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Primerica Financial Services
Founded February 10, 1977
Headquarters 3120 Breckinridge Blvd.
Duluth, GA
(770) 381-1000
Key people John Addison, Co-CEO
Rick Williams, Co-CEO and COO
Glenn Williams, President
Industry Financial Services
Products Life Insurance
Mutual Funds
Segregated Funds
Variable Annuities
Long-Term Care Insurance
Legal Services
Car insurance
Homeowners Insurance
Credit Monitoring
Debt Management Plans
Revenue US $2.2 billion (2009)[1]
Net income US $494.6 million (2009)[1]
Total equity US $9 billion (2008)[2]
Employees 2,200 (2007)

Primerica Financial Services (PFS) is a referral marketer[3] of financial services through a large sales force of full-time & part-time representatives. Headquartered in Duluth, Georgia,[4] the company is currently segregated from Citi as part of Citi Holdings, having announced its intention to completely divest away from its parent through an IPO to occur in 2010.[1] It is the largest financial services marketing organization in North America with more than 100,000 licensed independent representatives, 26,000 of whom are FINRA securities licensed through Primerica's securities broker-dealer affiliate PFS Investments, Inc. in the US, and through PFSL Investments Canada Ltd. in Canada.[5] The company provides financial products and services through its affiliates that include term life insurance, mutual funds, variable annuities, segregated funds, loans, long-term care insurance, pre-paid legal services, credit monitoring and debt management plans, to over 6.3 million clients through a network marketing formatted sales model.[5] In August 2007 Primerica and Answer Financial introduced Primerica Secure, an auto and homeowner's insurance referral program to quotes from dozens of insurance carriers. In September 2009, Primerica and Equifax teamed up to offer DebtWatchers,[6] a credit monitoring and debt management tool for clients as another way to fight debt.

Primerica conducts business principally in the United States. Primerica first expanded internationally in 1986 when it began operating in Canada, where agents sell life insurance and segregated funds from the Primerica Life Insurance Company of Canada, and securities from PFSL Investments Canada Ltd. Canadian agents also refer clients to CitiCorp Home Mortgage for their $.M.A.R.T. Loan product.[7] In 2000 the company expanded overseas to Spain, commencing operations as CitiSoluciones[8], which later became known as PriEuropa.



Founded in 1977 by Arthur L. Williams, Jr. as A.L. Williams & Associates (A.L. Williams), the company established a market niche by mass-marketing the concept of "Buy Term and Invest the Difference." With "BTID", the company advised its mostly middle-income client base to purchase sufficient protection with term life insurance and systematically save and invest in separate investment vehicles, such as mutual fund IRAs. A.L. Williams was initially established as a privately held general agency, at first selling term life insurance policies underwritten by Financial Assurance, Inc. (FAI).

The company expanded, outgrowing the capacity of FAI to process its business. In 1980, A.L. Williams entered into a contract with Boston-based Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company (MILICO), a larger underwriter of life insurance, whose parent was PennCorp Financial Services based in Santa Monica. To support A.L. Williams headquartered in Atlanta, MILICO established a regional office in that city. In 1981, the company established First American National Corporation (later renamed The A.L. Williams Corporation) as a holding company for First American Life Insurance (later renamed A.L. Williams Life Insurance Company) and First American National Securities (later renamed PFS Investments, Inc). In 1982, The A.L. Williams Corporation (ALWC) underwrote a $27 million public stock offering, listed in the Over the Counter (OTC) market under the symbol ALWC. In 1983, the company became listed on the NASDAQ exchange under the same symbol.


Origin of "Primerica" name

PennCorp's massive growth due to MILICO's underwriting explosion caught the attention of Bill Woodside, Chairman & CEO of American Can Company, a former Dow Jones 30 blue chip can and container producing company based in Greenwich, Connecticut founded in 1901.[9] Due to the growing rise of plastic as a replacement for aluminum cans, the company looked to acquire financial services providers and move away from the dying manufacturing industry, having acquired life insurance holding company Associated Madison from Gerry Tsai Jr in 1982. With this acquisition Woodside created a new financial services division for American Can and hired Tsai, who succeeded him as Chairman & CEO, as the new head. In September, 1982 American Can and PennCorp signed a merger agreement. In 1983 the merger was finalized, making American Can the parent company of PennCorp and MILICO, signing a new contract with ALWC through the year 2000. In 1986 Triangle Industries bought American Can's packaging division, along with rights to the name of the company. Therefore on March 6, 1987 American Can announced that it would change its 86-year-old name to Primerica Corporation,[10] hence giving birth to the new and currently recognized name "Primerica."

