Northwestern Mutual Interview Process

or Register to post new content in the forum

20 RepliesJump to last post

 

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Apr 7, 2011 2:35 pm

I am a career changer, and thought it might be helpful to share my experience with others.  I have interviewed with several financial services companies, and while they share several similarities, I found NMFN's process to be far superior. I completed an online application process using a link on the local office's website. The online process included extensive questions, a personality test, a skills test, and uploading my resume. I was contacted by a recruiter within 1 business day, and scheduled a face-to-face interview.

First Interview: I spent nearly an hour with the recruiter sharing about myself, and learning about the company. The recruiter was great at asking questions, and I felt like I was given the opportunity to talk about my experiences, personality, and career goals. It was very conversational, and enjoyable. At the end of the first interview I spent 20 minutes or so with the Director of (organizational) Development. This was great as well.

Second Interview: This interview was a one-on-one with the Director of Development. It lasted over an hour, and we reviewed the details of the position, job expectations, compensation structure, operating philosophies, etc. There was also much getting-to-know-each-other chatting, and I felt we were both assessing if this would be a good fit. I left the meeting with a stack of material and a training book.

Basics Day: In between my 2nd and 3rd Interviews, I was invited to spend the day at the office participating in a 'Basics Day' training session. I participated in a set of weekly meetings, and the introductory day for the latest 'class' of new hires. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the ethos of the office, and catch a glimpse of the overall process.

Third Interview: This interview was with the Director of Development, one of the Representatives that serves as a mentor to new hires, my husband and myself. It lasted over an hour. It was a very frank discussion of questions and concerns on both sides. At the end of that interview, we set a schedule for me to work through a set of Market Surveys, the purpose of which is for me to get a feel for the work, and to give NMFN a chance to see how I'd do in the field. They accomodated my schedule, and provided materials to prepare me for, and conduct the surveys.

Fourth Interview: Again, I met with the Director of Development, and the Rep who had been present in the 3rd Interview. We spent about an hour discussing how the process went and my observations. I asked some pointed questions that had come up for me, and we talked through several issues. At the end of that meeting, they offered me to the chance to join the team.

Next Steps: Before I can officially join the team, I will complete a long series of background checks, a test on Northwestern's basic products / processes, and a Long Term Care test. Once I'm through that process, I will be under a part-time contract. I will then need to pass my state exams, build a 200+ prospective client list, and read a book (they provided) on the Granum system -- before starting the training class. I've also chosen to complete a few of the required Series exams, which they'll sponsor me for.

 In my case, there was no negotiation. This is a commission only position. My office will completely cover my office-based overhead, including providing a computer, cubicle, cards, forms, processing support, etc. As a statutory employee, I'll also receive a full benefits package, and Errors and Ommissions coverage.
Apr 14, 2011 5:04 pm

I worked at NMFN for 5 years.  Happy to share any info offline from my experience if you think it would be helpful.  I could write a lot about it, but don't really have the time right at the moment.  Good luck with the opportunity!  Let me know if I can help.

Apr 25, 2011 1:54 am

I hear they're a great company with great products.  I've also heard of several people going completely broke due to unexpected commission chargebacks.  These were young guys in the biz.  ...I guess they weren't great at managing their own personal finances.  Commission only is a tough gig, but if you produce, you can make a shit ton of money.

Apr 25, 2011 5:38 pm

I have posted this before about MassMutual, same goes for NMFN (I did an internship there) Most life insurance companies are the same.  They are designed to bring in AS MANY NEW "financial professionals" as possible.  Failure rate at NMFN (as with all commission-only LI agents) has to be damn near 95%.  Now do you understand why they want soooo many new "professionals?"

Story Re-run -> They pay jack for your setup and licensing -> you hit up your friends and family -> sell 15-30 new life insurance policies (preferably whole life - much better payout) -> you starve because eventually you run out of friends and family doing you favors and buying LI from you -> that nice gentleman you met during the interview process that was so "kind and friendly" and cared so much about your personal life history now has 30 new clients that you "bird-dogged" for him and all they had to do was spot you a couple grand for licensing fees and a computer to use.

I know that was brash, but its the straight up truth.

Apr 25, 2011 6:28 pm

Hi Stockguy2011,

Thanks for your reply.  Your comments are certainly similar to other feedback i've heard.  And I think there is some truth in it.  Of course, your account doesn't tell the full story.  I've met quite a few people at the office, of varying tenures, who are quite successful.  It seems like the NMFN approach works for some, but not for others.  And that's true across the industry.  The 'churn' method you describe is an awfully expensive business model to maintain -- I can't imagine it leading anyone to lasting success. 

