Is Primerica Pyramid Scheme True or It is Nothing But a Safe MLM?

Before you read the below article, please note that the phrase “Primerica Pyramid Scheme” doesn’t mean we are saying that Primerica is a Pyramid Scheme.

It is not, because it has been around for over 40 years and it has a good BBB record (below).

That phrase is simply a search term that people use to find out whether Primerica is a Pyramid Scheme or not.

So it is on this page to answer that question, not to say that the company is really a Pyramid Scheme.

The other thing you have to note is that neither we are the Primerica affiliate, nor are we their enemy.

What you see below is merely a simple analysis.

If you type in Primerica Pyramid Scheme on the internet, more often than not you will find reference to pyramid scheme involving Primerica.

So the question that comes to mind then is Primerica a pyramid scheme or simply a multi level marketing initiative?

More importantly, the concern for most is Primerica a pyramid scheme scam?

Well for that, the first and foremost thing that we must understand is what the business model is for Primerica and how exactly do they make money or help its employees make money?

Ultimately, it will determine whether this is a pyramid scheme or simply a multi-level marketing initiative.

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The Primerica Business Model & Its History Doesn’t Look Like a Pyramid Scheme

Primerica, Maybe a Pyramid Scheme?

So first and foremost, let us understand what Primerica does.

It is a US based financial company.

They are also engaged in insurance services.

They use a multi-pronged sales strategy involving a direct sale, franchisee and distribution.

The company has close to 117,000 representatives who are working independently.

A Citigroup arm initially, the Primerica pyramid scheme as a probable pyramid scheme has its headquarters in Duluth in Georgia.

Their business is spread out across United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

They primarily use the multi-level marketing method to further their business.

Citi spun off this arm through an initial public offering in 2010.

Currently, this company has over 4 million life insurance customers and the total number of investment accounts equal to almost 2 million as per the last count.

The company was initially named as AL Williams by its founder Arthur L Williams in 1977.

The concept of the business was that target customers buy term and invest the difference.

The basis of this concept is mainly that most clients who fall in the middle-income group make it a point to buy term life insurance.

They are also invariably the income group that looks at saving systematically in various investment instruments like Retirement Plans and mutual funds.

So AL Williams began selling life-term insurance policies.

In 1980, AL Williams then launched the next phase of its growth trajectory.

They tied up with Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company.

They were essentially underwriters for a larger life insurance firm.

This is exactly why they went to create the First National Corporation, the First American Life Insurance and the First American National Securities.

Finally, the AL Wiliams company got listed in 1983.

The point then is how did the name Primerica come into being, and the Primerica Pyramid Scheme business model got going?

Well, that is because American Can and PennCorp, the larger life insurance company for which MILICO underwrote, merged in 1983.

In 1987, after American Can hived off its packaging division, it renamed this new company as Primerica Corporation.

Primerica then went on to buy Smith Barney and entered the financial business in a full-fledged manner.

Essentially this ended up to be the sister firm under Citigroup in 1998.

Primerica’s Initial Public Offering

Finally in November 2009, Citi announced that that it will spin off Primerica through an Initial Public Offering.

Citi would be claiming the profit earned from this offering and would get a share of the income from the existing Primerica business.

The IPO got priced at $15 a share, and the issue was listed in March 2010.

The issue performed exceptionally well on debut and surged close to 31% on day one.

Warburg Pincus too bought a stake in Primerica separately around this time.

While Pincus stake was around 22-33%, Citi’s stake remained close to 32-46%.

But eventually, Citi sold it off entirely to Primerica.

The Actual Primerica Model

But the fundamental question remains.

Is Primerica a pyramid scheme or simply a multi level marketing initiative?

Well, let us analyze what the Primerica prospectus says and try drawing a conclusion based on that.

If you closely read their prospectus, it says they hire close to 100,000 representatives.

These representatives physically go out and sell financial products to potential customers.

The financial products include the likes of

  1. Term insurance
  2. Mutual Funds
  3. Life insurance
  4. Annuities

One interesting point to note here is that pretty much everything that Primerica sells are products of the parent, Citigroup.

Now taking forward our discussion on whether Primerica a pyramid scheme or simply a multi level marketing initiative?

Now what the representative does is go around trying to sell the products amongst people they know.

It is easy to approach people you know and often selling a product to them is relatively easier.

In simple terms, this is selling to warm markets

It generally includes people who you might know personally.

