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History and Culture


Trusted, Innovative

In August 1889, Byron Laflin Smith — one of the most respected bankers in Chicago, Illinois — created The Northern Trust Company to serve the city’s affluent individuals and organizations. By 1906, Northern Trust had grown from a single room into a flourishing organization, and moved into a permanent home at 50 South La Salle Street.

In 1891, Northern Trust realized that the prospective proceeds of life insurance claims could be manageable assets. This led us to create the very first life insurance trust.

Northern Trust introduced an employee life insurance plan in 1912, and a pension plan in 1913 – among the first of their kind in the country. That commitment to employees continues today.

In the 1950s, Northern Trust quickly adapted to new advances in technology, automating banking processes and introducing new products and services. And in 1962, we became one of the first financial institutions in the nation to process checks electronically.

In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act. Our advanced personal trust accounting and reporting systems helped us become a leading provider of independent master trustee and custodian services to corporate employee benefit funds.

Meeting Our Clients’ Specialized Needs

In the 1960s, our clients began to develop business interests outside the United States.  Therefore, in 1969, Northern Trust opened a London office, making us the first Illinois-chartered financial institution to open a branch outside the United States.

By 1982, many wealthy families and individuals were using family offices. We formed the Wealth Management Group to provide them sophisticated global custody, asset management, fiduciary and risk management solutions.

In 1998, we formed Northern Trust Global Investments, serving both personal and institutional clients, to provide focused investment management capabilities.

An Expanding Global Vision

As global markets have grown more fast-paced and complex, we have continued to establish new offices and develop new products and services to meet our clients’ needs.

Today, we are the largest administrator of offshore private equity funds in Europe, and one of the world’s leading providers of institutional index management services.

As a trusted provider to investors in all time zones and major markets, we continue to pursue “follow-the-sun,” 365/24/7 global trade communication.

Breakthrough Solutions
24-Hour Foreign Exchange
Securities Lending
Discount Brokerage
Full-Service Brokerage
Institutional Mutual Funds
Global Investments Daily Valuation
Personal Mutual Funds
Manager of Managers
Quantitative Investing
Integrated Risk Management,
Multinational Headquarters Reporting
Value Investing
Cross-Border Pooling,
Hedge & Private Equity Funds
Global Real Estate Fund,
Liability Driven Investments,
Exchange-Traded Funds
Common Contractual Funds
Implementation & Oversight
Regulatory Services
Goals Driven Investing™
Collateral & Liquidity Management Solutions
Authorised Contractual Scheme Services