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Northwestern Mutual

Mission: We combine our unsurpassed financial strength, solutions and expertise with time-tested principles, a comprehensive approach to planning and a financial representative’s long-term commitment to listen to, guide and encourage you.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Austin, Texas
Franklin, Tennessee
Employees: 30781
  • Public Company - Market Cap $2.807 billion
  • none

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Northwestern Mutual  •
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Chicago, Illinois
About Our Team : We are looking for a hardworking individual with...
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Northwestern Mutual Salaries

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What employees at Northwestern Mutual think about working there

“There are some great people working here and overall I like that they really leave you to work at your own pace, but I found that management put a huge emphasis on making sales, and didn't really invest any time in making sure I felt comfortable. I felt like I joined this huge company that would eventually just spit me out, so I left.”
“The best part about working for Northwestern is that the job itself is pretty stable. The company has been performing well for a long time, and the work that you have to do is more of a numbers game than an actual skill / thinking thing. It can feel bad selling insurance to people who don't need it, but overall it pays the bills so you know...”
“Best part about Northwestern Mutual is that your work is 100% based on commission (the majority of the company is doing sales), and that commission isn't capped! If you're able to get the sales you'll be able to make a lot of money here.”
“I've met a lot of really great mentors at Northwestern Mutual when I first started working there that really helped me grow into being a confident and skilled representative. Lots of opportunity to move up as well if you put in the work and build relationships with your managers.”
“Not a bad job overall. You can pretty much start working with very little actual experience and they'll give you space to ramp up. The tough part is that because the salary is 100% based on sales, if you don't make the sales you won't be making any money which can be pretty stressful. ”

Northwestern Mutual Glassdoor Themes


Financial representatives make 100% of their earnings through commission, meaning that earning potential is basically unlimited. It’s hard work getting started, but Northwestern provides us with all the tools we need to succeed.
Making any money at all requires paying close attention to how everyone works and assimilating yourself fully into the corporate culture. The commission system can make life pretty lean at the start, when you don’t have a client base at all. But if you can stick it out, and manage to learn, you can make good money.


When I was first starting out at Northwestern, I found that my colleagues had a lot of wisdom that I could learn from. There were also expert financial planners who were there to help expand the business of representatives. Personally, I enjoyed having the freedom to learn how to do that myself.
What they give you is sales training. You’re basically on your own when it comes to learning about the products themselves. Management would probably say you can learn all of that on your own, but the fact is, even today I find myself unable to fully explain some of the products I’m selling.

Work/life Balance

You have to tap into your personal networks for business when you first start. It’s worth it in the long run. This kind of work requires you to have a long-term vision. Long term, you get to be your own boss.
The commission system means it’s sink or sell. There’s a lot of pressure to make sales. This pressure can translate into absurdly long work and doesn’t make for sustainable happiness or health. I saw many people jump ship before they could build up a client base.

A Day in the Life of a Financial Representative at NorthWestern Mutual

“Financial representative Josephina K drives to work in an old car--a dingy 2002 Toyota. At the moment, she can’t afford to upgrade it to anything newer or more stylish; she’s only just started working at Northwestern, and her commissions right now are so low that she has recently had to borrow from her savings. But she’s optimistic when she sees that many of her colleagues were once in her position and now seem to be quite comfortable. She also likes that she can set her own schedule; she shows up to work slightly after 9:00 a.m, and begins making phone calls.

These phone calls are awkward, on occasion. Josephina’s manager has told her to begin building her client base with the people she knows and the people they know. So she’s combing through her contacts and Facebook friends, reconnecting with people she hasn’t spoken to in years. This can be good and bad. Sometimes she worries that her old college friends think she’s trying to take advantage of old relationships. She is, in a way.

Yet Josephina’s a social person, and she also genuinely enjoys the amount of face-to-face interaction that this new Northwestern job entails. She has found a few customers through friends, and they have referred her, in turn, to their friends. Her sales require her to consult with clients, help them assess their financial circumstances and goals, and if all goes well, sell them a product like whole life insurance. The commission is high on whole life insurance.

People skills are important at Northwestern Mutual. Josephina sits with colleagues over the free lunch that her office provides. Her colleagues are “type-A” personalities, competitive like Josephina. The main differences between her and the others are and gender. Her most successful colleagues are middle aged men.

After lunch, Josephina K closes a sale. Closing a sale feels great, usually. She makes her commission, and people seem grateful and optimistic when they buy life insurance. Sometimes, Josephina feels a very slight pang of guilt when she sells whole life insurance to someone who doesn’t really need it, or to someone who will have to change their spending habits to afford the annual premium. Still, it’s a job, and a stable one. In today’s slow economy, she knows, this is one of the few job sectors expected to undergo major growth. Josephina leaves work at 7 p.m., tired and mostly content.”