The representative gets a commission on every sale they undertake.

Not only the representative but even those, who have recruited the representative, get a commission on it.

Essentially this then looks like a pyramid scheme, but…

The problem with selling a product to warm markets is that at some point of time, it reaches a saturation point.

Beyond that point, it becomes difficult to sell the product to the same set of people, and that becomes a concern area for most of the pyramid schemes.

To address this problem, then representatives are given the incentive to recruit a larger number of people who possibly can be representatives.

It is needless to mention that this also means that sales and revenues also get a fillip as a result.

It is obvious that Primerica Pyramid Scheme doesn’t make sense and Primerica is not a pyramid scheme scam.

But the fact remains that you cannot earn as much as $100,000 that has been promised in the company’s prospectus.

On an average, they make around $5000.

Those who are slightly higher up on the scale earn a little more than that, and some of them make significantly large amounts.

However, you cannot deny that the average amount that most representatives make is not sufficient as a source of livelihood.

But that doesn’t mean that Primerica is a pyramid scheme.

The amount of the money the members earn, is related to the amount of effort, time and energy they spend on the business.

There is no doubt that not all of the members can make the same.

If you take a closer look and calculate, it is then essentially an 11-tier multi-level system not a pyramid scheme.

As you know, MLMs are not necessarily illegal and illegitimate.

Like other MLMs, the Primerica marketing system that looks like a Pyramid Scheme allows you to get commissions from every recruit and also the recruits that these people recruit.

Maybe that is why they are allegated of scam because safe MLM systems can be easily mixed up with pyramid schemes.

Pyramid schemes cannot be a sustainable source of income for anyone who is looking to take it up as a sustainable job opportunity.

Are the Claims of Making Money Incorrect?

When you finally take up the job, do you really make money from it?

More importantly how exactly do you make money using this model?

Well, that is a key factor that you must understand to make any kind of money whatsoever from this.

Primerica Pyramid Scheme is a wrong search term people use.

Primerica in its multi-level marketing format sells various types of life insurance, legal services on prepaid basis, automobile insurance, mutual funds and a whole plethora of financial products.

But just to sign-up, you would have to spend a significant sum of money.

That in itself can be a red flag for the pyramid scheme.

But there are some other factors that a company has to have to be a pyramid scheme.

You have to understand that whatever might be the business model, if you have to pay money to join a place of work, it surely is a bit odd.

You then have to sell the services and products to everyone you know, friends, families and relatives.

That’s not enough.

As a member of the Primerica, if you worry that it is a pyramid scheme, you have to know that it becomes very important that you continue to recruit more and more people to keep the sales and revenues pointing northwards.

As is the norm in any multi-level marketing scheme or a pyramid scheme, in Primerica also, you have to continuously work to maintain the people to people contact, and that is often the crucial link in maintaining the business model.

So while the claims of making money through the Primerica pyramid scheme, as a possible pyramid scheme, might not be wrong, it depends on a lot of factors.

You need to master the art of communication very effectively.

Additionally, you need to have the convincing power and make people accept the offer that you might be presenting to them.

Above all, you must remember that starting from your product sale to recruiting new representatives; the entire task is dependent on how well you can communicate.

This is how all the marketing systems work. It doesn’t mean they are pyramid.

Primerica Is a Better Business Bureau Registered Company

Primerica Pyramid scheme on BBBAccording to BBB, Primerica has been working for 40 years.

I don’t know when they have registered their company with BBB.

However, when people see that a company is BBB registered, they feel more peace of mind to work with it.

The reason is that they do know that there is an organization (BBB) that follows their complaints strictly.

Companies are also very careful about their BBB credit.

They do their best to keep the records nice and clean and have positive reviews.

According to BBB, Primerica has an A+ rating or 4.34 out of 5 stars which is really good.

The problem is the number of reviews is very low.

Complaints in the past 3 Years That Are All Closed and Properly Resolved

The good thing is that there are 152 complaints in the past 3 years that are all closed and properly resolved.

Maintaining people to people contact is crucial for the overall success of the Primerica Pyramid scheme.

If interacting with people is not your forte, then you must stay away from these kinds of pyramid schemes that need active people connection.

Primerica Pyramid Scheme Complaints on BBBSo overall, it is very important to remember that a pyramid scheme is never easy money.

You have to put in a lot of hard work, time, energy and intense energy for making this kind of pyramid scheme becoming profitable for you.

