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On Being an Underwriter: A Q&A with Lisa Brown

NM Q&A Underwriter (2)

Underwriting is the heart of everything we do at Northwestern Mutual. But what’s it like to work as an underwriter? We sat down with Lisa Brown to talk about this unique and rewarding career. Check out our interview below as Lisa sheds light on the exciting opportunities and career growth prospects available when you start your career as an underwriter. 


How did you decide to pursue a career in underwriting at Northwestern Mutual? 


In 2011, I had finished my undergrad, but like many new grads, I didn't know what I wanted to do. At the time, my dad recommended looking at Fortune 100 companies, including Northwestern Mutual. I applied and was hired in the call center. 

I took that entry-level job not knowing where it would go, not even really knowing what life insurance was, but I knew this was a big, well-known company and it would be a great place to start my career. Eventually, as my knowledge and skillset grew, I applied for and was hired as an underwriter. I’ve been able to find my niche in underwriting and am so grateful that I changed careers – and that Northwestern Mutual supported me along the way.


What’s it like to be an underwriter at Northwestern Mutual? 


It's a lot of fun! There is so much to learn and know. When making assessments, we look at a person’s medical history and financial assets and then use that to gauge insurability. It’s a balance of getting the most coverage at the lowest cost for our prospective client, but also making the right choice for our underwriting standards and quality to protect the company and current clients. 

What do you personally like about underwriting? 


This job doesn’t just keep me busy, it’s also engaging. I could do this for another 10 years and still feel challenged. As an underwriter, you're always learning something new. You’ll feel like you've seen it all and then you get this never-seen-before medical history that comes up, or they start using new drugs to treat conditions in new ways. You're always piecing together different puzzle pieces to get an overall picture.  


Did you come into the role with medical and financial knowledge or were you trained? 


Most people come into underwriting with varying backgrounds and different levels of financial, tax and medical knowledge. But Northwestern Mutual has it’s own 12-month, comprehensive training model to prepare all underwriters. The learning process is very gradual and my training team was great, so I felt prepared when it was time for me to start underwriting my own cases.  


How does Northwestern Mutual prioritize underwriting? 


Northwestern Mutual began as a life insurance company. We’ve since evolved into other business areas, but underwriting has always been at the heart of everything we do. In my role as an underwriter, I make sure that we're protecting the company's mortality on the premium so we can give dividends back to the policy holders. I know the work is needed and the company does a good job of letting us know that our work is valued, that we are valued.  


How does Northwestern Mutual support your career? Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development? 


This career vertical is expansive, which means there are a lot of possibilities to grow and evolve your role. For those passionate about underwriting, you can continue taking on more and more complex cases. There are also opportunities to step out of the day-to-day underwriting role by assisting underwriters in a different capacity. Whether that be consulting on cases where you have special subject matter expertise, or joining our learning and development team where you can train new underwriters, there are many paths you can take. 

The company is also very invested in professional development. Northwestern Mutual supports you in getting your licensing, such LOMAs or ALUs. They even encourage educational opportunities to gain additional knowledge and get accreditations as well. 


Why is Northwestern Mutual the place you want to keep growing your career? 


I like Northwestern Mutual as a company, and they've been good to me. I also believe they have a good product. When comparing our product offerings to other insurance companies, we’ve always had the best. We're a team collectively working together to provide life-changing coverage for real people.  


For more information on underwriting career opportunities, visit our underwriting page.