I'm fully liscensed, and credentialled.  And while I'm new to the field, I'm not new to business.  I plan on developing a full-spectrum practice, and I believe I can do that at Northwestern.  Will I sell LI?  You betcha.  It is a cornerstone for a strong financial plan, and a great tool for estate planning.  I'll also sell a whole lot of other stuff.  The advantage of being at Northwestern is that I get to sell one of the strongest rated, most stable LI products available today. 

Apr 25, 2011 6:46 pm

Hi RickRoss -

Thanks for your post - and for the warning about charge-backs.  It is definitely something to watch out for.  The commission is based off an annualzied premium -- so if your client cancels their policy, the company takes back the pro-rated commission.  It hurts to get slapped with that, but it is a fair way to do it.  And it is a pretty good incentive to match the right product to the right client, and then work to maintain and nurture the relationship.  If you talk someone into something they're not going to keep, you can do yourself a lot of damage.

The top folks at the office are bringing in an unbelievable amount of commissions.  I haven't started yet, but I've been attendng their weekly staff meetings.  Each week, they pass out a very detailed, 25+ page report with everyone's production stats.  Honestly, if I'd just heard 'water cooler' bragging, I wouldn't have believed it.  But week after week, I track these stats and they are extra-ordinary.  If the report was just something handed me in an interview, I'd think it was propoganda.  But I get it handed to me, along with everyone else at the meeting, week after week.  It would be impossible for these folks to make this sort of money "just" selling LI.  The breakdown includes a very profitable investments lineup.  It is clear they have fully developed practices, and a great set of clients.

Apr 26, 2011 6:00 am

[quote=stlgal]

Hi RickRoss -

Thanks for your post - and for the warning about charge-backs.  It is definitely something to watch out for.  The commission is based off an annualzied premium -- so if your client cancels their policy, the company takes back the pro-rated commission.  It hurts to get slapped with that, but it is a fair way to do it.  And it is a pretty good incentive to match the right product to the right client, and then work to maintain and nurture the relationship.  If you talk someone into something they're not going to keep, you can do yourself a lot of damage.

The top folks at the office are bringing in an unbelievable amount of commissions.  I haven't started yet, but I've been attendng their weekly staff meetings.  Each week, they pass out a very detailed, 25+ page report with everyone's production stats.  Honestly, if I'd just heard 'water cooler' bragging, I wouldn't have believed it.  But week after week, I track these stats and they are extra-ordinary.  If the report was just something handed me in an interview, I'd think it was propoganda.  But I get it handed to me, along with everyone else at the meeting, week after week.  It would be impossible for these folks to make this sort of money "just" selling LI.  The breakdown includes a very profitable investments lineup.  It is clear they have fully developed practices, and a great set of clients.

[/quote]

Sounds like you're already drinking the Kool-Aid before you even started working there, lol.  Insurance products, yes, best in the business.  Investments?  I doubt the knowledge is all that impressive.  Most NMFN guys don't know shit about investments, IMO.

Anyway, just out of curiosity, what is "an extra-ordinary amount of commissions?"  Also, have you followed these top producers around to see what their day looks like?  Have you asked them what it used to look like and what's changed over the years?  It takes a lot to build up such a "great clientele." 

But what do I know, I'm just another rookie.

Apr 26, 2011 9:10 am

Very true, you do not walk in the door writing 100k annual premium contracts.  More than likely, unless you have a "extra-ordinary" prospect sheet, you will be trying to make ends meet selling overpriced term plans getting less than street commissions.  If you already have experience in the field why not just take a brokerage contract with them and avoid all the cost to work at this office?  It is the exact same payout.

As for investments, RickRoss is correct, I would love to hear the "advisors" outlook on the markets other than the crap wholesalers tell them.  Great compensation if you get high up the grid but taking 40bps of 5% doesn't make sense when you can make 1-2% every year and do the best thing for your clients.  What flavor of kool-aid do they serve at these staff meetings?  Probably grape, it is the best.

Apr 26, 2011 9:30 am

[quote=njh_at_lfg]

Very true, you do not walk in the door writing 100k annual premium contracts.  More than likely, unless you have a "extra-ordinary" prospect sheet, you will be trying to make ends meet selling overpriced term plans getting less than street commissions.  If you already have experience in the field why not just take a brokerage contract with them and avoid all the cost to work at this office?  It is the exact same payout.

