiful lifelong career…”
It’s “beautiful” all right. IF you love to recruit everybody in sight and personally break pyramid scheme laws, exposing you to prosecution. IF you love to cheat folks them by selling them spendy very high-risk products like Transamerica’s Financial Foundation Indexed Universal Life (FFIUL) policy--leaving you wide open to legal action. The FFIUL is a policy that, if you live a reasonably long life, is just about GUARANTEED to go belly up on you, causing you and your heirs to lose the Death Benefit and the $100,000s you dumped into it over your lifetime. For the depressing details on it, please see my 29 June review on the FFIUL.
How do WFGers get away with committing their de facto crimes? Go to “brokercheck dot finra dot org” and search on the names of some of this MLM’s higher flyers. You’ll find that only WFG’s most notorious actors have had many actions filed against them, and even then many are dismissed. For example, let’s look at EVC Guillermo Haro, a long-term WFG agent near the top of this MLM's pyramid(s). On the FINRA brokercheck site you find 13 actions against Haro going back to 1989--even before WFG existed. Click the down arrows to read the details of each action against Haro. Many include testimony from his customers who allege he sold them unsuitable insurance policies and securities and failed to fully explain them. Haro had at least four customers disputes filed against him before the SEC finally *permanently barred him* from acting as a broker or otherwise associating with firms that sell securities to the public.
Given Haro’s long rap sheet of alleged and proven wrongdoing, you’d think WFG would toss him out on his ear right? WRONG. Haro’s still very much part of WFG, still speaking at Momentum, WFG’s main yearly convention in Las Vegas. Haro’s still whipping up the adoring WFG crowds. Google “Haro 2016 Momentum” and go to 1:00 of the 5:22 vid clip that pops up. You see “Guillermo Haro Executive Vice Chairman” right on that stage at the MGM Grand.
To circle back to our question: How do WFGers get away with selling you exploitative and abusive insurance policies? Notably the FFIUL? For at least three reasons:
First, WFG agents sell lots of FFIULs to their recruits. During my time at this MLM, we were expected to recruit like crazy and push the FFIUL hard. Recruits are an ideal captive market. Many new agents, high on belief, low on facts, and dollar signs dancing in their eyes, tumble down like newborn puppies for this terrible policy. Over time many of them begin to learn the FFIUL’s true terrible nature. Alas, by that time their pride, and being trapped in the WFGers’ web, keep them from telling anyone they’ve been played, or even admitting it to themselves. My upline is a classic case in point. He’s a normally happy and gentle person who suddenly got spitting mad and lashed out at me when I showed him the math for Transamerica’s FFIUL. Totally out of his character, he very roughly ended our contact. He didn’t want to hear that the FFIUL is a terrible investment for nearly every human being--unless you plan to die young from causes the adjusters can't rule a suicide. The WFG agents that wise up to the FFIUL quietly dump it when they pass the commission chargeback period (1 to 2 years) so they don’t trigger chargebacks and upset their uplines. When you figure a typical ~$400/month premium for the FFIUL for up to 24 months, that comes to as much as $9,600--a big chunk of your true “cost of doing biz” as a new WFG agent.
Second, Transamerica and WFG depend on the vast majority of their customers to drop their FFIULs. Research points to that. Search on “US Individual Life Insurance Persistency - Society of Actuaries” There at the www dot soa dot org site you’ll find this PDF: research-2007-2009-us-ind-life-pers-report.pdf. Go to PDF page 51 to the page titled:
“U.S. Individual Life Insurance Persistency — Observation Years 2007–2009 - Universal Life”
In there, you find that for the lapse rates average 9% for the first policy year--meaning that for every 100 people that buy a UL policy, like the FFIUL, 9 people will drop it within 12 months. By Year 6, per-year lapse rates settle down to ~4.5% per year. Doing the math on SOA’s data, if you carry out xUL ownership for 30 years, *only 1 of 5 people* who bought the policy will still own it. Remember, that applies to the UL market as a whole, the original Universal Life (UL) policies and their Variable (VUL) and Indexed (IUL) variants as offered by all carriers, collectively called xUL. We can expect FFIUL lapse rates to be much *worse.* Why? WFG markets to low- and middle-income market, people who typically have little or no disposable income. The FFIUL is one of the first things they’ll drop to pay for more immediate needs, like rent, car repairs, their child’s college tuition, even for food. Worst of all, the FFIUL’s Cost of Insurance (COI) charges blast into the stratosphere as you age into late life, and the policy gives you no real No-Lapse guarantees. If you live a reasonably long time, your FFIUL is virtually GUARANTEED to fail, causing you and your heirs to lose the Death Benefit and the hundreds and thousands of dollars you fed into it. Bottom line folks: WFG and Transamerica have it nailed. They know they're safe. They know too few policyholders will remain in 20 or 30 years to file class-action suits against these two companies for selling these awful policies.
Finally, the US insurance industry is relatively lightly regulated at the federal level. The insurance companies want to keep it that way. Aegon and other insurance companies make such fat profits on their products, they can afford to pay lobbyists to keep the Feds at bay, to stay minimally involved, to leave regulation to the states. This is a divide-and-conquer approach that limits plaintiff pools and thus limits potential contingency payouts for class-action suits, and makes it harder for smaller and less funded state reg bodies to keep up with the rapid changes in the industry, This makes it easier for unethical providers to stay a step ahead of the regulators. As soon as the reg bodies catch up with one terrible product--e.g. the Variable Universal Life (VUL) policy, the industry's already created and flogging a new terrible product, e.g. the Indexed Universal Life (IUL) policy, like Transamerica's FFIUL. For more on regulation, please go here: www dot researchgate dot net/publication/228341618_An_Overview_of_the_Insurance_Industry_and_Its_Regulation
If you insist on checking out WFG-offered products, *do your homework.* Before you sign anything or give WFG a dime, make sure your agent gives you *complete* docs to take home and thoroughly read over. If you are looking at any policy, especially one like the FFIUL with as many moving parts as a Swiss watch, demand a FULL QUOTE *including all the contract terms and the Policy Data.* If it’s the FFIUL, demand your WFG agent show you the real math--using a *calculator* to *prove* your cash will cover your all your premiums in your later life. Absolutely do NOT rely on your agent’s illustration software program, which fails to show crucial policy data. Before you ask your agent for his calculator math, do your own math first. This way you can double-check your agent's figures. I show you how to do the math in my 29 June review on the FFIUL. If you’re not good with math or English-language contract language, hire a fee-ONLY (not merely fee-based) financial advisor to thoroughly examine your FULL quote. That’d be the best $50--$100 you ever spent, saving you untold thousands in wasted premium payments. A fee-only FA sells no financial and insurance products and so has minimal conflict of interest and can keep YOUR financial interests uppermost in his mind.
If you have to buy life insurance, buy Term Life from any one of many online sites, like termlife2go, that sell them. Term Life is vastly cheaper than “Perm” Life like xUL. You can invest your massive savings in an ultra-low-load S&P 500 ETF in a Roth IRA. You’ll come out *waay* ahead in the long term.
In sum, WFGers combine two bad worlds. The agents operate within a multilevel marketing (MLM) structure, a structure that’s shown us time and again its great potential to abuse customers and newer agents. WFG agents sell you inferior and even harmful products from the woefully under-regulated insurance industry.
Your best bet folks: Save yourselves a lot of time, money and heartache. Buy *nothing* from WFG. Avoid this deeply dishonest predatory outfit like the plague.
Reason of review: Bad quality.
I didn't like: Inferior and harmful products.