This 158-year old, trillion-dollar insurer just bought a hot financial services startup

Northwestern Mutual has provided a range of insurance services, from annuities to long-term planning to business services for 158 years.

And today, — but it just made a big acquisition to bolster its digital capacity with LearnVest, the Milwaukee insurer announced Wednesday.

Specifics on the deal were not immediately available, but Fortune reported a price tag of $US250 million for LearnVest, which raised about $US70 million across seven-plus years leading up to the buy.

For Northwestern Mutual, which has more than $US1 trillion in force on behalf of its clients, the digital play can potentially help it access a new generation of clients. Or, at least, that’s what the company’s leadership believes. From the deal announcement: “There’s been a gap between what consumers want and what the financial industry has been able to offer,” says Northwestern Mutual chairman and CEO John Schlifske.

For the uninitiated, LearnVest was launched in 2009 by Alexa von Tobel, and initially was aimed at providing investing and personal finance advice to women. Now, with her company being fully absorbed by Northwestern Mutual, von Tobel will remain with LearnVest as head of the product.

While LearnVest focuses more on personal finance options, there are a slew of new startups in the financial services industry that aim to dethrone industry incumbents that have, over centuries of client development, amassed trillions in assets. Some, like Betterment, already count some big Wall St. firms among its roster of backers. However, elsewhere, other industry mainstays like Charles Schwab continue to ramp up in-house offerings in an attempt to thwart startups’ growth trajectory.

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