From Philadelphia — 12/19/2009
After reading through the comments that have already been made, I am going to my very best to remain as unbiased and honest as possible.
I recently was hired in the Philadelphia office as a financial representative, but decided to leave after only one month. It is important to note that financial representative is NOT the same as financial advisor or financial planner. There are specific professional designations that it takes at least one year to acquire. Should you take a position with Northwestern Mutual, understand that for at least 6-12 months you are an insurance salesman/saleswoman, nothing more nothing less. With that said, on to the critique...
Pay, -5: This is a 100% commission compensated job. A previous comment said it was "eat what you kill", which really means that no matter how much work you do, you'll get nothing if you don't close the sale. The commission structure is generous, but for me the uncertainty of whether I'd be able to eat or pay the rent being based on my ability to sell insurance was an is extremely unsettling. There is a $4000 training stipend that is earned in stages as you meet contract obligations - passing the insurance sales exam, presenting a business plan, memorizing sales language, and having 25 appointments set for your first full week.
Respect, +5: The Philadelphia Office is staffed with courteous and respectful professionals. The managing partner takes that very seriously, and everyone working there is generous with their time and supportive. The trainers, field directors, mentors, and management are fantastic.
Benefits, -3: Less to do with NMFN itself then the whole idea of health insurance locked in to an employer and the general expense. It is a good healthcare plan in the Philadelphia office, but expensive like all other healthcare.
Job Security, 0: I suppose job security exists, so long as you are able to hustle. Most people elect to remove themselves due to the pay structure, ie not making any sales and therefore not getting paid. If you make a few sales quickly and get the ball rolling, there is great potential. I will say that it is emotional draining to have so many people tell you no so often.
Work/Life Balance, -5: These two parts of my life completely overlapped. I decided this job was not right for me when I started seeing everyone I knew or met with a dollar amount attached to them. In this job, prospecting (AKA, finding potential new clients) is the name of the game. I didn't like hitting up friends and family to sit down with me and discuss their financial situations, and everything came to a head when my girlfriend was telling me about her cousin who has an acquired mental disability due to a post-surgical infection, and I thought "Hmm, I wonder what kind of long-term care insurance the family has set up to provide for him if he outlives them." That was the exact moment when I stopped wanting to do this job.
Career Potential/Growth, 0: As with job security, if you don't mind 40-50 phone calls per day, keeping 3-5 meetings per day, and 90% "no", then you can do very well. If that doesn't sound apppealling, I'd suggest looking for other employment options.
Location, +5: The Philadelphia office is in a great location, just a block from the main regional rail station in center city. No complaints about the building or location.
Co-Worker Competence, +5: The ones who last obviously know what they are doing and perform well in the job. Everyone in the Philadelphia office, from the managing partner down, is fantastic. I really can't say enough good things about the people.
Work Environment, +5: Again, the people and office are really great. it is a professional and friendly environment.
So my grading is not so bad, and if you've read this far you might be wondering why I decided not to stay on with Northwestern. I have two basic reasons that are wholly personal:
1. Income Insecurity: It is terrifying to me that I didn't know what money was coming in from month to month. I got to thinking about the summer, and considered how difficult it would be to get in front of people when they were taking vacations, during holidays, when the kids are playing baseball, etc etc etc. I personally couldn't deal with not nowing what I was going to be paid.
2. Constantly Working: There is never a time when you are thinking about the people you know or meet that might make good clients. It is depressing to see everyone in terms of a monthly premium that you will earn commission on.
So that is my review of Northwestern Mutual. It is a good company, but with a first year employee turnover rate of 80%+, clearly this job is not for everyone. For me, it turns out it is not a good fit to work there, but I am going to continue to give my business to Northwestern, as their insurance products truly are the best in the business.