Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme? Best Answers

Is Thrivent Financial a pyramid scheme? 

This financial and insurance firm is something between a multi-level marketing company and a pyramid scheme. However, I feel it falls short of the definition of a pyramid scheme for several reasons. 

The organization does place a significant priority on recruiting new representatives, but it provides little training and little pay

Regardless, Thrivent Financial provides genuine services.

If you want to try your hand at becoming a financial advisor or insurance agent, you could become a Thrivent Financial representative. However, you can earn far more money elsewhere.

This guide contains information about Thrivent Financial compiled from trustworthy sources and my experience with the firm.

My objective is to assist you in understanding how this organization operates, what it’s recruiting process entails, how it rewards representatives, and whether this income opportunity is a good fit for you.

This article was written by a former Thrivent Financial representative and includes additional information from the Incomepedia Editorial Team.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Many consider Thrivent Financial a glorified pyramid scheme due to its high emphasis on recruitment. Source:
Many consider Thrivent Financial a glorified pyramid scheme due to its high emphasis on recruitment. Source:

Table of Contents

My Personal Experience

In mid-2020, I was approached by an acquaintance who turned out to be a Thrivent representative. 

He discussed the company’s many financial services, including financial management, debt management, financial strategy, and Thrivent investment management. However, he was particularly enthusiastic about promoting the company’s Life Insurance policy.

He mentioned how millions of American families are left with nothing once the primary earner passes away. I am that for my family, and he also explained how such families take years, if not decades, to get back on their feet if they do not have a robust life insurance policy.

He marketed Thrivent Financial Life Insurance Policy as the ideal solution to this issue. I had recently suffered a bout with covid and was worried for my family’s well-being if something happened to me.

I told him I was interested in getting a life insurance policy but wasn’t sure if Thrivent were the one to get them from. He then promoted Thrivent as the best company in the world and attempted to promote Thrivent Financial’s other services.

I told him I wasn’t interested in other services as I was a paycheck-to-paycheck person; even affording a life insurance premium could be more than I can chew.

The representative then shifted the subject and asked if I wanted to become a part-time Thrivent Financial representative. So that not only will I be able to afford a life insurance policy, but I can sell it to others and make money from it while also helping my friends and family suffering from the same predicament. 

The offer took me by surprise at first. I declined since I was content with my existing position as a high school janitor. Although the pay was poor, it was a safe and stable job.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial push advisors to sell annuities and life insurance over any other financial services. Source:
Thrivent Financial push advisors to sell annuities and life insurance over any other financial services. Source:

He mentioned that he worked as a driver during the day and as a Thrivent Financial Representative on the side. He mentioned how it helped him generate more money and how he could work whenever he wanted. He also talked about how the company was lovely, caring, and a community that was there for him.

I don’t know what happened at that moment, as the more he spoke about Thrivent, the more I was convinced that getting involved in a company like this was the right step for me. It all looked like a perfect solution to all my problems and worries.

I informed the representative that I lacked the necessary education and experience for financial services experience. He told me I would not require credentials to begin working as a Thrivent Financial representative. 

He discussed how the organization teaches new hires and prepares them to advertise their services to prospective clients. All I needed to do was to attend corporate meetings of community engagement leaders and corporate leaders to learn from them. 

He also provided a brief description of the company’s pay system and the person-to-person sales method you can make money. My job as a janitor was nothing special, the pay was low, and I struggled to make ends meet. Hence, having a flexible income source didn’t seem like a terrible idea.

I decided to try it and became a Thrivent Financial representative for more than a year. The sign-up process, like most MLM companies sell, was straightforward. I completed their Application and paid a $19.95 annual fee to become a member.

I was then trained for a few weeks primarily in marketing strategy to learn the Thrivent marketing model. At times the tricks we were being taught felt like both illegal pyramid schemes and legal pyramid schemes. Our target audience was Lutheran church members with significant own income.

We were taught to play an endless game of God’s fear with them to make them sign-up with us for life insurance, and even the company’s first big ad campaign of marketing also promoted this story.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial teaches agents how to make their plans sound enticing. Source:
Thrivent Financial teaches agents how to make their plans sound enticing. Source:

I worked as a Thrivent Financial representative part-time for sixteen months before leaving. During this period, I learned a lot about sales promotions. 

