There are times when forces beyond our control cause us to pause, take note and appreciate the groundwork laid by our predecessors. These moments of respite, these breaths of sanctity, humble us, educate us, and propel us forward in each of our individual quests for success. Today is one of those days to take a moment and pay tribute to the life and contributions of O. Alfred Granum, CLU®.

Al Granum’s story is one of unwavering belief in the importance of the work of financial professionals, of uncompromising commitment to always doing the right thing for the client, and of unquestionable generosity to share everything he learned for the benefit of the industry.

Born just a few years before the Great Depression and World War II, Al Granum grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin. He was passionate about education and conducted his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1943, simultaneously earning his BA and MA in Life Insurance. After graduating, Al served our country for three years by joining the U.S. Navy during the height of World War II. Upon returning home in 1946, Al contracted with Northwestern Mutual in Amery, WI where his legacy was born.

After a mere eight years as a life insurance agent with Northwestern Mutual, Al qualified as a life member of the Million Dollar Round Table. He was then appointed managing partner in Chicago, IL in 1963. During his tenure as managing partner, his agency with Northwestern Mutual became the first office in the industry to write more than $150 million dollars of new business in a 12-month period, ranked first in company volume and/or premium a staggering 37 times, and qualified 42 of his 45 agents as MDRT members. It was during that period that he conducted his groundbreaking research, which ultimately led to the development of Client Building and the One Card System. This ingenious system is a proven track to success for financial services professionals – providing both the art and science of building a clientele. It is arguably his most influential and important contribution to the industry. After 23 legendary years, Granum retired from his managing partner position, but he continued his work – traveling around the world to teach his Client Building system to help strengthen the profession on a global basis.

Al received the Dennis Tamcsin General Agent Achievement Award in 2000 for his lifetime impact on Northwestern Mutual. He was awarded a Chair in Practice Management at The American College, endowed to him by his peers in 2001, making him one of seven to be recognized in this way in The College’s history. NAIFA presented him with the John Newton Russell Award for outstanding service to the institution of life insurance in 2002, and he also received The American College’s highest honor, the Huebner Gold Medal, in 2003.

In June 2012, to honor his legacy and commitment to lifelong learning, Northwestern Mutual and The American College formally launched the Northwestern Mutual Granum Center for Financial Security. Emboldened with Al’s passion for the profession and pursuit of the truth, the Granum Center champions financial security, seeking to strengthen and grow the profession through original, cutting-edge research, thought forums, webcasts, and advisor resources.

Of all the accomplishments and accolades we can pin on his lapel, it must be said that Granum was rarely driven by recognition. The greatest leaders of our time are those who were fueled by a passion that plaques and awards can never inspire. As we reflect on his impact, we commit to honor him by sharing his principles with the next generation – his legacy is relevant, his teachings are timeless, and his impact is global. O. Alfred Granum’s contributions will continue to inspire, educate and transform agents, and our industry, for decades to come.



Tribute Articles

National Underwriter – Remembering Al Granum


Insurance NewsNet.com – Remembering Al Granum, Industry Innovator


LifeHealthPro.com – Al Granum 1922-2014


ProducersWeb.com – 10-3-1 and the One Card System: Al's Gifts That Keep On Giving