As for investments, RickRoss is correct, I would love to hear the "advisors" outlook on the markets other than the crap wholesalers tell them.  Great compensation if you get high up the grid but taking 40bps of 5% doesn't make sense when you can make 1-2% every year and do the best thing for your clients.  What flavor of kool-aid do they serve at these staff meetings?  Probably grape, it is the best.

[/quote]

All true.  Do not go to NMFN and try to sell investments - Every brokerage house in America will shred anything you can offer... and yes, even the "investment specialist" in the office has "ZERO" investment extpertise - he knows the American Funds story and the Russell story... and what tall tales they are.  Anyone with "investment expertise" is not at NMFN - I will guarantee that...

... and for your own dignity - do not oversell whole life insurance.  There are two reasons and really only two reasons to sell permanent life insurance, as indicated by the CFP study material. 

1) For people who cannot save on their own and need "forced savings" (this doesn't make any sense to me, because you can do the same thing with a mutual fund account).

2) For estate planning purposes (and usually only if you are subject to the Federal Estate Tax) $5-$10 million estates.

And... yes the "be your own banker" BS is a sham.  Where else can you get a 5% policy loan and pay interest to yourself?  How about your own savings account?.. and you only pay 0% interest.. and you don't have to pay a LI salesman heavy fees for the first 8 years of the policy! Genius!

I am ranting now. My apologies.

Apr 26, 2011 11:23 am

investment specialist @ any insurance firm= internal wholesaler who pimps funds with largest kickbacks to the firm.  Ask that person about their background and how much money they actually manage or used to manage (buying mf and etfs is not managing money, its allocating)

Apr 26, 2011 12:26 pm

And yet, they are doing pretty gosh darn well:

http://www.financial-planning.com/bd_scorecard/index.html?djoPage=summary&djoPid=5010

Apr 26, 2011 12:38 pm

[quote=stlgal]

And yet, they are doing pretty gosh darn well:

http://www.financial-planning.com/bd_scorecard/index.html?djoPage=summary&djoPid=5010

[/quote]

Don't get defensive, we aren't saying this to be di%&$.  Just don't show your clients that list - They will wonder Why they shouldn't do business with 1-7 first.  Oh and only 2 of those will be your competition.  That doesn't include Merrill, SB, JPM, WFA, EJ, etc etc. Those will be your B/D competitors...

In actuality that list really means nothing anyway, whether 1 or 8.  You are the person they do business with.  If you want to be known for LI stay at NMFN - you definitely have a journey, and a lot of Ramen noodles ahead. If you want to do investments, work for a wire or indy that will pay you while you get your feet on the ground - Atleast then you can upgrade to Kraft Mac'n Cheese :)

Apr 26, 2011 2:52 pm

I would like to see a breakdown of AUM per rep.  Do you have that data?

Apr 27, 2011 1:15 am

Thanks iceco, my point exactly.  Warm body and a pulse. 

Hey want to come work for me?  I am not going to pay you anything, in fact I will make you attend pointless meetings and charge you for working out of a cube that will give you depression.  If you make money then I will make more money and if you do not make money I will still make money off of you for sitting in a desk that would otherwise be empty. 

That is the subliminal message they send in interviews.

Apr 27, 2011 10:07 am

Sad, but true.  I have a friend that worked there and AFTER YEAR 2 (yes, he should have quit a long time ago), he only made $35.  Then, he got a sizeable chargeback bringing him below the $30K mark.  Needless to say, he left.

We've already made $30K each this year.  Probably nothing to brag about, but it sure is a major upgrade.  The goal now, over time, is to make $30K a month.  That's probably worth bragging about. 

Apr 27, 2011 10:10 am

I meant to write $35K, but it may as well have been $35 after all expenses. 

Apr 30, 2011 12:20 am

[quote=Stockguy2011]

[quote=njh_at_lfg]

Very true, you do not walk in the door writing 100k annual premium contracts.  More than likely, unless you have a "extra-ordinary" prospect sheet, you will be trying to make ends meet selling overpriced term plans getting less than street commissions.  If you already have experience in the field why not just take a brokerage contract with them and avoid all the cost to work at this office?  It is the exact same payout.

As for investments, RickRoss is correct, I would love to hear the "advisors" outlook on the markets other than the crap wholesalers tell them.  Great compensation if you get high up the grid but taking 40bps of 5% doesn't make sense when you can make 1-2% every year and do the best thing for your clients.  What flavor of kool-aid do they serve at these staff meetings?  Probably grape, it is the best.

