Russell McQuillan speaks with Jeff Lestz CEO and Co-Founder of Genistar

Since writing my last article about Genistar, the number of responses and questions raised from this both for and against the company have been flooding in.

Jeff Lestz, CEO and Co- Founder of Genistar takes the time to speak with me, to let people get to know the man behind Genistar and his vision for the future.

Name, age, etc

Jeffrey Lestz, aged 53
Where are you from?

Chicago, Illinois, USA
Where do you live now?

London since 2003
Are you married ?  Any kids ?

I have a wife, Margo. We dated from the age of 16 and married at 19.We have been happily married for 34 years. No Children.
What was your first job?

I was an independent financial advisor in the USA.  I started in November 1975.
What was the best job you ever had?

Working in financial services in the only full-time job I ever had and I love it!
What was the worst job you ever had?

I always like what I did even working part-time whilst at University.  I always looked at each job as a learning experience, an opportunity to get knowledge and training.
What makes a good leader?

To me a good leader is ultimately judged by how many good leaders they produce and how many people they helped reach their goals.  A good leader does not really care who gets the credit as long as the job is done.
Describe your typical day?

I rise early to exercise for 45 – 60 minutes – typically a 10 mile bike ride.  I try to read or listen to something inspirational each day before getting started.  I answer emails for 1 – 2 hours each day and am on the phone for 3 – 5 hours per day with our top associates and leaders, seeing how they are doing and coaching them in building their businesses.  Another is spent with my PA covering any issues or projects that we are working on.  Bob Safford, our other Co-CEO, and I try to talk daily about any issues we might have to address.  I average between one and two conference calls per day on either product development, future planning or a motivational and training call with one of our leader’s team. I try to end every day by reading something educational and spend a nice dinner or walk with Margo to discuss our day.
Typically I am on the road travelling to our offices throughout the UK working with our leaders & meeting new associates.
What does Genistar do?

Genistar is a financial services company which prides itself on giving financial education. We help middle income families plan their future and help educate them to make the right decisions for themselves. I always like to say, we give people a PHD that stands for Proper Honest Direction in matters concerning their financial future.
How many people do you have in the UK?    We have recruited 1700+ associates and about 500 of those are on the FSA register. Many of the others are still getting qualified.
What are your expansion plans?

We founded Genistar in July 2007 and are very focused on developing the UK over the next 5-10 years. As we develop leaders and grow our distribution system we would eventually like to expand into the rest of the EU. The future is very much dependent on how we do in the UK first. We do not want to expand into other countries before we are ready.
We have already had offers from people in other countries to bring our business model but we are very focused on the UK for now.
What’s the best thing about your job?

There are two things that get me up early in the morning.  1) We have a huge job educating people how they can be free financially. This is a real mission for us. 2) Seeing people come into the company who have desire and drive and succeed. I thrive on seeing other people succeed. It is exhilarating for me to see a school teacher or a nurse who has no previous experience in financial services go make extra income and really achieve their dreams.
Our people (clients and associates) are our most important assets.
What’s the worst thing about your job?

Seeing how easily most people give up in business before giving it real effort. It also hurts me to see people not applying themselves when I know they can succeed if they just committed themselves.
Why do you charge trainees £140 to set up?

The fee is to pay for their training manual, exam, competency training, the legal background checks (credit, terrorist and money laundering checks) and finally registration with the FSA. As we are in financial services, we have to be fully compliant. The Financial services is a highly regulated business. This is not a job; our representatives are effectively self employed and earn commission income. The fee is also a deterrent to people who   aren’t really serious.
What percentage of people you recruit go onto make £1000 per month?
WE are totally transparent  on this so, here are the numbers. 50% of the people who sign up, go on to complete their competency requirements. Out of this group 50% actually go onto make money in our business. For those who don’t make money, it’s because   they choose not to go and see people and as a result they make no money. So, 25% go on to make money.  The amount that 25% makes could be from £200 per month to several thousand pounds in a month. Last year our top associate made £104,000 in his first year. It really is dependent on your individual and team efforts. Also, it takes some people years to blossom and that is part of our leadership development system. It is like a health club. Many people get a membership but how many are committed enough to go and work out each day? The same disciplines are necessary in Genistar. It takes discipline to work 6-8 hours per week on top of your day job. We also find many people join us just to get the financial education and that is worth 10x more than the small fee they pay.
What’s your drop out percentage?

