Starting at Northwestern Mutual

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Feb 10, 2011 9:26 pm

Hey, I just interviewed at Northwestern Mutual and was wondering what some of you might think of whether or not it is a good place to start a career as a financial advisor.  Does anyone have experience working for them? If so, is there any base pay in the first year? Can you offer stocks to clients and get commission on them? How good is the training, product range? Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Feb 11, 2011 7:45 pm

It really depends on the agency. Some of the Chicago agencies are incredible. Others are mediocre, and others are a joke. Tough to evaluate, check out how many noobs there are and how they are doing. If there are a lot and seem to be optimistic, probably a good agency. 

NML usually offers a signing bonus of 4-8k. You are straight commission after that. Life insurance commission structure is great, but there are all sorts of stipulations. I.E. you sell your buddy a $100 a month term policy, you get 75% of the annual premium up front. He lapses in the first 13 months, you must pay it all back. You may have to pay back enhanced commissions if you leave early too (most do). Plus taxes blah blah balh 

In my opinion they are not a great company to start out with. Training is short, they give you some archaic scripts, and tell you to call your 200 names of friends and family and get referrals from them. You run out pretty fast. I'd learn how to cold call and get a base pay if I started out again. They are prob the best life insurance company in the marketplace (New York Life is a close second, arguably tied now). While competitive, don't let them con you into thinking they are the best at everything else, especially investments.  

Primary source of business is referrals. Usually no emphasis on cold calling. I just read a Bill Good article about how asking for referrals doesn't work too well in today's marketplace. I would fully agree. My friends scoffed at the idea of giving me referrals. Plus I was young and they told me to push whole life on everyone. Stupidly I did. Don't let them trick into thinking it's the one solution to everything (they will pretty much tell you this)

Good company if you wanna sell life insurance. Not great for starting out IMO and there is virtually no emphasis on the investment side until you are 2-5 years in the business. 

You can basically sell any product you want. But you are contracted to push NML first... whatever that means. And you have NML quotas you have to meet depending on your region. 

Feb 13, 2011 2:47 pm

Northwestern is an outstanding life insurance company. Maybe the best from a client's perspective. That being said, if you want to focus on the investment side immediately it is the wrong place to be in the beginning of your career. You will find tremendous pressure to sell three things: insurance, insurance, insurance. Anyone who tells you different is selling to you. If you want to have slightly more focus on investments early on try MassMutual. But, that is still going to be about insurance, insurance, insurance...not saying it is bad, it's just reality.

You will not receive any real salary while you are ramping up your practice at NML but if you figure out how to sell quickly enough you could possibly make more money focusing on insurance in your first year than you would on a salary elsewhere. But, the first 4-6 months would probably incredibly lean.

Some of the most highly compensated people in financial services have sophisticated practices that they homeport at an insurance company. Don't let people tell you that the cream of the crop people at insurance companies don't make tons of money. They do, and nearly 100% of it is annuitized.

Once you get established, investments can be a growing part of your practice.

IMO the best way to make your decision is:

- Do I absolutely NEED a salary to get myself started...If I do then you need to find an investment house that will pay you a salary.

- The training program is ALL about the local office. No matter the answer to the first question you need to find a local office that has an ACTIVELY successful noobie program. Don't fall for the "...we are building a first-class local training program..." that is shorthand for "...we suck at providing leadership and skills to assist noobies..."

Let us know what you do.

Feb 13, 2011 4:04 pm

starting if your young and in experienced should be under another FA or at a bank or credit union.