Northwestern Mutual IRA Review

2020 Northwestern Mutual Investment Services Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 401k Rollover, SEP individual retirement accounts review, rates, fees and commissions schedule.

About Northwestern Mutual

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) from Northwestern Mutual Investment Services (NMIS) can range from simple beginner investments to complex fund groupings designed to cover all investment climates.

Regardless of the experience level of the investor, NMIS, the brokerage, offers impressive strength ratings based on its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company received the highest ratings awarded from Moody’s Investors Service, A.M. Best Company, and Fitch Ratings, and the second highest rating possible from Standard & Poor’s.

Credit ratings cover the financial strength of a company. Moody’s ratings, for example, score the creditworthiness (quality of debt) of an entity. Moody’s Senior Credit Officer Neil Strauss referenced Northwestern’s “excellent capitalization and liquidity” as part of the reason for its high score. A high rating means that the company scored appears to be financially stable, but does not imply that investments placed through that company will be profitable.

NMIS offers both traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as the capability to roll over an existing IRA, and to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth.

Opening Northwestern Mutual IRA

Starting an IRA with NMIS is straightforward. An investor with no prior contact has two options: search the NMIS website by location for an advisor or an office and make a call, or fill out an online request to have an advisor initiate contact. Clients should know how much they want to contribute to set up an IRA. NMIS brokers are familiar with the basic tax regulations and contribution limits, but advisors are not tax experts. The Northwestern website specifically warns that “Northwestern Mutual does not give legal or tax advice”. Brokers can explain the pros and cons of traditional versus Roth IRAs, but should not be expected to advise a client on which to choose.


A beginning investor could choose a single all-purpose fund from one of the large families such as AllianceBernstein Investments, American Century Investments, American Funds, Fidelity Investments, MFS Investments Management, PIMCO or Russell Mutual Funds. For a bigger investor, the scope of these families allows investment in a variety of fund types while maintaining enough invested in a single family to take advantage of reduced charges. Also available are Acorn, Dodge & Cox, Principal, T Rowe Price, Templeton and Vanguard funds.

Customer Service

Once an IRA account is established, clients can check the status online at any time in addition to receiving monthly reports. Clients can choose to receive reports electronically rather than in hard copy, and regardless of the delivery method, reports going back two years are always accessible online.

Access to a specific broker/advisor may be limited by the operating hours of the local office and the advisor’s willingness to take calls outside of normal business hours. NMIS also has a Customer Service center which is open Monday – Friday 7:30 AM to 5 PM CST. Clients can place orders for trades within an IRA account by phone to the broker or to the Customer Service Center, but not over the internet. Voicemails are not accepted to initiate trades.

Interested clients can receive Northwestern’s quarterly, monthly and weekly Market Commentaries via email or view them online after logging in.

Northwestern Mutual IRA Fees

NMIS charges a sliding commission scale based on the size of the trade.

$0 to $1,000 $40 + 0%
$1,001 to $5,000 $50 + 1.3%
$5,001 to $10,000 $50 + 1.2%
$10,001 to $25,000 $50 + 1.1%
$25,001 to $50,000 $50 + 0.95%
$50,001 to $100,000 $50 + 0.85%
$100,001 and up $50 + 0.75%

Charges from the funds themselves depend on the total investment in the fund family. Typical breakpoints to avoid load transactions are $500,000 or $1,000,000 invested in the same family.

IRA accounts have $50 annual service fees, and standard wire transfer fees are imposed an all accounts.

The fees that Northwestern Mutual charges are much higher than what investors get when investing in mutual funds in the discount brokerage companies such as Ally Invest or M1 Finance.


Northwestern provides online access to view and download account information, but not to execute trades. Clients create a login ID and password, and select a picture to be displayed during login to confirm that the site has recognized them correctly.

Brokers are accessible by standard email but Northwestern also has a secure email system for transmitting confidential information. The system requires a separate login and password from those used to access the website.

Information Online

Northwestern’s website gives access to a wealth of information. Clients logged in can retrieve Morningstar fund profiles and to charts for specific stocks and funds. Charting time periods are adjustable from “intra-day every five minutes” to “ten-year monthly”.

Another area of the site allows clients to search for stocks using specific sorting criteria such as industry sector, share price, P/E ratio, four-year EPS growth (%), market capitalization and current dividend yield (%).

The site also stores recent issues of Northwestern’s Market Commentaries, which share analysis from NMIS experts on national and international economic developments.

The Good

Funding a NMIS IRA ensures access to a wide variety of investment vehicles, as well as ongoing support from trained advisors and the security of doing business with a financially strong and stable company.

The Bad

On the down side, no online trading is possible within a NMIS IRA, so activity is restricted to the operating hours of the local office and the national customer service center.

Finding Financial Advisor

If you are looking for a professional money management service in your area, you can search for a Financial Advisor on this website.

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Northwestern Mutual IRA Review Conclusion

It is up to the individual investor to weigh the advantages of strength and reputation of Northwestern Mutual against the potential desire to pay much lower fees on their IRA accounts.


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