Those who follow through getting on the FSA register stay with us. I would say of this group less than 20% drop out. The difficulty is that you have to be self motivated. No one is breathing down your neck to hit targets.
Have you ever been investigated by the FSA? No. We have had some audits and just like all FSA registered companies we have to submit a report every 6 months and follow very strict procedures to stay in business.
Why do you try to recruit customers?

The opportunity to work with us is almost always presented to customers. The reason for this is that after most people do a financial game plan with us they have a need to make additional monies to fulfil what their goals and dreams are. We can offer them the opportunity to make £500-£1,000 per month for 6-8 hours per week. They are also really great cheerleaders of what we do because they just experienced firsthand how we were able to help them in their financial future.
Why is there no company background / info on your website?

Genistar incorporated in July 2007 and we got registered with the FSA in late October 2007. Our current website was put up in 2007 as a site to answer initial questions. Many businesses spend a lot of time on websites. We knew we had to launch the business with the most important asset we could get…..people.
We have been growing so fast that the website just wasn’t a key priority. Now that we have our systems in place we will get a fantastic site up. Obviously we still plan to keep our focus on people and serving both our clients and associates.
What’s the future for Genistar?

None of us have a crystal ball, but we are very optimistic about the future. We believe that by the year 2013 we will have 10,000 associates on the FSA register which is equal to the projection of what the entire IFA market will be. We feel we are at the right place at the right time. We know it will not be easy and we know there will be challenges just like life.
We have plans to expand into other product lines that save the consumer money as we build a dynamic distribution system.
Surely if your business is successful then you will recruit all your customers and have no one to sell to?    That is what I said to our former company in the US and after more than 30 years they have less than 3% of the market. In the UK 25 years ago there were 250,000+ people selling financial services. Today there are fewer than 30,000 and it is projected to decrease to 10,000 or fewer by the year 2013. The population of the UK is about 60 million and it would take a lot to saturate that market! I have three things to say about this.1) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get every family in the UK educated about money, every home debt free and financially independent? 2) We would like Genistar to become the company which achieves that 3) If this happens then we will expand into South of Ireland, the rest of the EU, Asia, Africa …you get the idea.
What makes you different from other financial advisors?

Well, firstly we are not IFAs. Our business model deals with the average middle income family. We believe that if people are educated on finances they will be able to make the right choices. The problem is that most people in the financial industry do not want to take the time to teach people the basics. Once a consumer is educated, you have empowered them to make the right decisions with our associates guiding them. We believe that no one looks out for your own money like yourself, so understand it by becoming knowledgeable. It is all about education & empowerment.
We also use experts in their appropriate field and do not try to be an expert in every area ourselves. As an example, we have a mortgage broker with 20+ years who deals with the whole of market. We simply refer everyone to him and he gives people the guidance and advice they need. That way our associates can focus on prospecting and building a business. They are also confident that they can turn their clients over to an expert.
Why is this not a pyramid scheme?

Let’s first ask What is a Pyramid? (Not the ones in Egypt!)
A pyramid is where people get a fee for getting you to join a scheme and getting your money and once it goes through (for example) 50 people paying 1,000 pounds you get 10,000 pounds or some ridiculous figure. The pyramid collapses and the last ones paying in are left with losses and the scoundrels who started it are always the ones who make the money.
The only time that we make money is when a customer does business with us through a financial services transaction. Unlike pyramids, our people do not get compensated for recruiting. There is a part of our system whereby an experienced and qualified Appointed Representative can receive a management override for helping in the supervision of their team mates. This is often misunderstood as ‘multi-level’ but this has been a norm in the financial services industry for more than 100 years. Most companies increase compensation for supervision.

At Genistar, we have thought outside the box by giving our associates a chance to be compensated by helping to build the company together. They have the opportunity to build a team and participate financially by growing a team within a company. Their income depends on the success and profitability of their performance and the team’s performance, not the number of warm bodies that they recruit. Unlike many corporate jobs where you only get paid what the boss/owner says that you are worth, at Genistar we get paid based on measurable performance; but there are always some lazy people who won’t like that type of structure! Within most companies a person is rarely given the opportunity for advancement. At Genistar, we outline exactly what is necessary for promotion within the company. We want to develop leaders.We believe that without successors there is no success.
Finally in a pyramid you cannot pass the person who brought you in. In Genistar you can get passed by someone you recruited if you do not develop other leaders.
I hope this helps people to understand more about Genistar. We believe we have a great future.


