5 Things You Never Knew About That Annoying Commercial You See Every Week

The business behind the repetitive J.G. Wentworth commercials.

Mar 2, 2014 at 11:44AM

Recognize the scene above?

It's taken directly from a J.G. Wentworth commercial. You know the name. It's the company that tells you that it's your money and you need it now.

Not following? Maybe 877-CASH-NOW will ring a bell.

Ahh, that company, you say. Yep, that company. If you're anything like me, you've seen their commercials far too often and wanted to know exactly how the business works. Luckily, its parent company JGWPT Holdings (NYSE: JGW) recently went public, giving us an inside glimpse into a business few know anything about.

Here are 5 surprising things you never knew you wanted to know about J.G. Wentworth.

1. It loves its marketing budget
Some companies highlight their products. Other companies showcase their executive team. J.G. Wentworth highlights its incessant television ads.

In fact, its marketing is what it discusses first in its formal presentations, revealing that it has spent $615 million on marketing since 1995. That's the equivalent of 200 Superbowl ads. Go figure.

2. Over 130 million people see its advertisements each week
Yep, nearly half of Americans see its advertisements in some way, shape or form in any given week. Most see the company on television.

Those in its target audience -- namely, those who watch daytime TV -- see J.G. Wentworth commercials more than five times per week.

3. Since 2005, J.G. Wentworth has bought $5.5 billion worth of settlements
J.G. Wentworth's main service is turning cash in the future into cash today, and since 2005, it's acquired more than $5.5 billion buying up America's structured settlements.

Where do all these deals come from? Glad you asked.

The company's presentations reveal most are from insurance settlements. However, it also takes a few bets on legal cases (pre-settlement funding), lottery payouts, and annuities owned by investors. Believe it or not, even lottery winners often turn to J.G. Wentworth to cash out of a multi-decade payout.

4. The business is riskless... almost
People turn to J.G. Wentworth when they have fallen on hard times. Maybe they need to cash out of a disability settlement to pay a lawyer. Maybe they need to sell part of their lottery winnings to pay off a growing pile of debt. Whatever the reason, J.G. Wentworth is usually happy to buy their settlements at a big discount.

Generally speaking, J.G. Wentworth customers would largely be considered subprime borrowers. But J.G. Wentworth doesn't provide a loan. It buys settlement contracts from individuals. And backing those payments are institutions like governments, insurance companies, and other high-quality credits.

Since 2002, J.G. Wentworth boasts impressive cumulative losses of 0.08% on its structured settlements, meaning it collects on all but 1 out of every 1,200 deals.

5. J.G. Wentworth restructures and sells its acquired settlements
The real money isn't made by buying structured settlements; it's made by packaging and reselling them. The company buys settlements at a discount rate of 8-14% (call it 11% on average) to resell at rates as low as 4%.

As an example, J.G. Wentworth would pay $147,231 for a $250,000 settlement paid out over 10 years. Then, it would package the settlement with others, sell it to investors, and collect as much as $202,772.

Now you see how the business can be wildly profitable. On this particular deal, J.G. Wentworth would record more than $55,500 in gross profits from just one transaction.

Love or hate its commercials, it's hard to argue that it isn't a fantastic business for its investors.

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