However, I rapidly became dissatisfied with advertising the same Life Insurance policy to each new client. Given that this was their distinctive service, the corporation urged me to advertise it relentlessly.

I wasn’t excited about promoting an insurance plan when so many better options were available. The corporation also urged me to find new representatives with the promise of additional income. However, I decided to concentrate on sales tasks rather than recruitment.

Before quitting, I made about $8,000 in commissions in sixteen months. This sum was astoundingly low given the time I spent advertising Thrivent Financial.

I would not suggest Thrivent Financial to anyone who wants to work as a professional financial/insurance advisor. My training felt like second grade, and we were given a limited variety of fear-mongering methods to convert clients, which after a while felt abhorrent.

I was able to sell their Life Insurance to a limited number of customers. However, most of these consumers were uneducated and had no knowledge of insurance as a product.

It felt terrible after a time to force Thrivent Financial’s insurance on such folks. This is because there are other more cheap insurance options available. 

Thrivent Financial was not the ideal part-time job I had hoped for. After spending hundreds of hours addressing potential clients, I only made $8,000 in sixteen months. I would not recommend this income idea to anyone looking to earn a lot of cash.

My experience could have been just an individual experience. 

So, I would focus on the organization, its services, recruitment processes, and legal challenges. 

Hopefully, this will help you make a more informed decision about becoming a Representative. 

So join me as I investigate Thrivent Financial to see if it is a viable income-generation framework. 

What is Thrivent Financial

Thrivent Financial is an American financial services company that is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Offering services such as financial advice, investments, insurance, banking, and charity programs.

Thrivent Financial has established itself as one of the leading multi-level marketing firms specializing in insurance and financial services. They have earned this reputation because they target vulnerable religious people in the garb of support, and so far, this act has brought them significant success.

They act by priding themselves on the understanding that when you have what you need financially. So you can focus on the essential things, such as your hobbies and the people you care about.

Thrivent Financial representatives frequently use religion to attract under-educated middle-class families with low financial expertise. This strategy has proven incredibly effective, with Thrivent’s assets under management increasing to $189 billion by 2021.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial pioneered the term “Be Wise With Money.” Source:
Thrivent Financial pioneered the term “Be Wise With Money.” Source:

Thrivent Financial’s Insurance and Financial Services

The company is best known for offering various financial services. This includes:

  • Advice services
  • Financial planning
  • Personal trust
  • Life insurance
  • Investments
  • Mutual funds
  • Managed accounts
  • Annuities
  • Generosity
  • Banking

Many of the financial services mentioned above are prepackaged offerings from other providers. Despite this, the organization has successfully signed up clients for these services due to their religious sales pitch.


Albert Voecks, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Appleton, Wisconsin, approached fellow church members Gottlieb Ziegler and William Zuehlke in 1899 with the notion of forming a Lutheran insurance organization.

Three years after this seed of thought, Thrivent was founded in 1902 when 500 founding members contributed $5 to $13 apiece to create a life insurance fund. It began as a strictly Lutheran establishment.

For the next 60 years, it remained until 1962, when Thrivent expanded beyond life insurance to include health products and investment advice/opportunities.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial's current board of directors. Image source:
Thrivent Financial’s current board of directors. Image source:

The following 50 years were spent in this stage before its subsequent expansion in 2001, when Thrivent’s two founding firms merged to provide additional value to clients, forming Thrivent as it is known today.

A decade later, it was approved by the board members to no longer be a Lutheran’s only organization, and Christians of other packs were open arm accepted. In the next decade, it has expanded its reach so much that it is considered one of the most extensive members-only financial services.

You can learn more about Thrivent Financial’s origin from the following video:

CEO and Staff

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Teresa J. Rasmussen has served as Thrivent Financial’s CEO since 2020. Image source: The Business
Teresa J. Rasmussen has served as Thrivent Financial’s CEO since 2020. Image source: The Business

Teresa (Terry) Rasmussen is the President and CEO of Thrivent. She also serves on the Board of Directors and the Governance and Executive committees.

Rasmussen previously served as president of Thrivent’s core life, health, and annuities business after serving as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for ten years. 

