Schlifske has been CEO for the past 14 years and has worked with the company for 37 years. His retirement comes in connection with the company’s mandatory retirement age policy.
Tim Gerend, currently the company’s executive vice president and chief distribution officer, will take over for Schlifske as CEO in 2025. As part of the leadership changes, Gerend will take on the role of president of Northwestern Mutual.
“Through a comprehensive succession planning process over many years, the company took a rigorous approach to select the right leader for the company’s future,” said Russell Hardin, lead independent trustee for Northwestern Mutual. “This has resulted in the unanimous board selection of Gerend as the next CEO – a leader who has deep expertise in the company’s business and embodies the unique culture of Northwestern Mutual.”
Schlifske will stay on Northwestern Mutual’s board of trustees as chairman through January 2025, at which point Gerend will also assume that role.
Schlifske originally took over as CEO in 2010. During his tenure, the company grew from $23 billion in revenue to nearly $35 billion in 2022. NML declared a $7.3 billion dividend for 2024, its highest ever. Its wealth business has grown from $53 billion in client assets in 2010 to $257 million last year.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve Northwestern Mutual for nearly four decades. 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 for our clients’ financial well-being,” said Schlifske. “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 joined Northwestern Mutual in 2002 as an attorney. He has held leadership roles within the company in law, field compensation and planning, enterprise compliance, and campus planning. In 2018, Gerend was named executive vice president and chief distribution officer. His current responsibilities include career distribution, marketing and strategic communication.
“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,” said Schlifske. “As a strategic, principled, and mission-driven leader, Tim has the vision and experience to lead the company as we serve generations to come.”
Gerend serves as a trustee for the American College of Financial Services and is on the board of Milwaukee College Prep. He received a bachelor of science degree in economics from Butler University in 1993 and received his law degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1996.
“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.”