A message from the CEO

John Schlifske

As CEO of your company, I spend a lot of time looking at numbers. I understand the importance of what our numbers tell the world. Our surplus, dividend payout and many more figures convey the story of a strong and growing company.

I also recognize that our numbers tell a story about the essence of our company, which is you – our policyowners. Your financial security, and your financial future, is what we’re all about.

That’s why a particular set of numbers have commanded our attention for some time. They come from our annual Planning and Progress Study of Americans’ attitudes towards money and financial decision making. Here’s part of what we found this past year.

  • 85 percent of Americans feel financial anxiety today, and the majority say it is getting worse.
  • About 25 percent of Americans think about their finances every single day.
  • Only 20 percent of Americans feel very confident that they will achieve their financial goals.

The numbers tell a clear story — people are worried about their financial future. And for many, it’s seriously impacting their happiness, health, family and career.

“Our goal is straightforward: to move people from financial anxiety to confidence as they save for the future, and arrive there with control over their choices. We call this financial security.”

What do we believe is the solution? Well, at our core, we believe that people should begin with a plan that protects what they have while also growing what they will need. Our goal is straightforward: to move people from financial anxiety to confidence as they save for the future, and arrive there with control over their choices. We call this financial security.

We also believe it starts by partnering with a deeply dedicated financial professional who understands you and your situation. It continues with providing you the best and broadest range of proven planning strategies and products, enhanced by the latest digital technology.

To do all this we must be financially strong. And that’s why it’s so meaningful to note that our 2016 financial results were excellent. We reached record totals for revenue and surplus. We also paid you, our policyowners, $5.2 billion in dividends, a higher total than our three closest mutual competitors combined.

In short, your company is well positioned to thrive in any foreseeable market or economic environment.

I hope you enjoy this 2016 Annual Report. Here, you'll meet clients like you, learn about the challenges they faced, and discover how planning with our financial representatives and advisors enabled them to live the lives they envisioned. You’ll also discover the values that drive our business, the facts behind our financial strength, and how to get the most out of your Northwestern Mutual relationship.

We have been and always will be the clients' company. You’re why we’re here. We thank you for your confidence in our company.

John's Signature
John E. Schlifske
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer


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Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries. Life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits are issued by The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM). Long-term care insurance is issued by Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI, (NLTC) a subsidiary of NM. Securities are offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, (NMIS) a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC. Fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services are offered through Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC), Milwaukee, WI, a subsidiary of NM and a federal savings bank. Products and services referenced are offered and sold only by appropriately appointed and licensed entities and financial professionals. Not all products and services are available in all states.