Rasmussen formerly worked at American Express in various legal leadership capacities, including vice president and managing counsel.

Thrivent is developing into a comprehensive financial service firm under Rasmussen’s leadership, assisting present and future generations in achieving financial clarity and living life full of purpose and appreciation. 

Thrivent provides clients in communities around the United States with guidance, insurance, investments, banking, and philanthropy products and programs.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial has over 7,475 full-time employees. Image source: Linkedin
Thrivent Financial has over 7,475 full-time employees. Image source: Linkedin

According to the Thrivent Linkedin page, this organization has 7,475 full-time employees. However, its strength lies in its part-time workers/volunteers, who account for more than 1.9 million people.

This mass appeal and their primarily positive word of mouth have made Thrivent one of the world’s leading members-only financial services.

Is Thrivent Financial a Pyramid Scheme?

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Pyramid schemes typically possess certain characteristics. Image source: The Balance
Pyramid schemes typically possess certain characteristics. Image source: The Balance

You might be wondering if Thrivent Financial is a pyramid scheme. To answer this, we need to review the legal definition of a pyramid scheme. 

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a pyramid scheme is:

 “an investment fraud in which new participants’ fees are typically used to pay money to existing participants for recruiting new consultants.”

SEC describes pyramid schemes as having the following traits:

  1. No genuine products or services are sold
  2. Members are promised high returns in a short period of time
  3. Members are told the business model allows them to make easy money or passive income
  4. There is no demonstrable revenue generated from retail sales
  5. Members must make a purchase to sign-up
  6. The business has a complex commission structure
  7. The business model places a high emphasis on recruiting

Why Isn’t Thrivent Financial a Pyramid Scheme?

Thrivent Financial is a multi-level marketing company. I wouldn’t call it a pyramid scheme because it lacks some of the abovementioned characteristics. This includes the following:

#1. It Offers Genuine Services

Thrivent Financial offers a wide range of financial services. Millions of individuals worldwide have joined Thrivent Financials’ insurance plans or used their financial services at some time, proving that they provide legitimate services.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial services offered as of 2021. Image source:
Thrivent Financial services offered as of 2021. Image source:

#2. No High Returns Promised in a Short Period.

Thrivent Financial does not guarantee high commissions to its representatives. Despite working for the firm for sixteen months, our source only earned $8,000 in commissions.

This is not considered a high annual income. However, he was only part-time, and the great majority of Thrivent Financials’ representatives are just part-time. However, even for part-time employees, it is less than the minimum wage.

#3. Members are Told the Business Model Allows Them to Work Flexibly Not Make Easy Money

Thrivent Financial discusses how working with them allows you to work on your own time and have a flexible schedule during your employment tenure. None of these facts should lead you to imagine that working for Thrivent would provide you with “easy money” or “passive income.”

#4. There is Revenue Generated from Retail Sales.

According to Thrivent Financial’s financial statement, the firm made more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2021. Most of these earnings were most likely generated through selling insurance policies and providing financial services.

The firm charges a $19.95 registration fee. If its 1.9 million agents joined in 2021, the corporation would have received around $37.9 million in sign-up fees.

This is far less than Thrivent Financial’s $2.6 billion sales reported for 2021 results. Based on this data, we can deduce that Thrivent Financial gets most of its income through sales of financial services.

#5. Members Do Not Need To Make a Purchase to Sign-Up

Thrivent Financial stands out from multi-level marketing schemes that sell products because you don’t need to purchase products or hold inventory. As an agent, you can join the company in three ways which are the following.

  • Open a Mutual Fund Account
  • Activate a checking or savings account
  • Pay an annual fee of $19.95 to join

Why Do People Think Thrivent Financial is a Pyramid Scheme?

Thrivent Financial is often regarded as a pyramid scheme. People believe this for the following reasons:

Thrivent Financial Has an Annual Fee

Pyramid schemes are often funded by accepting money from new recruits. The funds are often obtained from product purchases. However, many of these businesses charge annual sign-up or membership fees.

