Thrivent growing regionally, nationally

Fraternal benefits society has diversified

By Bob Freund

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is increasing the size of its southern Minnesota sales force, bulking up along with a national buildup.

The Minneapolis-based fraternal benefits society expects to add 20 to 25 financial representatives in the 23-county territory by year-end, said Todd Jacobsen, a partner and director of recruiting for the regional office in Rochester.


Hoping to double

Thrivent has about 80 financial associates in the area, which stretches across the southern part of the state as far as Jackson County. The business, Jacobsen said, would like to reach 125 associates within the next three to five years.

Thrivent representatives advise clients and primarily sell pooled financial investments, such as life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. All hold state licenses.

Non-profit Thrivent was formed 18 months ago when two fraternal benefits giants, Lutheran Brotherhood of Minneapolis and Aid Association for Lutherans of Appleton, Wis., merged.

Not just life insurance

Historically, both were life insurers, but now they are a fully diversified financial services organization.

The Rochester-based expansion is part of an 800-agent build-up throughout the United States. It will increase Thrivent's sales force of 2,430 financial representatives by about one-third by year-end.

Thrivent sees great potential in its fraternal market alone. It currently has nearly 3 million members, but that is about one-third of the 9.5 million adult Lutherans estimated in a survey quoted by the company.


"When one looks at the size of our existing client base and the entire Lutheran population, the upside potential is absolutely breathtaking," Thrivent senior vice president Jim Thomsen, who heads the company's field force, said in a written release.

Although the bulk of its business is with Lutheran church members, "We broker products to absolutely everybody," Jacobsen said.

Locally, Thrivent has 86,033 members in the RFO (southern Minnesota) area, which is home to more than 300,000 Lutherans, said partner Craig Darrington, one of two managing partners for the southern region. The other is Tim Valen.

The company's corporate headquarters is in Minneapolis, and its operations headquarters is at AAL's former hub in Appleton, Wis.

Bouncing back

Thrivent had $57 billion in assets under management at the end of March. Its $5.6 billion in sales last year ranked the company as the 302nd-biggest company in the Fortune 500.

However, it also sustained a loss of $345.9 million in 2002, the year of the merger.

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