Acquisition by Sandy Weill

The newly-named Primerica Corporation targeted Smith Barney as the first significant purchase that moved the company completely into financial services with the May 1987 announcement of its intent to buy the Wall Street brokerage for $750 million,[11] which would later end up as Primerica's sister company under Citigroup in 1998.[12]

In 1985 ALWC began the procedure to open business in Canada. After encountering legal and cultural roadblocks to expanding outside the United States, ALWC began selling insurance products of Pennsylvania Life Insurance Company, a Primerica subsidiary, in Canada in 1986.

On November 30, 1988 ALWC acquired MILICO from Primerica Corporation through a stock merger acquisition for 44.58 million shares of ALWC stock, making Primerica Corporation the majority shareholder of ALWC. In December 1988, Sandy Weill's Commercial Credit acquired Primerica Corporation for $1.54 billion, retaining the Primerica name. At this time, the major businesses under Primerica Corporation were A.L. Williams, Smith Barney and Commercial Credit. On February 6, 1989 Primerica Corporation began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Travelers and Citigroup era

In November, 1989, Primerica purchased the remaining 30% of ALWC that it did not previously own and the privately held General Agent, A.L. Williams, Inc. In 1991, Primerica Corporation changed the name of A.L. Williams to Primerica Financial Services. The following year MILICO, Primerica's life insurance underwriter, changed its name to Primerica Life Insurance Company, and its broker-dealer FANS changed to PFS Investments, Inc.[12]

In December 1993, Primerica acquired the remaining 73% of Travelers Insurance Corporation and adopted the name Travelers Inc., which was changed to Travelers Group the following year.[12] Travelers Group included Primerica Financial Services, Smith Barney, Travelers Life and Annuity, Travelers Property/Casualty, Commercial Credit and other financial businesses.

In December 1997, Primerica announced it was going to begin offering pre-paid legal through Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., at the time both subsidiaries of Travelers Group, Inc.[13]

In 1998, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) censured and fined PFS Investments Inc., the securities arm for Primerica, for failure to properly supervise a group of registered representatives in Dearborn, Michigan. The SEC found that PFS Investments Inc. had failed to have in place effective policies and procedures to follow up adequately on three complaints received about the Dearborn registered representatives' "selling away" activities. Prior to the SEC's ruling, PFS Investments Inc. voluntarily hired an independent consultant to review its supervisory and compliance policies and procedures to prevent and detect violations of the federal securities laws. By the date of the ruling, PFS Investments had complied with the final recommendations made by the independent consultant.[14]

In 1998, Travelers Group and banking giant Citicorp merged creating Citigroup (NYSEC). Primerica and its affiliates continued to operate as subsidiaries of Citigroup, although the Travelers insurance business was spun off in 2002. Along with Primerica, other major brand names under Citigroup included Citibank, CitiFinancial, Citicorp Trust Bank, Smith Barney, and Banamex.

Long-time veteran executives John Addison and Rick Williams, whom Art Williams quoted in his book Coach as "two true sons of A.L. Williams",[15] were hired as co-CEOs in 2000, with Glen Williams promoted to President in 2005.


