Financial services: a rich mix of tradition and innovation

    Wisconsin has long been a financial and insurance services hub for its own residents and for the nation. The state is home to hundreds of companies dedicated to serving individuals and businesses via banks, investment managers, property and casualty insurance companies, life insurance companies and securities brokerages.

    According to the Wisconsin Industry Report on quarterly workforce indicators produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 127,000 Wisconsinites worked in the insurance and finance industries in the first quarter of 2012.
    The state is home to 269 different banks and savings institutions, including Green Bay-based Associated Bank that, with BMO’s acquisition of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Isley Corporation in 2010, now holds the title of Wisconsin’s largest banking institution. According to the bank’s 2011 annual report, the bank has over 5,000 employees and more than $22 billion in assets. Associated Bank conducts commercial and personal banking in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

    Insurance drives Wisconsin’s finance industry
    American Family Mutual Insurance Company was founded in 1927 in Madison as Farmers Mutual Insurance. In 2011, the company had assets of $17.3 billion, equity of $5.7 billion and revenue of $6.2 billion. It has operations in 19 states and employs nearly 8,000 individuals, most in Wisconsin.

    According to the March 2012 Insurance Information Institute report, A Firm Foundation: How Insurance Supports the Wisconsin Economy, the insurance industry contributed nearly $13.9 billion to the Wisconsin gross state product in 2009 and accounted for more than $5 billion in compensation expenses.

    Wisconsin is also home to companies like West Bend Mutual Insurance Company which, according to its 2011 annual report, posted record numbers and had nearly $1.7 million in assets.

    Sheboygan-based ACUITY insurance, established in 1925, is one of the largest insurers in the nation. The company has more than $2 billion in assets and does business in more than 20 states.  SECURA Insurance serves 12 states in the Midwest from its headquarters in Appleton, and Sentry Insurance of Stevens Point, founded in 1904, reported assets of more than $11 billion in its 2011 annual report.

    Wisconsin’s largest provider is Northwestern Mutual. The company has been in business for 155 years.

    Headquartered in Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual is deepening its roots with plans for a new downtown Milwaukee office tower that is expected to preserve 1,100 current jobs in the city while creating capacity for as many as 1,700 new positions by 2025.

    Additionally, the project is expected to be a catalyst for economic development in Milwaukee, city officials said.
    “We hope they see our commitment as a reason (for others) to expand in the area,” said Skip Poliner, president and chief risk officer at Northwestern Mutual.

    Northwestern Mutual plans to add 5,500 financial professionals in 2013. This comes on the heels of the company surpassing its 2012 goal of recruiting 5,000 financial professionals.

    The company’s 2012 performance included a record dividend payout to policy owners that is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2013. In addition, the company’s insurance and annuity lines set new sales records, with annual insurance premium sales greater than $1 billion for the first time in the company’s history.

    Strong performance in asset management
    Southeastern Wisconsin has a particularly rich history in money management. Global firm Artisan Partners LLC filed for an IPO in 2012, and in December reported assets totaling close to $75 billion. Fiduciary Management, LLC and Robert W. Baird & Company have company headquarters in Milwaukee.

    Baird is an employee-owned wealth management, capital markets, asset management and private equity firm with nearly $97 billion in client assets.

    Established in 1919, Baird has more than 2,700 employees serving individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients.

    Wisconsin’s money management history is not limited to Southeastern Wisconsin. The Fox Valley is a major player in the industry as the headquarters for Fortune 500-company Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. According to the company’s 2011 annual report, the company employs more than 2,500 financial representatives in more than 1,300 chapters nationwide and manages nearly $70 billion in assets. In 2011, the company reported $7.8 billion in revenue.

    Innovative Financial management
    Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc. continues to grow as a world-renowned innovator and provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry. Founded in 1984, Fiserv has 158 offices worldwide and approximately 20,000 employees.

    The company recently reported 2012 fourth quarter net income of $179 million, or $1.32 per share, up from $143.0 million, or $1.01 per share, in the same period a year ago.

    For the full year, Fiserv’s total revenue grew to $ 3.7 billion from $3.5 billion a year earlier.  The company also recently acquired Open Solutions Inc., a provider of collaborative, enterprise account processing technology for financial institutions.

    “Our 2012 results were highlighted by our 27th consecutive year of double-digit adjusted earnings per share growth and meaningful strategic progress,” said Jeffery Yabuki, president and CEO of Fiserv. “We capped off a strong sales year with exceptional performance in the fourth quarter.”

    Fiserv expects total adjusted revenue growth for 2013 to be in excess of 10 percent and adjusted internal revenue growth to be in a range of 3 to 4 percent. The company also expects adjusted earnings per share to be in a range of $5.88 to $6.07, which represents growth of 15 to 18 percent over 2012.

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