An Employment Scam in the Financial Services Industry
A Warning for New Grads and Others New to the Financial Services Industry

Considering a financial sales job? To future financial consultants, finance management trainees/associates,
financial services sales professionals, financial executives, investment advisors, financial planners, and the like:
There is a scam you should be aware of.



How The Scam Works

Fighting Back

Contact Author

A Short List of Financial
Services Companies

Thinking about a career in the financial services industry? Listed below are just a few of many companies you may work for, pulled from popular job search sites like Monster and CareerBuilder. Some have advertised the same positions for years on end. Which are seeking to fill positions due to legitimate expansion, and which are just churning through naive recruits to mine commission trails on their referrals? Everyone needs experience somewhere; reading this site will help you at least go in with your eyes open.
(Use CTRL+F to find a company on this page, as some have advertised under multiple names over time.)

  • 21st Century Financial
  • Aflac
  • AllState Insurance Company
  • American General Financial Services
  • American Income Life / Altig International
  • Ameriprise Financial / American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA)
  • Amscot Financial
  • Assurecor
  • AXA Advisors / AXA Financial
  • Charles Schwab & Co.
  • Citi/Primerica Financial Services / AL Williams
  • Citi/Smith Barney
  • CUNA Mutual
  • David Lerner Associates
  • Diamond State Financial Group (DSFG)
  • Edward Jones
  • Farmers Insurance Group
  • First Command Financial Services
  • Independent Capital Management
  • John Hancock Financial Network
  • JP Morgan Chase / WaMu
  • Liberty National Life Insurance Company
  • Lincoln Investment Planning
  • MassMutual Financial / Pastore Financial Group
  • Merrill Lynch
  • MetLife
  • National City
  • Nationwide
  • New England Financial
  • New York Life
  • Northwestern Mutual Life
  • North Star Financial / North Star Resource Group
  • PNC Financial Services
  • Prudential Insurance Company of America
  • RJ & Makay
  • Strategic Financial Partners
  • Tax & Financial Group (TFG)
  • Trilogy Financial Services
  • Wachovia Securities
  • Waddell & Reed
  • World Marketing Alliance / World Financial Group (WMA/WFG) / National Lending Corp. (NLC) / Aegon Financial Group World

By the way, I've noticed scammers increasingly using employment agencies or job sites that permit them to remain anonymous in their job postings. Use even more extreme caution with those!



A stable job with a future, or a scam that will leave you penniless? Sometimes it's not so easy to tell!

Financial Consultant

Due to expansion, nationally respected firm is seeking career minded individuals who desire training in all aspects of operating a branch office. Excellent career opportunity to earn $50,000 first-year management income. Prior experience desirable but not necessary. Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX for immediate interview.

The above ad is NOT real. The sauthor made it up as an example.
Any resemblance to anyone's actual ad is coincidental

Sounds reasonable enough. You apply. Your interviewer advises you that the average rep in the industry makes over $100,000 a year, not just the low-end $50,000 advertised, and the firm will help you get there quickly. The risk sounds reasonable. You agree to pay over $700 for your licensing/background check, and in spite of your lack of experience, you are hired. You note upon the first day of the training class that the ten other new hires are primarily young and inexperienced. You stick it out and pass your exams; now you are told to create a list of friends and family that will serve as your leads, and you memorize a sales script. After six months of being a "star performer" slaving 60+ hours a week, you have grossed less than $5000, and a good portion of that has been depleted by "business costs" revealed to you only as they cropped up. Your leads are drying up. The help you were promised is now minimal as your manager focuses on attracting and training new reps. The vast majority of your original class has left (as well as even many reps hired after you), and you finally decide that the job involves far more risk than was represented to you. Although you signed a Non-Compete Agreement indicating that you must leave your clients behind when you leave, you still expect the commission trails from those clients' investments to continue to help support you while you seek new employment. You quit. The commission trails never come.

You're not alone.

I've just described one victim's experience*. In fact, this is one of the less extreme examples.

Some reps leave heavily in debt because they've been convinced to pay as much as $75,000 for the licensing/background check as well as the firm's "exemplary" training classes. They may even have been advised to "fake it till you make it" and maxed out credit buying expensive business attire and a car beyond their means just to project a successful (but false) image.

I am not describing the many legitimate financial services positions in which it takes months to establish a clientele but ultimately pays off. In a legitimate job, the risks are disclosed up front. With a scam job, the scammer deliberately misleads reps about the job's true earning potential and then profits on them till they are forced to quit for lack of income, and then continues to profit even after on their commission trails. In fact, it sets up the recruits to fail, much like many of today's illegal MLMs and pyramid schemes, continuously mining an inexperienced work force who is willing to pay to get "trained" to make a "fabulous" income and leave their hard-won clients behind as they fail. When the above-mentioned rep and over a dozen others sued the firm for fraud, the firm defended itself by pointing to its official corporate literature, which described an average rep being expected to earn only about $12,000 his first year!* Of course, each rep claimed to have never been informed of this.

And the scammers don't just mine new college graduates and similarly inexperienced job hunters. Victims have included seasoned former attorneys, IT professionals, and even financial industry professionals seeking an exciting new opportunity. Perpetrators of these types of scams have become increasingly clever to avoid detection, and ultimately, prosecution. The law has yet to catch up.

My goal is to help NEW COLLEGE GRADS and THOSE NEW TO THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY enter the field forewarned, aid those who have been defrauded, and do my part to help end the scam.

Note that if you came here looking for evidence that a particular firm is involved in the scam, you will not find absolute proof here. I am not interested in getting sued; I am interested in imparting helpful information to victims and potential victims. The next pages describe an overview of the scam and then examine the components in detail as far as I can make them out.


* Cases were found in public court records.

A NOTE TO THOSE RESEARCHING MLMs (multi-level marketing organizations, direct sellers, network marketers, viral marketers, consumer direct marketers, dual marketers, etc.) OR SALES JOBS OF ANY SORT (particularly in the financial, real estate, personnel staffing, and auto rental industries): If you stumbled onto this site during your research, you might as well read it in its entirety. Many of the points apply to you as well. At a bare minimum see the MLM section on the Links page and the Avoiding The Scam page.