Official Atlanta Convention & Travel Bureau promotional banner for the Primerica 2007 Convention
60,000 representatives attend the 2007 convention at the Georgia Dome
View of the 2007 Convention Stage

Primerica held its 30th Anniversary Convention August 1, 2007 through August 4, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia in the Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center.[16] An estimated 60,000 representatives attended. Primerica Secure was introduced at the event, as well as the newest term life insurance product, Custom Advantage. Notable speakers included former Chairman & CEO of Citigroup Charles Prince, founder of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. Harland Stonecipher, as well as Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.[17]

Due to the general economic downturn and Citigroup's acceptance of government bailout funds totaling nearly $45 billion in 2008, in February 2009 its management decided to cancel Primerica's 2009 convention and a trip to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for top agents, days before the trip was to take place.[18] However, in spite of the cancellation, Primerica's executives in August 2009 announced the company was holding two new trips for top producers within the company to Maui and Las Vegas planned to occur back to back in February 2010. It was publicized that the trips would be fully funded from Primerica profits, justifying the merits of the sales force.[19]

Separation from Citi

Citigroup attempted to sell Primerica in 2008,[20] having received several bids from life insurance companies and private equity firms interested in buying.[21][22] At the time the market value of the company was estimated to be $7 billion, roughly 15 times its annual earnings[23] and Citi was trying to match various bidders in groups that could bid for the unit together. Initially, a sale to JC Flowers & Co. LLC and Protective Life Corp was underway until the deal was canceled last minute for publicly undisclosed reasons.[24]

In May 2009 the Primerica executive team lead by co-CEOs John Addison and Rick Williams approached private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. yet again, as well as Blackstone Group LP and TPG Inc [20] in a new attempt to have the company bought, a plan which Citigroup did not endorse.[25] As of 2009 the company was estimated to be valued at $9 billion.[2]

Initial Public Offering

On November 5, 2009, Citi announced that it intended to spin off Primerica through an initial public offering.[1] The Primerica executive and legal team filed an S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),[26] having officially publicly announced the intention of becoming a public company. Citi would claim all profit from the primary offering, as well as continue to receive income from a significant portion of existing Primerica business,[27] with Citi Holdings CEO Michael Corbit claiming the move to be "the best separation alternative for this franchise."[28]


In 2005[29] Primerica representatives were able to begin submitting life insurance applications electronically through the TurboApps[30] application developed by the Primerica Field Technology team via Palm handheld devices.[31] Clients have the opportunity to get insurance quotes on the spot and complete the life application paperlessly. This effectively sped up the underwriting process for Primerica Life and increased the amount of policies processed and insurance face amount put into force on a monthly basis.[32] In 2007 the electronic application process was extended to include the $.M.A.R.T. loan program, now offered through Citicorp Trust Bank, reducing the time for a pre-approval and debt solution to as little as six hours. The inclusion of the Independent Business Application was also included in 2007 to reduce the time needed to get a new recruit into the system and through state mandated pre-licensing classes.

Since the summer of 2009, Primerica's IT department started rolling out its line of TurboApps software on the [windows mobile] platform. With this change, future enhancements have been planned to include wireless submission of applications, software updates, and more in order to make it easier for the sales force to do business.[33]


Primerica's life insurance underwriter Primerica Life Insurance Company and its New York subsidiary National Benefit Life are rated A+ as "Superior" by A. M. Best as of May 2008.[34] Standard & Poor's has the company rated AA as "Very Strong."[35] The Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, a non-profit organization based out of Bethesda, Maryland with the intent to create ethical standards for the insurance industry, has renewed qualification for Primerica Life and National Benefit Life for high standards and quality business, "continuing dedication to ethical business practices."[36]

In 2010, Primerica received its seventh Dalbar Service Award from Dalbar, Inc., a client service rating organization focused on raising the standards of customer satisfaction and quality in the financial services industry, for Primerica's excellent customer service in mutual funds.[37]

In 2009 the Better Business Bureau changed their rating system from “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” to an “A+ to F” letter rating system. Primerica Financial Services received an A+ rating from the BBB, and is also a BBB Accredited Business since January 1, 1980.[38]

In an article on FT.Com, Francesco Guerrera, Julie MacIntosh and Justin Baer described Primerica as part of the underperforming businesses on Citigroup's balance sheet.[39]


Primerica's business model has often been criticized as "recruitment" of clients[citation needed] and is strongly emphasized, however agents can choose to build a client base without recruiting. In 2008, Primerica's licensed agents earned an average of $6,220 in compensation. The income level that an agent achieves varies based upon the licenses obtained, "contract level" at which the agent receives commissions and the amount of personal production and commission-based business written in the field as well as the size and activity of an agent's organization.[40]