15 Comments on “Russell McQuillan speaks with Jeff Lestz CEO and Co-Founder of Genistar”

  1. pamela.giro says:

    This was a very interesting interview.

    My husband and I were mildly interested in Genistar but when we attended the meeting on Oxford Street, we were completely put off.

    It felt very smug and preachy. We didn’t like it at all. We do not want to train or pay £140. We were not impressed.

    The intentions might be good but it is not something we wish to be part of.

  2. Bridging says:

    At least I found direct answer!

  3. Hi Pamela

    Why did you not want to train ? Surely you would have to train with any job ? No one is a professional from day one ?


  4. Derek Archibald says:

    I was introduced to the opportunity back in Jun/Jul 09. I attended the weekly training and sat the exams. All I had to do was complete the field training and be signed off on the FSA registar. Despite all this and 5/6months later my field training was incomplete and I got fed up, as I had to relie on others; normally the person who gets you in, for this. I thought the programme and the ideas of Genistar were good and I kept in touch for a while then stopped. I will give them credit in the fact that I was e never harrassed or bombarded with calls as why I have suddenly disappeared.

  5. Gerald Powell says:

    I have been a member of Genistar since November 2009, I have had to work hard as I expected. I now have 7 people in my team and cannot get over the expression on peoples faces when we show them how to make their money work for them and get out of debt.
    They do get a little peeved when they find out how the financial institutions work off of their backs.
    The fact that we are helping people and making money gets me out of bed every morning. I am going full time as soon as is feasible.

  6. Gary says:

    I have been approached with the Genistar opportunity and I must admit that it appeals to my own values / belief system – I cringe a bit at the “Christian” references but to be honest I’ve only ever seen the Christian ethos as being a decent ‘human’ ethos – as an atheist I still hold the same basic values.
    I’d be interested to know what the real deal is regarding income potential; is it realistic to expect to earn £20,000 per annum working part-time? (part-time = say 12 – 16hrs per week).
    I say £20,000 because that’s really my minimum if I am to dedicate time to something like this. If it works out I would consider going full-time.

  7. Jan Owbridge says:

    I am a Vice President with Genistar and I was involved from the inception. I have had the privilege of working with Jeff Lestz for several years and have found that the business – Genistar – is based on the same values that Jeff himself stands for. It doesn’t matter what your spiritual background or standing, everyone who wants an ethical company that is good for people will find a home with Genistar.
    You asked about realistic figures – my son is a Senior Team Leader – which is the second leadership level in Genistar – and last week he earned over £2,500. It didn’t fall out of the sky – he had to work for it. He saw six families last week and helped all of them. Some of them saw their debt reduced by dozens of years, saving them thousands in interest payments. As a result he got 103 referrals – names of people who need what we do.
    Now, we all know, don’t we, that the only time Success comes before Work is in the dictionary?
    My son worked hard. He was out seeing families to help them instead of laying around in front of the TV every night. But he knows that paying the price now will mean he can do what he likes in five to seven years.
    Genistar is an opportunity like no other. It is a company of integrity and purpose. Does everyone make money? No. Does everyone who follows the system make money? Absolutely.
    It really grieves me when people make deciisions based on lack of knowledge; we never ask anyone to consider going full time unless their part time income exceeds their current full time income.
    If anyone is considering looking at the opportunity I would urge you to do so. Attend an interview and get all your questions answered. Make an informed decision. You will be glad you did.

  8. Phoebe says:

    Tell us why Citisolutions deregistered and suspiciously reformed as Genistar within a week of each other with the same directors/uplines etc ? did all the old reps from Citi get let down/unpaid? or re-recruited at the bottom? this company gives a crappy commission level compared to the uplines significant spoils. Independent directly authorised IFAS in the uk can expect up to 195 % PER CASE commission, Genistar gives 10% of ANNUAL premium for reps at the first level, and they decide when you get ‘promoted’ so basically you pay for your so called promotion, incentive trip etc Genistar CEO Jeff, PAY the people properly, you know its the right thing to do, they get YOU the contacts/sales not the other way round! Oh and Russell do you work for them LOL

  9. Jan Owbridge says:

    Oh dear, Pheobe, you obviously have NO idea of the facts…. I can’t speak for what an IFA gets so I don’t know how true THAT part is, but EVERYTHING else is untrue. Sorry, but if you are going to make statements rather than opinions at least try to find out the truth before you write.

