After 14-years as CEO and 37 years with the company, John Schlifske plans to retire from Northwestern Mutual at the end of 2024.
The company made the announcement Thursday and said Tim Gerend, plans to serve as the next CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2025. Schlifske plans to remain chairman of the board of trustees through January 2025.
“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,” Schlifske said in a statement.
“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.”
Under Schlifske’s leadership the company grew from about 6,000 advisers to nearly 8,000 and Northwestern Mutual’s revenue grew from $23 billion in 2010 to nearly $35 billion in 2022. Last year’s revenue numbers have not been reported yet.
Last year the company announced it was paying a record $7.3 billion dividend to its policy holders in 2024 and pursuing a $500 million downtown campus project.
Also, during Schlifske’s time as the top executive, Northwestern Mutual changed Milwaukee’s skyline in 2017 when it opened a new 32 story Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons in the city’s downtown area.
Northwestern Mutual is one of the biggest employers in Wisconsin, and the life insurance protection for its policy owners totals roughly $2.2 trillion.
Next CEO of Northwestern Mutual
Northwestern Mutual’s board already elected Gerend as the next CEO and said its selection was the result of the succession planning process to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
“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,” Russell Hardin, lead independent Trustee for Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement. “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.”
Gerend will transition from executive vice president and chief distribution officer to the top executive position in 2025.
“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,” Gerend said in a statement. “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.”
Gerend serves on the board of The American College of Financial Services and Milwaukee College Prep. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Butler University and a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.
“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,” Schlifske said. “As a strategic, principled, and mission-driven leader, Tim has the vision and experience to lead the company as we serve generations to come.”