Primerica Financial Services has a unique working environment.[citation needed] The company offers incentives like overrides, bonuses, luxurious trips, and the like to motivate its representatives. Primerica Financial Services also encourages its representatives to build their own baseshops and work towards gaining their own financial independence. The company also stresses the importance of family involvement and encourages family participation.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d Stynes, Tess (2000-03-17). "Primerica Unveils Estimated Terms Of Boosted IPO". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Primerica unit may hit block". TheDeal. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  3. ^ "Primerica Opportunity". Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  4. ^ "Contact Us." Primerica. Retrieved on January 5, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Primerica's History,
  6. ^ "What is DebtWatchers". Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  7. ^ CitiCorp Trust Bank, fsb
  8. ^ Hann, Leslie Werstein (2000-09-01). "Primerica's Overseas Expansion Targets Spain's Middle Class". Best's Review. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  9. ^ American Can Company - International Business Group
  10. ^ "American Can Picks a Name". The New York Times. 1987-03-07. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  11. ^ Perlman, Merrill (1987-05-31). "WEEK IN BUSINESS; PRIMERICA SHARPENS ITS FINANCIAL FOCUS". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  12. ^ a b c "Primerica Financial Services". Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  13. ^ "Primerica Financial Services to Offer Legal Plans Through Pre-paid Legal Services, Inc". Business Wire. 1997-12-19. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  14. ^ SEC Release No.40269 - July 28, 1998
  15. ^ Williams, Art; Karen Kassel Hutto (June 2006). Coach. Atlanta, Georgia: Art Williams Productions. ISBN 0-9786266-0-5. 
  16. ^ Primerica 2007 Georgia Dome event
  17. ^ "Atlanta’s Largest Corporate Convention Raises Attendance" (PDF). Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  18. ^ Stempel, Jonathan (2009-02-06). "Citigroup scraps Primerica convention, Bahamas trip". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  19. ^ Chris Cotter. (2009). [TV]. Fox News. 
  20. ^ a b Fineman, Josh (2009-01-15). "Primerica Said to Drop Citigroup References on Cards, Brochures". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  21. ^ Bansal, Paritosh (2008-06-06). "Citi gets initial bids for Primerica unit: sources". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  22. ^ "Primerica prepares to be taken off Citi's map". 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  23. ^ Wahba, Phil (2008-09-05). "Citi could sell Primerica, Texas business: Ladenburg's Bove". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  24. ^ Magpily, Gerald (2008-12-11). "Primerica sale is a bust for Citi". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  25. ^ "Citi's Primerica seeks bids for marketing arm: report". Yahoo!. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  26. ^ Kulikowski, Laurie (2009-11-09). "Citi's Primerica IPO Points to Strategy Shift". Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  27. ^ "Citi Announces Filing of Registration Statement for Primerica IPO". Citi. 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  28. ^ Barr, Alistair (2009-11-05). "Citigroup files for IPO of Primerica unit". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  29. ^ Kairer, Ryan (2005-08-30). "Primerica Deploys 4,000 Palm Devices". Palm Infocenter. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  30. ^ "Primerica Financial Services Uses Palm Devices to Automate Insurance Application Review". Palm, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  31. ^ "Primerica Runs Customized Financial Services Application on Palm Handhelds and Smartphones". Business Wire. 2005-08-30. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  32. ^ Sisk, Michael (2005-11-01). "Primerica Experiment in Insurance Pays Off". US Banker. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  33. ^ "Primerica Goes Mobile". Ask Primerica. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  34. ^ "A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Primerica Life Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries". Reuters. 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  35. ^ Primerica Life Standard & Poor's Rating
  36. ^ "Primerica Life, National Benefit Life Renew Qualification in IMSA, Ethical Standards Organization". News Blaze. March 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  37. ^ Whalen, Kathleen (2010-01-21). "DALBAR Announces Its 2009 Customer Service Award Winners in Financial Services". Dalbar. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  38. ^ "Better Business Bureau Accredited Business Report". BBB Better Business Bureau. 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  39. ^ "Sale talk highlights the pressure on Citi". Financial Times. 2009-01-10. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  40. ^ "Primerica Disclosures". Primerica. 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 


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