Todd M. Schoon, Northwestern Mutual

Todd M. Schoon

Leaders in Insurance

Editors’ Note

Todd Schoon, CLU, ChFC, J.D., began his Northwestern Mutual career in 1988 and went on to build a successful network office in New York. He has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility including Assistant Regional Director of Agencies, Managing Partner, and Vice President-Agencies. Schoon graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Finance and a J.D. in Law.

Company Brief

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with $1.2 trillion of life insurance protection in force, the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (www.northwesternmutual.com) has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 155 years. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer financial security solutions including life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company; Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments.

How does the field distribution system help differentiate Northwestern Mutual?

We have an exclusive distribution system, which means only Northwestern Mutual financial representatives can sell our products – we don’t broker our business. We have over 350 offices nationwide led by 79 managing partners.

We support our reps at the highest level and create an incredible, interdependent relationship with them. They’re essentially business owners that we support throughout their careers with ongoing training and practice management programs. We start with good people who are highly trained who, in turn, attract a highly qualified client creating a circle of success. These financial reps develop deep relationships with their clients based on thorough fact-finding so they’re not just executing a transaction; they’re uncovering needs through a robust planning analysis. The clients fully understand what they’re buying and why they’re buying it. In turn, they tend to keep their policies. We quantify this by persistency – how long a client keeps his policy – and we have a persistency rate of about 96 percent.

The way we treat existing policyowners also provides a competitive advantage for us. When most companies in the industry introduce a new product, they tend to offer it only to future clients. It takes a lot of effort to apply new benefits retroactively to all of the policyowners, but we do that and it’s a competitive advantage for us.

The oldest policy we have on the books today dates back to January of 1926. It was issued to a 15-year-old man who is now 102 years old. Over the course of those 87 years, we have enhanced his policy over and over and, today, his policy is worth 10 times its original value. That is why people love Northwestern. Our average client relationship is over 40 years.

What makes a good representative and has the skill set changed as the business has evolved?

Twenty years ago, a good salesperson would have made a successful representative. Today, the model is more complex. We integrate both insurance and investments in comprehensive plans that take care of our clients’ financial security needs.

Financial professionals need to be sophisticated and highly capable leaders who understand the complexities of today’s business model. That’s why we encourage continuing education and credentialing through The American College – which is the primary education resource in financial services.

What kind of investment do you make in training?

Ninety-six percent of our recruits are new to the industry. We like it that way because we don’t want people who already have bad habits. We provide excellent training, delivered by the home office as well as locally in the field, throughout an individual’s career.

We also have a unique culture of giving back. We have many veteran representatives who mentor newer representatives just coming into the business.•