Often the money that you make is totally dependent on the exact amount of hard work or commitment that you are able to put in the whole endeavor.

While it would be incorrect to say that Primerica makes wrong claims of making money, the fact is that making money is not all that simple either.

You have to understand that this is like any other business.

You have to be sufficiently enterprising to get the best value and maximize your overall earnings.

All multi-level marketing initiatives, where the basic product offering is vague, face difficulty in finding customers the second time on.

While you can convince friends and families once or twice to oblige, it is not correct to believe that they will always accept your offer.

Beyond a point, everyone will look at what suits their individual needs and Primerica poses some huge question marks in this context.

The biggest issue is despite being a financial firm; there are no statements to substantiate the kind of gains that the Primerica pyramid system can offer.

Moreover, the revenue inflow from Primerica is more in terms of new recruits and commissions earned on the basis of them recruiting more people.

So the point is that overall it is a pretty opaque system of operation.

There is no possibility of identifying the exact source of revenue or the exact amount of money that is being sourced from this particular source of operation.

Again, Primerica raises the same set of questions in all of this, the relative ratio of money earned via sales vs money earned as a commission for new recruits.

What is particularly worrying is that there is no scope of really assessing where and how the entire revenue flow is created.

Almost inevitably, the same set of questions keeps reverberating.

Unlike the pyramid schemes, it seems Primerica does have a well-allocated set of financial statements to justify the claims that its representatives make about the product they offer.

Moreover how many really rich Primerica representatives do you know?

For a firm that has been in business that long and one that claims of assuring $100,000 annually, the instances are very rare.

But still, this is not a the sign of being a pyramid scheme or scam.

Because the amount of the money that each member makes, completely depends on the amount of the effort they put in the business.

They harder you work, the luckier you get.

Primerica Not a Scam

In fact, Primerica is a pyramid scheme with very limited opportunity to make money for most.

But the question is whether they will scam you remains highly debatable.

So one simple answer to the questions about whether Primerica a pyramid scheme scam, I would say has to be a clear no.

What you can say is that marketing the product can be immensely difficult and the returns quite paltry, but they are not fake.

They do have an actual product that they offer.

Though transparency might be a little bit of a concern, it is not all that difficult.

After all, being a listed entity there is surely some amount of authenticity that needs to be maintained.

While it is true that you might face difficulty in making it profitable for you if you do not know a lot of people or not good with marketing or approaching people effectively, it is not true that they are fake.

Those who have sufficient marketing background can really make it a successful operational model and make significant gains.

If you are just basing your opinion on negative feedback, then you must also remember that when the unhappy representatives have to quit, they are also biased in their feedback.

Conclusion: Primerica Pyramid scheme is a wrong term and phrase to describe this company and its activities

However, it is a a valid but difficult model to replicate.

Not everyone who is willing to try their hand in this multi-level marketing firm might taste success.

This is the same with any other business.

Not everybody will success in all the other businesses too.

The most important fact is that it is a listed entity.

Therefore, there is a relatively far greater level of transparency here in comparison with what you would see in many other pyramid schemes.

Therefore, if you want to try your hand in a so-called Primerica pyramid scheme which in fact is not a pyramid, and is a legal MLM system, it is far more advisable to probe the pros and cons and then make an informed choice.

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Published by

Lucian Serna

I am an experienced entrepreneurs and marketer. I always liked to writing about what I know. LuckScout has given me the chance to write and share my knowledge and experience with people.

16 thoughts on “Is Primerica Pyramid Scheme True or It is Nothing But a Safe MLM?”

  1. Pyramid schemes are indeed illegal in America. If Primerica we’re a pyramid scheme, it’s doors would not have been open now for 40 years. Plus, companies would not have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the company. A lack of business knowledge seems to be the case here.

    1. Not all Pyramid schemes are illegal. You have a good BBB record as it is mentioned above. We never said that you are illegal. If there is anything in the above article that looks offending or incorrect, please kindly do let us know to modify. We are not after destroying any company’s credit here and we respect all the businesses and companies. Thank you 🙂

      1. “Pyramid schemes” as you use consistently in your article, are illegal by definition. Although you never said Primerica was illegal, you refer to Primerica as the “Primerica Pyramid Scheme” thus implying that it is illegal. You are misleading your readers by saying this over and over.
        You mentioned that the cost to enter is rather large. Pyramid schemes cost hundreds, if not a thousand dollars to buy rights to sell a product, which you also need to buy and have in stock (generally speaking). With Primerica, there is a one time $99 fee, and a monthly recurring fee of $25 which pays for all the tools and education you need to obtain your licenses and track your highly regulated business (regulated by your state and the federal government which should also be a tip that this is not a pyramid). The $25/month is optional. You can simply go in and change you preference and limit your access to the site and get charged nothing.