What kind of skills do I need to succeed at Northwestern Mutual?

“To succeed at Northwestern Mutual, it’s important to have strong interpersonal skills. It can be helpful to have an established network of people who trust you. For commission-based positions, it may be a good idea to start a new job with some savings.”

What are the benefits and pension package like at Northwestern Mutual?

“Northwestern Mutual employees give their benefits package a positive rating, over all. Employees average 15-20 days of vacation per year, and the pension package is ample for those who stay at the company for a long time.”

Northwestern Mutual Employment and Hiring Practices

“Northwestern Mutual recruits on campuses and online. Online applicants fill out a standard application and get a call from Northwestern Mutual if a suitable position opens up. Applicants usually have to do a number of interviews before they get a position.”

How do you find management at Northwestern Mutual?

“With Northwestern Mutual being such a large company, there are huge pockets of really fantastic managers as well as really poor managers. The difficult part about Northwestern Mutual is I found it difficult to move around the company when I had a frustrating manager.

They take a really hands off approach in general. I felt I was treated like a number no matter my manager. A tool in their toolbelt to help hit their own goals. Some of the managers I worked with would work with me to help reach my goals and learn better sales tactics, but not many.

Most of the time I found that they put too much pressure on me to perform, which didn't give me the feeling that they were working with me. ”

What’s the best part of working for Northwestern Mutual?

When asked about the best part of their jobs, Northwestern employees often cite the degree of autonomy they enjoy. Employees often manage their own schedules and feel responsible for the money they take home at the end of the day.

Is it difficult working at Northwestern Mutual?

It can be tough working at Northwestern Mutual, especially when you’re first starting out. Commission-based jobs can be high stress demand long days. If you make it work, though, there’s tremendous opportunity to make money in sales.

What is the office environment like at Northwestern Mutual?

The office culture at Northwestern Mutual varies somewhat from office to office. Employees who stay longer at Northwestern tend to be thrive in competitive high-pressure environments.

Are there opportunities to grow your career at Northwestern Mutual?

“It really depends by what you mean with 'can I grow my career'. If your reference for growing your career is based on how much money you can make, then there is definitely an opportunity to get a bigger salary over time at Northwestern. If you mean grow into a management position, it can be a little bit more difficult. And if you mean growing your skills, then I don't really feel like Northwestern Mutual helps you too much.

With a 100% commission structure that gets you continuous income over years per sale, the more sales that you make means that over time your total yearly salary will continuously grow (if the people you sold the products to stay as customers).

If you want to move towards a management position you'll have to not only make a lot of sales and consistently hit your quota, but with NW being such a large workplace there's a lot of office politics you have to maneuver around. If you want to be promoted to a management position, you pretty much have to be a friend of the manager.

Unfortunately because the job roles are very focused towards a certain angle, there really isn't too much opportunity to grow your skill-set to grow your career (unless you want to make a career in sales). The policies we offer are pretty set, and very little work will actually be done in becoming a fully fledged representative/analyst.”

About Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual is a financial services company that offers consultation to help customers manage financial goals such as education, asset protection, and retirement planning. Through its subsidiary, Northwestern Mutual Management, Northwestern also sells financial products. These include investments, annuities, disability income, and--Northwestern’s speciality--whole life insurance. In practice, Northwestern Mutual sets up its customers with individual representatives, and representatives help customers plan their lives around their financial means and goals

Northwestern Mutual has enjoyed a reputation for stability since it began operating in the mid 19th century, when it opened up shop in the western frontier town of Milwaukee. Today, it boasts some of the best ratings among financial services companies. This means that it has consistently demonstrated the ability to pay out on claims. According to statistics from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Northwestern experiences few complaints relative to the amount of business it does.

Few is not none, and as with all insurance companies, it’s not difficult to find people who want to talk about their negative experiences. In the recent past, customers have complained about Northwestern’s poor online tools. As it stands, customers must arrange to speak to an agent by phone to get quotes, though Northwestern claims to be in the process of expanding online options. Other complaints focus on the pressure that Northwestern representatives put on customers to buy whole life insurance, whether or not it is in their best financial interest. Potential customers should note that agents make a high commission on sales of whole life insurance. Whole life insurance is an excellent product for some; not for everyone.