To become a member of Thrivent Financial, you must pay $19.95. This $19.95 registration price is reasonable because it includes training and other onboarding requirements. Nonetheless, because of its presence, individuals have trouble believing that Thrivent is not a pyramid scheme.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : You must pay a sign-up fee to become a Thrivent Financial member. Source:
You must pay a sign-up fee to become a Thrivent Financial member. Source:

The Company Does Not Disclose Information About Representative Earnings

If you spend time exploring the Thrivent Financial website, you’ll realize that they don’t disclose sufficient information regarding representative income. Earlier, I mentioned that our source merely collected $8,000 in commissions while working for the organization for sixteen months.

Aside from this amount, it is difficult to determine how much representatives earn at the organization. The organization is organized into tiers. This implies that a new agent or “associate” may be promoted ten times and earn more money with each one.

However, due to the company’s lack of information, you would be unable to estimate your average earnings.

The Business Model Encourages Recruitment

If you want to increase your profits, Thrivent Financials’ business model pushes you to recruit new members. They accomplish this by providing you with a percentage of the commissions earned by your recruits.

How Much Money Can You Earn from Thrivent Financial?

Fact: Our Thrivent Financial’s representative source earned an average of $8,000 in 2020-2021. He disclosed this information to us.

Thrivent Financial consultants often begin as “Associates.” When they get their license, they are appointed to the Representative level. They will subsequently be able to begin selling Thrivent Financials’ services.

Representatives can advance to higher levels if they accomplish particular sales and recruiting objectives. More-level agents often earn higher commissions.

Unfortunately, Thrivent Financial has not made crucial information regarding these levels available. This provides details on

  • Each level’s average earnings
  • The proportion of agents at each level
  • How long do most agents stay at each level?

Because there is so little information available, determining how much you would likely earn as a Thrivent Financial representative is challenging.

How to Earn Income Through Thrivent Financial?

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : You can earn money from Thrivent Financial in different ways. Source:
You can earn money from Thrivent Financial in different ways. Source:

Thrivent representatives receive compensation based on their clients’ products or services. This is compensated for by fees, levies, commissions, and other means.

Fees and levies you must pay in general, there are two kinds:

  • Base fees for expenditures associated with your product or service. Examples include advisory fees for expert investment advice or recurring expenses for annuity benefits.
  • Charges for features or transactions you choose. Two examples are a penalty cost (or surrender charge) for withdrawing assets from an annuity sooner than intended or an IRA custodian closing fee for a brokerage account.

When customers invest in a product or service and own it, Thrivent financial representatives get commissions or other remuneration.

You can learn more about earning money with Thrivent Financial in the following Youtube video:

3 Key Advantages of Becoming a Thrivent Financial Agent.

Pro #1. Product Purchase or Inventory Maintenance Not Required

Thrivent Financial differs from other multi-level sales promotions because it does not need you to buy anything. As a representative, you will market the services of Thrivent Financial. You will accomplish this without keeping an inventory or meeting a sales target.

Pro #2. Working for a Reputable Finance Company

Thrivent Financial has a strong reputation in the finance world. The company has a $189 billion market value in asset management and revenue of $2.6 billion.

Pro #3. Support is Offered.

The $19.95 sign-up fee for Thrivent Financial covers training expenditures. This implies that you can train to be a professional financial agent at a minimal cost. You could use these talents in other areas if you leave Thrivent Financial.

3 Key Disadvantages of Becoming a Thrivent Financial consultant.

Con #1. Preparation is Negligible

Our source reported that training at Thrivent Financial was quite restricted. They showed me how to use a script for marketing their products and recruiting individuals. This strategy may work for certain enforcers. However, I believed it was ineffective in competing with professional insurance brokers.

The firm encouraged you to acquire more representatives but did little to assist you in becoming a better representative.

Con #2. Overuse of Emotional Buying Tactics

As a representative, our source was instructed to use emotional purchasing strategies to sell Thrivent Financial Services. Our source felt terrible about utilizing this strategy on middle-class families with minimal financial knowledge.

To make matters worse, our source was aware that these families could be better off from other insurance products. 

Working as a Thrivent Financial representative may not be for you if you can’t stand the notion of preying on vulnerable households.

Con #3. You’re Not Going to Make A Lot of money

Remember, our source at Thrivent Financial earned an average of $8,000 in sixteen months. That comes to around $500 per month.