        Lastly, you are correct in saying that the average income is about $5000/year. But let’s look at how that happens. First, most people come to Primerica on a part-time basis looking to make some extra money in addition to what they make at their full time job. So if someone was making $50,000 a year at their job, and they made an addition $5000 at Primerica, then they increased their income by 10%, which is more of a raise than they would have received at work. Even a $100,000 earner would have a good pay raise (5%). It may be nothing to brag about, but it beats 25% interest on the credit card when it comes to paying for that family vacation ortmas presents. Secondly, the reason the number is as low as it is, is because of the law of large numbers. As you mentioned, Primerica has over 100,000 licensed reps, but probably less than 50% are active. That is a decision that the individual makes, but obviously if you start, get licensed and then decide to do something else and not work on insurance and investments, then you will make nothing; however, you license still resides under Primerica (and as long as it remains current, you can begin to use it again). You are independent so unless you break the law or some other really stupid thing, you will remain part of the over 100,000 reps. Human nature being what it is, many people start and think business will come to them with little or no work. Primerica (like Edward Jones, NY Life, Prudential, etc) takes work and time. So bottom line the average income is watered down by a the agents who do not actively work. I am willing g to bet that the income is much higher for those who work at least three or four days a week.

        One more thing: I have personally interviewed with Edward Jones, NY Life, Western and Southern, and Mass Mutual. ALL OF THEM will tell you that you can make well over $100,000 if you work there. Primerica is not the only one. And, like I said, it is possible with any of them, but it takes a consistent and hard working effort, which I have eluded to, is something that 98% of the public isn’t willing to do.

        1. Hi Rick,

          By saying “Primerica Pyramid Scheme” we didn’t mean that Primerica is a pyramid scheme. As you see, we have explained it in the article clearly. “Primerica Pyramid Scheme” is just a search term that people use to know whether Primerica is a Pyramid Scheme or not. That is all.

      2. “Pyramid scheme” is indeed a negative connotation and should not be used to describe a legal, regulated company such as Primerica. You should have noted somewhere in your article that Primerica is not a pyramid scheme, because they (pyramid schemes) are illegal in ALL 50 states in America. This could be flagged and you could be accused of defamation based on this. I would edit it and make it clear instead of leaving it to the reader’s interpretation.

  2. True, you state that Primerica is not a pyramid scheme, but then why do you continue to use that term all through your article to describe this company? There must be some intent on your part for doing so. Please show less bias in the future when writing about Primerica. As an agent, I totally believe in the concept of this highly regulated company whether I choose to make $5000 or $500,000 dollars a year. The results are totally up to me. The key is that it is possible. How many other companies can make that factual claim?

  3. In addition to not being a pyramid scheme, Primerica is not an MLM. It is a modified brokerage similar to how real estate office work. Also, Google which company has the most 6 figure earners and Primerica comes up as #1.

  4. Primerica tried to scam me into becoming a rep. They prey on vulnerable people and they’re lucky to bring in $400 per month. The only way to make money is to recruit, you get close to nothing from your own sales. It takes HOURS of work to make a little bit of money.

  5. Maybe the Company itself exists, registered with the BBB, but the actions by their recruiters are clearly a scam or an attempt to. It is hard to track who is doing what in the ladder, but understand they are “recruiting” and using Facebook to contact “potential” representatives. They shoot for that quick interview and all this is fine if you have the know and understand that you are paying a “FEE” to potential get a license, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE. They are presenting you with an INDEPENDENT BUSINESS APPLICATION AT YOUR 1ST INTERVIEW!! The fees are explained as PART OF THE JOB APPLICATION, the monthly $25 fee is not a FEE for the promise of a job it is a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEE. They presented this to a family member who was recruited, they knew very well that the person had no experience in the Financial field and put an EFT/Automatic deduction form in front of him so his PAYROLL COULD BE SET UP. First of all, you are not a hired employee/you WILL BE INDEPENDENT. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO GET THE LICENSE, this is in the CONTRACT THAT IS HANDED TO YOU AS the idea of an application process. IT IS NOT, it is a contract to allow them to charge you $99 and $25 a month. They are misleading and not transparent in their practices. They claim that you can make BIG money almost as a guarantee. There are no statements or offers of what your salary will be. If you have to pay money to join/RED FLAG. This Company and the recruiter knew very well that the person they were interviewing was a youngster with no experience, someone that clearly stated they were looking for a Salaried job, yet they were taken for $99 and a $25 subscription. More than anything our experience is that recruiters are getting paid to do just that “recruit” WRONG MARKETING APPROACH, BE UP FRONT.

