Annual Report 

2013 annual report; live more 

We’re helping people plan for their financial security so they can get more out of life. Learn how we’re helping people reach their goals in our Annual Report stories below. For a more interactive online experience, check out the tablet version of our report.

Policyowners: Please Vote

If you’re a policyowner, look for your proxy voting materials in your Annual Report package mailed in early April. As a policyowner, you play an important role in our corporate governance and keeping our company strong. One way you can do this is by voting in our Board of Trustees election. This year, the board has nominated five candidates for election to the board at the 2014 Annual Meeting. To vote for the candidates, please complete and return your proxy card. Your signed proxy must be received by May 23, 2014.

CEO Message 

Client Stories 

Financial Results 

Policyowners' Report 

Retirement Planning 


Powerful Approach

john e schlifskeAs I look back on 2013 – and forward to the future – I am most proud of our company’s positive impact on you and all policyowners. You’re telling us and our field force that we’re helping you get more out of life – whether that means more security for your families, more flexibility to pursue your passions, or more financial freedom to enjoy your retirement years. And we’re helping you reach those outcomes through a powerful approach.

Personalized Planning

First, we’re giving our financial representatives the training and tools to do meaningful financial planning with you. This is contrary to the more products-driven (versus needs-driven) approach that many other companies take. But we’ve never been a company to follow the pack. We’re more interested in building lifelong relationships with clients than making short-term sales. We want to get to know you and your financial goals. Only then can we create a personalized plan to address those goals and determine the best products to meet your needs.

Product Value

Second, we offer the best long-term product value in the industry (measured by Blease Research).1 As a longtime policyowner, I’ve seen the value of our products firsthand. I recently marked the 50th anniversary of my first Northwestern Mutual policy – a $25,000 permanent life policy that my dad took out on me when I was 3. That policy and the many others I’ve purchased from the company have put me on a path to financial security. Over the years, I’ve watched the total death benefit and cash value grow steadily and reliably. Other companies offer this type of protection, but we offer the best cash value return on permanent life insurance among major U.S. insurance companies.

Financial Strength

Third, even the best planning and products are futile without a strong company behind them. You can have the utmost confidence in the strength of Northwestern Mutual. Our 2013 financial results are evidence: $5.2 billion in policyowner dividends projected for 2014, including a total life insurance dividend expected to be more than triple that of our nearest competitor2; a record high total surplus of $20.6 billion; and the highest financial strength ratings awarded to any U.S. life insurer. Those are excellent results at a time of historically low interest rates. More important, we’re prudently managing our fundamentals to help ensure our continued success – no matter which direction the markets go.

All of us here wish you and your family a prosperous 2014. We look forward to helping you find more ways to live more.

john e. schlifske


John E. Schlifske
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

1Blease Research Full Disclosure 2013 Whole Life Edition
2Northwestern Mutual analysis of ordinary life insurance dividends based on historical SNL data.


Clients Share Their Story

Watch these brief videos in which clients share the outcomes of planning with their financial representative.

Learn more about their experience in the 2013 Annual Report.


hunter family - more time to heal

Watch video — More Time to Heal
Clients Mark and Robin Hunter
Financial Representative Jessica Schock

Parents find strength after tragedy as policy eases financial burdens, allows them to put family first.
ralph and lea basch - more freedom in retirement

Watch video — More Freedom in Retirement
Clients Ralph and Lea Basch
Wealth Management Advisor Dan Day

Sticking to a plan has helped this couple live their retirement dream.
tindall family - more security for little ones

Watch video — More Security for ‘Little Ones’
Robbie and Amanda Tindall
Financial Representative Rob King

For this growing family, each child brings a new beginning and a renewed look at their plan.
blanco palomo - more possibilities

Watch video — More Possibilities
Client Blanca Palomo
Financial Representative Andres Baltazar

Planning helps mother and daughter pursue their passions, ‘live less extravagantly but more richly’

2013 Results in Brief (in Millions)

2013 2012 Change
Policyowner dividends $5,212 $5,045 +3%
Policyowner benefits paid $7,949  $7,302 +9%
Individual life insurance in force $1,462,000 $1,385,000 +6%
Total revenue $25,909 $24,621 +5%
Total assets $217,106 $202,450 +7%
Surplus & asset valuation reserve $20,557  $19,392 +6%

(consolidated statutory basis)

See our complete 2013 Financial Results.

2013 Policyowners' Examining Committee Report

Since 1907, a group of three to five policyowners has been given unrestricted access to the company to independently evaluate its operations, management and strategic plans. Each year, the committee’s findings are published in the Annual Report. The 2013 committee’s complete report is printed here.

policyowners' examining committee2013 Examining Committee Members

John Schlifske (center), chairman, president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Mutual, meets with the 2013 Policyowners’ Examining Committee. Members include: (left to right) Nicholas Brathwaite, founding partner of Riverwood Capital, Menlo Park, Calif.; Bryan Timm, (chair) chief operating officer and executive vice president of Columbia Sportswear Co., Portland, Ore.; Barbara Daniel, senior vice president and treasurer of Sirius XM Radio Inc., New York; Esther Campi, chief executive officer of Campi & Co., Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Jose Motta, vice president of total rewards & shared services for Dean Foods Co., Dallas.

As members of this year’s Policyowners’ Examining Committee, we’ve had the opportunity to meet with Northwestern Mutual leaders and learn about the company’s performance, operations and strategic direction for the future. Through this experience, we were positively impressed by management’s transparency and openness in our interactions. As clients, each of us has trusted our own financial security to Northwestern Mutual. After this experience, we are confident that our trust in Northwestern Mutual is well placed.