  10. smartALI says:

    I agree russell. I think a person cant move in life without training and knowledge! and if you really want to get far in life then you should ‘go some to get some’.


  11. smartALI says:

    Very incourging gerald thakns.



  12. smartALI says:

    I agree!

  13. Tia says:

    I went to the meeting and was very very very impressed! since joining the company i have gone on to make a great income, twice as much as my day job and most of my clients have also joined the company. With all due respect this is a business not a JOB. It always makes me cringe when a poor person moans about paying, they expect to get rich for free. Stay broke

  14. Kemi says:

    Well, I just received a phone call this afternoon and will be visited by the Genistar rep next week. I have done a wee bit of research and I like what I have read. I am looking forward to the interview, I being the interviewer and obviously getting all of the information that I will need in order to make an informed decision.
    From what I have read, I like Genistar and as I am very interested in understanding and becoming financially intelligent personally and be able to train others, I am looking forward to this.
    I will leave another comment with my findings, decision to join or not to join.
    So far, so good.

  15. Gary Lewis says:

    As 1 of the few Reps with Genistar in the UK to have come out of Financial Services, it may be useful to share my experience over 20 years as a Senior Financial Adviser, as an IFA for the latter 10 years, and what I see with Genistar.

    As an adviser I was driven by helping people and developing and nurturing and providing Rhe tools and solutions, working in close conjunction and relationship to help my clients firstly identify and then with integrity find a way to achieve their dreams.

    Working on this model, driven to demonstrate you could be a success without compromising values, and by truly benefitting others 1st, not just ‘selling’ my business developed. Towards the latter end of my Financial Services years, having built slowly and continuously, i was beggining to see the fruit of many years hard work and earning good levels of income as a result of helping others. Sadly, as I was a Mortgage and Protection Specialist, this came to a dramatic and sudden end when my ability to continue helping others achieve their goals was Greatly diminished with the onset of the credit crunch. This had a devastating affect on me and my family and I was no longer able to earn the income I needed to stay in the industry. I hated leaving, but with hugely increased regulatory requirements, and a massive reduction in the opportunity and people’s ability to meet lenders requirements, I had little choice.

    Long story short, when I saw Genistar just a few months ago it was like all my Christmasses had come at once. As a Financial Services Professional I can honestly say The Heart, Integrity and Credibility of the company are 2nd to none. I have now refound my passion and purpose, and it provides me with a unique vehicle to help others, and provide a combination of services, benefits, products and education nobody else in the UK is. The difference and main thing is this, the masses cannot or choose not to pay IFA fees which is how the FSA want IFAs working. This will restrict independent advice to a v select few. With the huge industry costs, most IFAs cannot to afford to work this market. The alternative for the masses, and who has benefitted most from the credit crunch are the banks, having Greatly increased their Market share after squeezing independent advisers out deliberately to achieve this, after they wreaked havoc with their bad practices and risk/greed. Genistar now provides me the opportunity to build a team of like minded people to work with integrity and really, truly help people with their greatest decisions. This is how to make the most of their money. Unique concepts to get out of debt quicker, get better returns on savings/investments, pay off mortgages quicker, save money on services every home and business need, and truly benefit and educate people on concepts and achieving the best results with whatever money they have. I for 1 am delighted. Nothing comes easy, there’s always a price, but for those who can see the Heart and the big picture, there’s a Huge opportunity and need, to help, teach and guide others with their finances, and frankly no one else is doing it. Whether it’s from an IFA, broker or bank, there’s been and will continue to be massive miss selling by sales people just to get a sale. Who will you trust with your Financial Education and to provide tailored solutions for your benefit? The banks!?! Genistar like any company are not perfect, because people work there. However, they have a very Big heart, and a Great proven model, and unique approach that is so needed in the UK, and most of the world right now. No1, there is integrity to operate on a Win Win basis, find out about the client, provide some options based on what they have said they want, educate them to make ongoing good choices to really benefit their lives on an ongoing basis for their benefit. I find that attractive and refreshing and wholesome, and am enjoying the journey. I feel I have got my life back, and my ability to help others with Genistar, it’s simply a Great vehicle and opportunity for the tight people, and it’s success is simply based on helping others, meet their needs, then yours get met, rather than selling anything to anybody because you’re under extreme pressure to meet sales targets or want to earn the commission.

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