Our Story

Our Story

Our Story

Our Story

In 1991, Ed Wehmer opened a small storefront community bank location, in a northern Chicago suburb, with the idea to reimagine what a banking experience could be. Around the same time, Frank Burke also helped start a young company, FIRST Insurance Funding (FIRST), that was reimagining premium financing. A few years later, in 1996, the two, and a handful of other community banks Ed helped open, merged to form Wintrust.

For more than 30 years, FIRST has been offering industry-leading premium finance services in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, and Canada. But, it’s that relationship with Wintrust that helps give us one of our biggest differentiators.

Our tie to Wintrust allows us to offer our partners complete financial solutions. We can provide perpetuation and acquisition lending, treasury management solutions, corporate plan services, capital leasing, and life insurance premium financing. We truly understand how to serve independent, middle to upper market insurance agents, brokers, and their business clients and we can provide a full range of services other premium financing companies can’t.

Frank and Ed

Wintrust Founder & CEO Edward J. Wehmer (left) and FIRST Chairman Frank Burke (right) in the early days. Ed and Frank are credited with the foundational work that created the Wintrust and FIRST that we recognize today.


More than $8 BILLION in loans financed annually


More than 30 years in business


One of the largest premium finance companies in North America


Over 300,000 loans written annually in U.S. and Canada



More than 35 Relationship Managers across the nation

50 States

Authorized to lend in all 50 states, the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada


Backed by the financial muscle of Wintrust, a $45+ billion financial holding company

Response Time

Unmatched response times for both quoting and booking

Our Community Involvement

We work hard to support local organizations and national causes, including March of Dimes, Catholic Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Habitat for Humanity, and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.


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