Northwestern is a mutual company. Rather than paying dividends to shareholders, the company redistributes them to shareholders. The “mutual” corporate structure is traditional in the American insurance company, though less common now than it was in the nineteenth century. Northwestern boasted the highest dividends in the insurance industry--8% in 2000--and continues to market its dividend performance. Nevertheless, dividends in recent years have shrunk considerably, to 4.9% in 2018 ($5.3 billion USD). Although this lower figure is consistent with trends across the industry, Northwestern mutual today reports the lowest dividend among leading life insurance companies. Competitors MassMutual, Penn Mutual, and Guardian have recently outperformed Northwestern in this respect. Northwestern remains a stalwart financial services company, renowned for its stability. However, it can no longer offer insurance policyholders the dividends that it once did.

Values and Beliefs

Northwestern Mutual’s corporate values are closely tied to its early history as a regional Midwestern concern. The company likes to tell a story about this early period in its history: When two early policyholders died in an accident, Midwestern could have gone bankrupt. Instead, trustees took out personal loans to keep the company afloat and ensure that Northwestern could honour its policies.

This heartwarming story of small community of businessmen coming together for the common good is a key element of Northwestern’s corporate identity. Even as it has become a national company, Northwestern has kept its headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. Like its hometown, Northwestern may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but nobody is complaining. The company is remarkably stable.

Northwestern Mutual’s status as a nonprofit mutual company buoys its reputation for trustworthiness. In company marketing material, Northwestern closely aligns its own fortunes with the financial wellbeing of individual customers. It prides itself on a historical reputation for earning policyholders high dividends, though it bears noting that these have fallen significantly in the past twenty years. No longer does Northwestern boast the largest mutual dividends in the United States.

Northwestern claims that it is highly committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, both in workplaces and in its customer base. This commitment is nothing out of the ordinary for a major financial services company. As much as anything, it reflects Northwestern’s interest in preserving its cultural relevance. American culture is changing, and so is the demographic makeup of the middle class. Applicants and would-be customers may be interested to know that Northwestern boasts accolades for LGBT, war veteran, and African American inclusion. It also has a record of direct engagement with minority communities in Milwaukee.

Interview Questions

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When answering this question, you should try to shift the emphasis of your answer away from yourself, towards Northwestern Mutual. Try to show that your goals are consistent with those of the company. Interviewers at Northwestern Mutual are often keen to communicate that a job there is a long-term commitment, possibly an indication of trouble retaining employees at the company. Accordingly, interviewers should stress an interest in advancing through the company. Of course, you should take trouble to avoid seeming predatory; you’re not gunning for anyone’s job. But you could say that you plan to show the kind of diligence that will enable you to assume more responsibility and advance to higher positions at Northwestern.

Why do you want to work at Northwestern Mutual?

If you have experience working for competition, this question presents you with an opportunity to express familiarity and admiration of Northwestern, with its venerable history and reputation for doing good by customers. You might choose to cite Northwestern mutual’s record of paying high dividends to customers. (You can lay it on thick, but be careful you don’t go overboard). At the same time, stress the kind of expertise that you could bring to Northwestern. If you are a particularly strong salesperson, for instance, refer to your history as a sign that you will be able to contribute to Northwestern’s growth. Northwestern needs strong salespeople on board if it is going to pay large dividends to its policyholders.

Name something that you are passionate about.

Besides asking explicitly professional questions, interviewers at Northwestern Mutual often ask personal questions concerning your life outside of work. Open-ended questions like “name a passion” give interviewers an opportunity to get a sense of who you are and how you might fit in with the workplace culture at Northwestern. While giving this information, you should also be sure to emphasize the aspects of your personality that would make you an asset to the company. Your “passion” and the way you approach it can demonstrate how committed you are to tackling the challenges you set before yourself. A passion for philanthropic fundraising, for example, shows the values you abide by and also demonstrates the kind of goal-setting and interpersonal skills that would make you an excellent financial representative.


Founded in 1857, Northwestern Mutual was initially founded as the Mutual Life Insurance Company for the United States state of Wisconsin. With an initially shaky start having unluckily had 2 of its policy holders die in a train derailment a short 2 years after the initial inception, the President Samuel Daggett personally borrowed so they could pay the claims immediately.

With this initial reaction to supporting the unfortunate, Northwestern Mutual grew quickly and by 1865 had dominated the Midwest market. In the early 20th century the main focus of the company was on life insurance policies, with a huge focus on accountability. By the late 20th century, Northwestern Mutual was providing disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, among other types of insurance.

Being a company that has consistently provided yearly dividends since 1872, Northwestern Mutual has been a company that truly respects its customers. With a more strict focus towards acquisitions for its strategic growth, Northwestern Mutual has stayed growing ever since its humble beginnings in the 1800's.