Northwestern Mutual reports record revenue amid low interest rates

Net income increases slightly to $818 million

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. reported record total revenue and an increase in net income in 2016.

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons office building in downtown Milwaukee is scheduled for completion in the fall.
The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons office building in downtown Milwaukee is scheduled for completion in the fall.

The company said it had $28.2 billion in revenue, a 1 percent increase over 2015. The topline result included $17.9 billion in premiums, $9.6 billion in net investment income and $636 million in other income, all increases over 2015.

“Our 2016 business results underscore that our long-term, ‘whole picture’ approach to financial security is working for clients,” said John E. Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual chairman and chief executive officer. “People are seeking guidance and simplicity. They increasingly value our distinctive combination of a deep, trusted relationship with our financial representatives and advisors, our superior products and solutions, and industry-leading financial strength.”

Net income increased by $3 million to $818 million. The company said it “delivered another year of strong performance in 2016, despite industry-wide pressure posed by an unprecedented low interest rate environment.”

The company cited low interest rates last year in saying it would lay off hundreds of employees in 2017.

Northwestern Mutual announced last year it would payout roughly $5.2 billion in dividends to policy owners, a 7.2 percent decrease from 2015.

The company reported $22.1 billion in benefits and expenses, a 2.9 percent increase from 2015. Policy owner benefits paid increased to $9.8 billion, benefit services decreased from $9.5 billion to $9.2 billion and commissions and expenses increased to $3.1 billion from $2.9 billion.

Northwestern Mutual said it would continue to make investments in its client experience, using digital tools to attract new generations of consumers.

“Our enhanced digital capabilities are enriching the experience of our clients as well as our financial representatives and advisors. It’s notable that all four ratings agencies in their most recent industry reports have cited digital strategies as a key differentiator in the industry in the near-term,” Schlifske said. “We view our digital experience as an opportunity for our financial professionals to supercharge their relationships with clients by giving them a full range of tools and resources to simplify their financial lives.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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