On this past season of The Bachelorette, one Hometown Date stole the show. It was the Hometown of Jef Holm, where he took Emily to his family’s “Holm”stead Ranch. But the date also got us wondering and Googling about Jef’s family and their apparent wealth. We also went on a mission (Mormon pun unintended) to investigate Jef’s company People Water to see if the company was legit or a bit shady. We have yet to make a real determination on People Water — so far, they seem to be an above-board and pretty darn awesome company — but Jef has always seemed a bit too good to be true so this new info on Jef’s Dad may shine a new light on the story. And I do want to say that even if Jef’s family wealth is a bit shady I don’t in anyway hold him responsible for the decisions of his father.
We now know a bit about his father, Monte Holm, 52. Of course he owns a kick-ass ranch in St. George Utah and is very active in the Mormon church. He serves as a high councilor and missionary in the LDS church and is currently in Columbia, South Carolina (as we learned when he couldn’t appear on the Hometown Date).
But here is where it gets interesting and where the squeaky clean shoe in the Holm family fortune finally drops…..
He is Executive vice chairman of the very infamous and very shady World Financial Group!
Looks like Monte started in the construction industry, but quickly moved to the shady and conveniently ambiguous “financial services industry,” working for the controversial company. The company has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny SEC charges of fraud and misrepresentation, litigation and has even been accused of being a pyramid scheme!Incidentally it’s important to note Monte’s involvement in the company has been major and long-lasting. It’s also important to note he worked for WFG predecessor WMA beginning way back in 1991. According to CNN in May of 2000 they said this about the company:
“WMA peddles costly and complex packages of insurance and mutual funds much the way Amway sells soap. But how WMA runs its pyramid-style sales structure (Humphrey prefers to call it “the magic of compound recruiting”) is drawing scrutiny from regulators and generating claims of fraud from investors. ”
“(Hubert Humphrey) left in 1991 to set up World Marketing Alliance. Joining him from what he now calls “the practice company” were top agent-recruiters like Thawley and Monte Holm, a former construction worker in Las Vegas.”
So Monte was no small part of the infamous WMA, he was one of the founders and top agents.
“Long before Aegon bought it, World Marketing and its brokerage arm, WMA Securities Inc., had run afoul of regulators. The two firms were accused of “widespread breaches” of NASD rules governing advertising, as well as accusations that some of its salesmen engaged in “dishonest and unethical practices,” according to records kept by Finra.”
About World Financial Group
“World Financial Group (WFG) is a financial services marketing organization based in Johns Creek, Georgia that markets investment, insurance, and various other financial products through a network of associates in the United States and Canada. Although WFG is publicly referred to as a Network Marketing company (also known as Multi-level Marketing (MLM)), the company has released several illustrations…However, page 61 of their Business Format System clearly shows a diagram of a pyramid.”
Complaints about World Financial Group
Apparently, judging by the numerous complaints, the company recruits members and requires them to pay a fee in order to be employed — a tell-tale sign of a pyramid scheme. In pyramid schemes, profits are made from recruitment fees rather than providing a product of real value.
Here is one of my favorite comments from Scam.com:
“First of all, WFG — a multi-level marketing company — calls people randomly supposedly from Careerbuilder or perhaps Craigslist. They say they are paying positions and offer an invitation to their “job fair”.
The “job” they offer is not a job, but as a position as an independent contractor. You have to sign a 1099 form. Using your credit card, pay for a background check which breaks two laws. You never get to see this background check. Which goes against FRCA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and state level law.
Guess what, the background check takes 1 day. They say that they only care about whether you have to commit only federal securities crime on your background check. Which means if you are a felon, you can work for WFG. Tell me would you like to share an office space with a possible rapist, thief, etc.
All that saying, wouldn’t you like a job where you can get benefits, vacation time, etc? Real jobs pay for your classes, conferences, etc.
All I can say is stay away from these people.”
Monte Holm’s World Financial Group bio
The description of Monte Holm’s wealth on the WFG website is shrouded in rhetoric and obscurity, which makes these accusations even more noteworthy. I’m showing this excerpt for illustration purposes because the language or lack there of is so important. If you notice, nowhere in this blurb do we hear what they ACTUALLY sell. But the other noteworthy situation is that despite the in depth history of Monte’s career in the financial services industry the bio never mentions WMA, a company he helped start. In fact the bio skips from the 80s to 2003 suggesting Holm was deeply immersed in financial services during that time but not mentioning where — this would never fly in a job interview. Here is a long excerpt describing Monte’s accumulation of wealth, according to the World Financial Group’s website:
“Little money, almost losing his home and the struggle to find work in the construction industry marked the early years for Holm and his wife, Lisa. But when he discovered the financial services industry while he was in college, he began helping families build financial futures, and that’s when his own family’s fortunes turned around.
Little more than 25 years later, Holm finds himself as one of the top leaders of World Financial Group, a financial services marketing organization with independent associates throughout the United States and Canada, with an eye on other international markets. He is more than willing to share his experience and strategies for building a successful business, as well as his passion for helping families become financially independent and realize their dreams. …
Holm remained committed to building his business, and it wasn’t long before he saw the rewards of his hard work. In his first year in the financial services industry, he made a little more than $7,000. But in his second year, he made $100,000 – and the business only grew from there. In the early 1980s, he went from making no money to being a millionaire and then a few years later was a multimillionaire.”
Beginning in the late 1970s, and continuing for more than two decades, Holm built a successful financial services business and managed a team of sales associates located throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2003, World Financial Group recognized Holm’s leadership and experience by naming him chairman of the Financial Division, one of the company’s two newly formed sales divisions. Under his guidance, the Financial Division realized record-breaking growth in all measurable areas. In early 2005, he was asked to assume the position of president of World Financial Group, Inc.”
Notice how nowhere in this rhetoric is there any hint about what financial services the company offers. It also shows that Holm was a very active part of “services” around the country, not just Utah. Holm held a very high-level position as chairman of the Financial Division and he is now on the Board of Directors.
Federal regulatory issues and lawsuits with World Financial Group
Wikipedia details some concerns about the companies practices:
“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.”
Some particularly noteworthy actions against WGS, via Wikipedia and Bloomberg news:
- 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 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.
Here is a video of Monte Holm speaking at a 2008 WFG Gala and sounding a tad bit like an evangelist/insurance salesman….dare I even say….snake oil salesman?
If you listen to his speech it is clear he is very actively involved in the global actions of the company and has been for some time. Thus it seems logical that Monte has somehow either participated in the shady shenanigans detailed above or at least knew about them.
It appears that the Holm fortune may have been made in a super shady way and that certainly is disappointing to us as we have been Jef’s biggest fans all season. We all know at this point about how vast and pervasive the fraud in the financial securities market has been. The fraud has real victims, both the investors who lose their life-savings and the taxpayers that have been signed on to pay for the trillions in securities fraud perpetrated by these sort of financial giants. So as much as I love super cool Jef Holm, this sort of questionable behavior that hurts millions of people a year, if true, is really not cool. This is in stark contrast to the squeaky clean image the wealthy Mormon family portrays.