[/quote]

All true.  Do not go to NMFN and try to sell investments - Every brokerage house in America will shred anything you can offer... and yes, even the "investment specialist" in the office has "ZERO" investment extpertise - he knows the American Funds story and the Russell story... and what tall tales they are.  Anyone with "investment expertise" is not at NMFN - I will guarantee that...

... and for your own dignity - do not oversell whole life insurance.  There are two reasons and really only two reasons to sell permanent life insurance, as indicated by the CFP study material. 

1) For people who cannot save on their own and need "forced savings" (this doesn't make any sense to me, because you can do the same thing with a mutual fund account).

2) For estate planning purposes (and usually only if you are subject to the Federal Estate Tax) $5-$10 million estates.

And... yes the "be your own banker" BS is a sham.  Where else can you get a 5% policy loan and pay interest to yourself?  How about your own savings account?.. and you only pay 0% interest.. and you don't have to pay a LI salesman heavy fees for the first 8 years of the policy! Genius!

I am ranting now. My apologies.

[/quote]

You clearly have no clue on the uses of life insurance.  Stop talking about things which you know nothing about. 

To the OP, I started out at Northwestern and am now at a large wirehouse.  Northwestern has the best sales training program and they have the best life insurance and long term care products, hands down.  Northwestern has some of the greatest actuaries designing and pricing the products. They will teach you great sales skills (varies branch to branch). Keep in mind though their investment in you is minimal. They have nothing to lose in bringing you in.  That being said, the managers don't make money unless you stay and make money.  

If you looked at it from a pessimistic viewpoint, you could say that it's their intention to bring you in, have you fail, and they take your book, but that's just what happens at all firms in this industry.  It's not their intention.  

Cold calls are not effective for insurance sales. Referred lead prospecting is. But to get referrals requires a very strong network, or a naturally charismatic personality that would charm the pants off of anyone.  It is a very tough business to be in.  You will more than likely fail in their business model. If you can, become a mentor, and you will take over the books of those left behind.  It pays to stay.

As to how good NWM is with investments, all the rumors are true. They suck.  Obviously, this varies FA to FA, but there's a reason why almost all reps there only have their series 6 license.  American Fund A-shares to those with less than 100k, managed platform with russell funds for those accounts with greater assets.  Risk profile dictates pre-picked asset allocation.

Come in with a few objectives in mind:

1) Learn how to sell and prospect

2) Learn all the tax benefits of life insurance

3) Learn estate planning

4) Learn what comprehensive financial planning really means (you can learn investments later)

Apr 30, 2011 6:19 pm

[/quote]

 You clearly have no clue on the uses of life insurance.  Stop talking about things which you know nothing about. 

[/quote]

I didn't mention anything about their sales training.  I am sure its fine.

Dont give me that bull$hit about life insurance being a great college education tool, investment tool, etc.  That is a crock that NMFN and the other LI teach their agents.

According to CFP education materials, whole life insurance (because that was the topic of my last post) is CORRECTLY used for certain estate planning cases, and as a forced savings tool (don't agree with).  Please don't proclaim yourself a "planner" unless you are in fact a Certified Financial Planner.  Every life insurance agent in the country calls themself a "planner."

May 3, 2011 10:17 am

[quote=iceco1d]

While I agree with Stockguy on the uses of life insurance (including the crock that it is a good "forced savings plan" tool), I wholeheartedly disagree that you cannot call yourself a planner without being a CFP. 

The CFP designation is given by a private organization.  It's not state or federally mandated.  There is a LOT of marketing BS associated with the CFP.  So you need to be a CFP...to call yourself a CFP.  But not a planner, or even a financial planner.

[/quote]

Point taken. 

My point is that the term "financial planner" is overused by FAR too many life insurance agents who use the term as a guise to get a glimpse of your financial picture, only to find a way to squeeze various forms of life insurance to satisfy each goal (retirement, college savings, estate planning, tax planning etc.) There are very few life insurance agents acting as "financial planners" that do what is fundamentally correct for clients - which means using life insurance ONLY when/where appropriate.

Aug 22, 2011 1:53 pm

There was a job opening posted on CareerBuilder for a Financial Rep. in Boston for the Boston Financial Group, and I sent my application in through there.  I got a call from NMFN soon afterwards to schedule an interview. I went in for an interview last week and learned a great deal about the company, and I believe I can say the same for them about me. The man said that he will send me a second link to an assessment that I need to complete. I completed that within two days of the interview. It has been a week and I have not heard back from NMFN. Would anyone happen to know if this is normal? How does advancement in the interview process work? Or did the assessment knock me out of the running for a Fin. Rep. position?