These profits might be sufficient if you worked part-time. However, our rep spent several days every month on sales and recruitment.

For example, our source earned roughly $500 monthly after fifty to sixty hours of labor. That is more than the minimum wage. However, our rep pay was far lower than the $23 to $29 hourly wage experienced financial representatives usually earn.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : You might earn less than you imagined as a Thrivent Financial agent. Source: Tenor
You might earn less than you imagined as a Thrivent Financial agent. Source: Tenor

Major Thrivent Financial Controversy

Thrivent Financial may possess a solid financial reputation. That doesn’t mean they haven’t had their fair share of legal problems.

Among the significant disputes and controversies involving the corporation are:

Racism Scandal

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Gregory M. Smith, an ex-executive, sued Thrivent stating racism as the reason. Source Star
Gregory M. Smith, an ex-executive, sued Thrivent stating racism as the reason. Source Star

Gregory M. Smith, A black executive, claims he was fired as president of a Thrivent Financial subsidiary because he accused a co-worker of racial discrimination, according to a lawsuit he filed against the financial services firm.

Thrivent denied the allegations; in a statement, he stated that Gregory M. Smith’s employment with Thrivent ended less than a year after he was hired because, among other things, he failed to conduct himself according to the standards of leadership and integrity that Thrivent demands of all of its employees.

This case brought a lot of bad publicity to the financial firm in 2017, but given its outstanding performance in 2021, we believe the blowback of this event is now over.

Failure to Pay Benefits Controversy

In 2018, a report was published in a local newspaper in which Lorraine Guenther, 98, of Milwaukee, claimed she had a deal with Thrivent Financial when she bought their life insurance in her 60s and wasn’t paid. 

This occurred because 30-plus years later, she discovered there was no money as she outlived the deal limit. Thrivent refused to comment on this story, and eventually, it died down but not before damaging their people’s image and reputation for a lot of their members and potential members. 

In the end, Thrivent Financial did not pay her or her family members the full benefits, and they were criticized for skimming an older woman for a technicality.

Is Thrivent Financial A Pyramid Scheme : Thrivent Financial refused life insurance payments to a 98-year-old. Source:
Thrivent Financial refused life insurance payments to a 98-year-old. Source:

Final Thoughts

Based on the information provided above, you should be able to make an informed choice about becoming a representative for Thrivent Financial. The firm is not a pyramid scheme. However, you should not have unrealistic expectations.

Thrivent Financial is a multi-level marketing program with a solid financial record. This, however, does not necessarily make it a suitable fit for those who work as its representatives.

Our source regretted his experience with the company as he spent hundreds of hours promoting services to underinformed individuals with high debt burdens and, in return, made close to no money for it.

Who Would Thrivent Financial Be a Good Fit For?

Thrivent Financial is a fine place to start if you want to learn about the finance industry. You may use what you’ve learned to earn money in various ways. However, you should not expect to get wealthy using this income idea.

Working as a part-time Thrivent Financial representative can allow you to boost your monthly income. However, you could receive higher pay as a professional finance representative in other organizations.

I believe Thrivent Financial can help you understand more about the finance industry. After you’ve gained confidence, you should hunt for full-time employment at a different finance firm.

I hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand more about Thrivent Financial and whether it is the right fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Services does Thrivent Financial offer?

Thrivent Financial Offers the following services:

  • Advice services
  • Financial planning
  • Personal trust
  • Life insurance
  • Investments
  • Mutual funds
  • Managed accounts
  • Annuities
  • Generosity
  • Banking

How Can You Become A Thrivent Financial Member?

You can become a Thrivent Financial member in the following three manners:

  • Open a Mutual Fund Account
  • Activate a checking or savings account
  • Pay an annual fee of $19.95 to join

How much does it cost to leave Thrivent Financial?

Thrivent Financial won’t charge you if you choose to leave the company. However, you should tell them before the start of the following year to ensure you don’t get charged the $19.95 renewal fee.


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Our Editor-in-Cheif works as a strategist at a Fortune 500 financial institution. He brings depth into our content with 10+ years of experience in managing businesses and evaluating deals. He loves the combination of boring business concepts and interesting pop culture snippets. This site is run by a team from major financial hubs in New York, Hong Kong, and London. Find out more about us.

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