Northwestern Mutual revenue up 9% to $34 billion in 2021

Downtown Milwaukee, with Milwaukee Art Museum in foreground and US Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual tower in background
Downtown Milwaukee, with Milwaukee Art Museum in foreground and U.S. Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual tower in the background.

Last updated on May 11th, 2022 at 09:47 pm

Northwestern Mutual saw its total revenue grow more than 9% to $34 billion in 2021, an increase the company attributed to record sales of life insurance and strong sales of annuities.

The Milwaukee-based company collected $22.77 billion in premiums during the past year, a 17.8% increase from 2020. The company’s investment income was down 5.7% to $10.45 billion.

“It’s an honor that we continue to see a record number of customers choosing Northwestern Mutual and our advisors for our holistic approach to financial security,” said John Schlifske, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “These business results prove that having a combination of world-class insurance products and investment offerings is resonating – and I’ve never had more confidence in the future of our company.”

Beyond the topline figures, Northwestern Mutual also saw a 2.4% increase in benefits paid to $12.02 billion. Commissions and other expenses were up 15.6% to $4.05 billion.

The financial performance allowed the company to pay policyholders a dividend of $6.52 billion, up 4.6% from $6.24 billion in 2020. The increase was larger than the 3.9% increase in 2020, but smaller than the 5.5% and 6.5% increases in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Since decreasing its dividend in 2016, Northwestern Mutual has averaged a 4.6% annual increase in dividends over the past five years.

The company’s bottom line results also showed strong improvement after declining in 2020.

Gains from operations increased 28% to $675 million and overall net income was up 130% to $978 million. The massive improvement was the result in a shift in net realized capital gains where the company made $303 million in 2021 compared to a $102 million in losses in 2020.

While Northwestern Mutual’s revenue and dividend figures were records for the company, its net income fell short of the nearly $1.27 billion total from 2019 and $1.02 billion in 2017.

As for its investments, the company’s total climbed to $284.5 billion as of Dec. 31, an increase of 8.7% from 2020. The majority of that total is in bonds at $179 million, up 7.7% from the prior year. Mortgage loans and other investments, the next two largest categories, saw stronger growth, up 15.1% and 17% respectively. The company had $47.8 billion in mortgage loans and $29.2 billion in other investments as of Dec. 31.

Northwestern Mutual’s holdings in cash and other short-term investments from 16.9% over the year from $3.24 billion to almost $3.79 billion. The company’s holdings in policy loans dipped 2.7% to $17.2 billion and holdings in common and preferred stocks were down 16.6% to $4.2 billion

The company’s real estate holdings grew 5.2% to $3.11 billion.

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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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