  6. LucksScout (and Lucien Serna), the problem with this article is that it is not clear at all. It is so poorly written that it sounds like a 7th grader’s research report. The sentences are awkward at best and do confuse the reader with the way they are phrased. Repeating yourself doesn’t make it any clearer, especially when you keep repeating the negative and expecting readers to sift through all the superfluous ramblings and still understand the points you are making. You repeat the question about whether it is a pyramid scheme or MLM several times, and even twice in the same paragraph. Even though you say it many times in your article that Primerica is not an pyramid scheme, you write sentences like this one that muddies your point, “The point then is how did the name Primerica come into being, and the Primerica Pyramid Scheme business model got going?” Not only does it have grammatical errors, it confuses the point by basically giving a proper name to the business model, “Primerica Pyramid Scheme”. Even if you say a hundred times it is not a pyramid scheme, sentences like this where you actually name the business model makes one wonder why you contradict yourself. And since this happens throughout the essay, it feels like you are purposely trying to be misleading or confusing, but by the end I couldn’t figure out why you would do that. So, that’s how I concluded it is just poor writing and not malicious intent to befuddle the reader. Here is another example of a confusing sentence that again contradicts what you really are saying, “So while the claims of making money through the Primerica pyramid scheme, as a possible pyramid scheme, might not be wrong, it depends on a lot of factors.” This is one that really reminds me of a 7th graders research report. It is as if the student is writing about something he/she clearly doesn’t quite understand but got it from a source and is trying to paraphrase it to prove a point, though not successfully. Here again, another poorly worded sentence that further confuses things, “A Citigroup arm initially, the Primerica pyramid scheme as a probable pyramid scheme has its headquarters in Duluth in Georgia.” You clearly say it is a “probable pyramid scheme” although from your responses, it was not your intent. But can you see how this can be misconstrued? Then, there is this sentence which says it is difficult to make money in a pyramid scheme, then you go on to talk about how it’s hard to make money with Primerica, thus implying it is a pyramid scheme. “So overall, it is very important to remember that a pyramid scheme is never easy money.” Following that sentence are statements about the difficulty in making money working for them. I will offer one more example, “As is the norm in any multi-level marketing scheme or a pyramid scheme, in Primerica also, you have to continuously work…” Again, this is confusing and sounds like Primerica is lumped in with pyramid schemes. By saying “in Primerica also”, it sounds like you are saying it is also a pyramid scheme. It is just a poorly phrased sentence and could be clearer. So, you see, even if you repeat that it is not a pyramid scheme, many of your statements sound otherwise. I think this is why you got the responses you did from people defending the company as not being a pyramid scheme. When I saw the comments and you kept responding that the article clearly states that it is NOT a pyramid scheme, I thought giving you examples of why the article is confusing might help you understand that the writing is unclear and in the future try to avoid confusing sentence phrasing.

    1. 1. Being a pyramid scheme is not bad and illegal by itself. It is the way that the pyramid scheme works that makes it illegal.
      2. The poll we have at the bottom of the article, let everybody reflect his/her opinion. Maybe there are some people at the top levels who are making money. But there are so many others who have spent time and money but haven’t earned anything. Those who are happy with the company, like to see positive reviews on it. They get mad when they see something they don’t like. This is normal 🙂

  7. MC, you clearly don’t understand the Primerica business model. The $99.00 is for your background & clearance check. And if you comply with appropriate time-lines; the cost for your license(s) are reimbursed. Primerica is a business OPPORTUNITY and not a JOB ( Just Over Broke). Please spend more time researching credible sources and not listening to trash noise. Primerica stock is listed on the Wall Street Exchange!!! And is performing quite well I might add!!!!Opened on April 1, 2010 at $15.00/share and closed on May 14th at $123.32/ share. I’ll take two or more of those please!!!!!

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