A Strong Foundation

The company’s strong foundation is built on its exceptional financial strength, reflected in its record surplus level and expected dividend payout. In 2014, Northwestern Mutual expects to pay $5.2 billion in policyowner dividends, the largest payout in company history. Additionally, for the first time the company’s total surplus has exceeded $20 billion. This financial strength is a key differentiator for Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual’s foundation is also built on a suite of products and services, delivered through a comprehensive planning approach that offers excellent long-term value. The dedicated and highly trained financial representatives who deliver those products, services and planning tools are a clear competitive advantage. Company leadership is focused on strengthening this foundation by growing the number and productivity of financial representatives in order to help deliver financial security to more people.

We were also impressed by the company’s strong management team and the commitment of both the home office and the financial representatives to not just doing things right, but more important, “doing the right thing” for the clients who put their trust in Northwestern Mutual.

Evolving for the Future

Meeting the growing needs of its clients for over 156 years has been a hallmark of Northwestern Mutual’s strategy. To continue to address those needs, the company’s strategy and brand have evolved from that of predominantly a life insurance company to a comprehensive financial security business. With an eye toward the future, the company is evolving to meet the challenges of a highly competitive financial services marketplace, to address the preferences of the nation’s changing demographics, and to adapt to the rapid pace of technological change. Following are three areas that will position Northwestern Mutual for continued success: an enhanced and more consistent client experience, additional financial representative support, and a company culture that is increasingly accountable and diverse.

The Client Experience

Company leadership is focused on continually improving the client experience. We believe Northwestern Mutual should enable its field force to be brand ambassadors. This means helping financial representatives communicate a more consistent brand message of financial security and then delivering a consistent brand experience through integrated product solutions.

Northwestern Mutual is making much-needed investments in client-facing and field-facing technology. We emphasize the need to leverage technology to enhance the client experience. The company must improve the user interface between its clients and its technology to meet clients’ growing expectations. We encourage the company to continue to build technology tools that enable the field to provide seamless and consistent service to clients.

In keeping with Northwestern Mutual’s brand promise, we want to reinforce the importance of consistently delivering holistic, needs-based planning to more people. We encourage financial representatives to continue to collaborate with one another in order to allow their clients to experience the financial security that comes from a solid planning approach coupled with access to high quality products and services.

Financial Representative Support

We applaud the strong partnership between Northwestern Mutual’s home office and its field force. Through this partnership, the company seeks to fulfill its brand promise to deliver financial security to clients. We encourage the company to explore flexible ways to further support financial representatives throughout the different stages of their careers.

The company’s infrastructure, training programs and incentives should all be aligned with the financial security brand promise. For instance, consider more ways to encourage experienced representatives to do joint work with newer financial representatives so together they can offer the full suite of insurance and investment products and services. This will help ensure a more consistent delivery of financial planning to clients. The company should also look to newer financial representatives for insights on the expectations of younger clients.

Company Culture

Northwestern Mutual has built a strong culture by aiming to always do what’s right. We were pleased to see the management team also working very cohesively to foster a culture in which leaders deliver results, maximize employee engagement and envision the future. We were impressed with the depth of Northwestern Mutual’s steady commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is evident in its “tone at the top,” training and development programs, succession planning and promotional opportunities. We strongly support the company’s continued efforts to increase the gender and ethnic diversity of its field force and home office employees by measuring progress and infusing diversity and inclusion into the culture.

Call to Action

Some things will never change – Northwestern Mutual has always been there for its clients and will continue to be there for generations to come. Our future, however, certainly will look different from our past. Northwestern Mutual is preparing for the future by evolving from predominantly a life insurance company into a comprehensive financial security company. We all have a role to play in that evolution. The home office must support the field force in furthering the company’s ambition to deliver enhanced financial security opportunities to more people. The field force must embrace and respond to this evolution on the front lines. Lastly, all clients should take ownership of their financial future by contacting their financial representative to create and implement a comprehensive financial security plan.

Report submitted Nov. 18, 2013


More Retirement Solutionsretirement planning

No matter what your age, it’s never too early to plan for retirement. Northwestern Mutual’s approach to retirement planning helps you meet three important goals:

  • Provide retirement income that will last a lifetime.
  • Protect your savings from the financial risks in retirement, such as market volatility or a long-term care event that could wipe out your savings.
  • Leave a legacy to a loved one or charity through an inheritance.

retirement solutionsYour financial representative can help you meet these goals by working with you to build a comprehensive plan customized to your needs.

Create Predictable Income in Retirement
Lots can change during the average retirement, which now lasts nearly 30 years.1 But one thing that hasn’t changed is the desire to have predictable income to meet living expenses. Northwestern Mutual helps policyowners optimize their income while managing the risks they face in retirement through a variety of income strategies.

This could be a combination of investments and our annuity products, including our new patent-pending Select™ Portfolio Income Annuities. All of our annuities can provide guaranteed income2 for as long as the annuitant lives and some can be structured to leave funds to a surviving beneficiary. Learn more about these innovative retirement solutions, available only through Northwestern Mutual.

Test Your Retirement Readiness
How prepared are you for retirement? Take the 9-Hole Retirement Challenge and find out. Through a series of nine questions, this interactive tool will help you better understand the financial realities of retirement.

Whatever your retirement horizon, contact your financial representative to build a retirement plan that’s right for you.

1Source: Annuity 2000 table with mortality enhancements using projection scale G2 and assuming a retirement age of 65.
2All annuity guarantees are backed solely by the claims-paying ability of Northwestern Mutual.


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