Longtime Northwestern Mutual CEO to retire

Longtime Northwestern Mutual CEO to retire

Longtime Northwestern Mutual CEO to retire | Insurance Business America

Life & Health

Longtime Northwestern Mutual CEO to retire

Executive to step down after 37 years with the company, including 14 as CEO

Life & Health

Ryan Smith

Northwestern Mutual’s chief executive is retiring after 37 years with the company, including 14 as CEO, the insurer has announced.

CEO John E. Schlifske (pictured above left) has announced plans to retire as of Dec. 31,2024, in accordance with Northwestern Mutual’s mandatory retirement age policy.

Tim Gerend (pictured above right) has been elected by Northwestern Mutual’s board of trustees to serve as the next CEO. Gerend, currently executive vice president and chief distribution officer at Northwestern Mutual, will assume the CEO role Jan. 1. He will also assume the position of president. Schlifske will remain chairman of the board of trustees through January 2025, at which time Gerend will also assume that role, the company said in a news release.

Schlifske’s tenure as CEO

During Schlifske’s tenure as CEO, Northwestern Mutual’s distribution system grew from around 6,000 to nearly 8,000 advisors. Currently, the company has more than five million clients across all product lines. Northwestern Mutual reported record revenue of nearly $35 billion in 2022 – an increase of nearly 50% from $23 billion in 2010, when Schlifske assumed the role. The company also declared a record-high dividend of $7.3 billion for 2024.

The company has also maintained its number-one ranking in individual life insurance sales, with life insurance coverage for its policyholders totaling $2.2 trillion. Northwestern Mutual’s wealth business also saw significant growth during Schlifske’s tenure, rising from $53 billion in total client assets in 2010 to $257 billion last year.

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“It’s been a pleasure to serve Northwestern Mutual for nearly four decades,” Schlifske said. “I have a deep sense of pride and gratitude for Northwestern Mutual, our dedicated employees and field force of advisors, and a noble mission that plays such a critical role in our clients’ financial wellbeing. And with our strategic vision, commitment to mutual values, leading financial strength, and unique culture, I’ve never had more confidence in the future of this company.”

Gerend to become new chief executive

Gerend joined Northwestern Mutual as an attorney in 2002. Since then, he has held a variety of leadership roles. He became executive vice president and chief distribution officer in 2018, and is currently responsible for career distribution, marketing and strategic communications.

“Tim brings a host of experiences from multiple areas of the company, and has played a significant role in the growth and evolution of our exclusive distribution – a key pillar of our company – which has grown to 8,000 financial advisors today,” Schlifske said. “As a strategic, principled, and mission-driven leader, Tim has the vision and experience to lead the company as we serve generations to come.”

“I am humbled and honored to accept the role of CEO,” Gerend said. “I’ve had a front-row seat to the efforts that have driven Northwestern Mutual to become an integrated financial security company providing insurance and wealth-management offerings to our clients. John’s leadership and guidance over the years has been invaluable to me and other company leaders. I’m confident that with our talented employees and financial advisors, we will continue the momentum that John has created during his tenure.”

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