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Problems With TIAA-Cref

This article was written by in Investing. 1,547 comments.

Apparently I was not the only person having problems with TIAA-Cref.

When I contacted the company to report my missing contribution, the customer service representative was very helpful and assured me the account would be adjusted. I had complete confidence, and when I checked my account yesterday, the deposit had been made and backdated. My minor situation was resolved to my satisfaction.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays Bank.

Do you have any thoughts about TIAA-Cref? Read the over 400 comments below and leave your own if you have an experience with TIAA-Cref to share.

Updated October 15, 2015 and originally published January 11, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 1547 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous February 1, 2006 at 7:58 pm

I am having major problems with TIAA CREF. If you have money invested get it out right away. I am trying to get my mutual funds out now and of course I am not getting any response. The government needs to go after this outfit immediately.

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avatar 2 Luke Landes February 1, 2006 at 11:34 pm

Can you be more specific about your problems, Jmd? My problem was quickly resolved.

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avatar 3 Anonymous May 11, 2006 at 2:39 am

We are 7 weeks into trying to get a disbursement out of one or our accounts with TIAA/CREF. Do you have any suggestions that worked to get resolution from them? You would think in the 6 months since CNN reported about customer dissatisfction TIAA-CREF would have solved their problems…

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avatar 4 Luke Landes May 11, 2006 at 10:35 am

I made sure my paperwork was perfect originally. After TIAA-Cref didn’t hold up their end of the agreement, I called every week about the issue and was always polits. I don’t think it came down to human error, per se. Their systems for transfers were backed up so much. It is still human error by the fact that no one should have ever let the system get in such a condition.

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avatar 5 Anonymous May 19, 2006 at 1:25 pm

I have been having a problem with TC for almost 2 months. I left my previous employer after a only having 3 months paid in, have been trying to get ahold of those funds for two months. They have either not sent, or sent the wrong paperwork. Once I got the correct paperwork the fax was lost. I was given the incorrect info on filling it out. Now they have had the correct paperwork and a check was suppose to have been mailed on a week ago, it still has not arrived.

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avatar 6 Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

Stay on top of them. I was in your position in 1994. I thought I had gotten all my money out of TIAA-CREF. They stopped sending me statements. I just found out that they never processed one of the requests and now I have to take out 10% over ten years. It’s only $400 a year but it’s over $2K. A big nuisance. Call them twice a day every day if you have to. Don’t end up like me !

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avatar 7 Anonymous October 1, 2006 at 2:40 am

TIAA/Cref has still not corrected errors to my account since June. I have now filed a complaint with the SEC as I just keep getting the run around from TIAA/CREF. I was told by one employee that the transaction errors that the software made are actually my fault! Well I know one thing for sure, I requested in writing, that the funds from my previous employer be transfered to Vanguard in JUne and to date the transfer is still incomplete.

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avatar 8 Anonymous October 20, 2006 at 2:34 pm

I have been locked out of my main TIAA-CREF account since June 2006, and cannot make any asset transfer within the account. They keep telling me the problem will be “investigated.” Nothing ever happens. I have filed a complaint with the SEC.

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avatar 9 Anonymous December 25, 2006 at 9:16 pm

I had and still have problems with scheduled transfers and with accessing my account online for many weeks now. I suggest everyone fax their transfer request like i have been doing. Still my account isn’t updated online but they do show that I have made transfer requests. The fax number I use is 1-800-914-8922. Can anyone tell me how to contact the SEC?

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avatar 10 Anonymous January 5, 2007 at 10:20 am

I have been having problems with TIAA Cref since July 2006 with a simple request of changing my loan to a montly billing. All the customer reps say it will be done, yet each month it is not, and now I am getting the runaround. The last person I talked with in customer resolutions tells me that they are so backed up it takes a couple of months. Now it has been almost 6 months! I believe this is unacceptable behavior. Does anyone else have this problem?

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avatar 11 Anonymous January 12, 2007 at 9:04 am

My two nieces have separate TIAA-CREF mutual fund accounts. In early December I mailed Christmas investments to their accounts using the PO box shown in the TIAA CREFF mutual fund Q & A under “where to mail fund investments.” Two weeks later, my check came back to me from the post office, “no such address.” When I contacted TIAA CREF by telephone the customer rep advised me the PO Box shown on the website is not correct. It was changed over a year ago. TIAA CREF needs to get its act together

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avatar 12 Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 11:32 pm

I am having major problems with deposits made to my TIAA-CREF accounts – thishas now been for several months. I have tried getting this fixed without success. My impression is that TIAA-CREF is completely un-responsive. I have three questions:

a) How widespread are the current problems with TIAA-CREFF. Am I alone ?

b) Can anyone recommend a method that will help. I should note that after failing to get any action taken (despite being toild many times that my problem was being “escalated”) I have written to the board of trustees and I have filed formal complaints with NASD & SEC, These actions led to a phone call (the first time that I have been called by TIAA-CREF) – I was told again that “my problem” was being “escalated” again, Nothing has happened. What should I do now.

c) TIAA-CREF acts as if they have no legal liability – is this true ?

Comments and advice would be appreciated.

Roger

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avatar 13 Anonymous January 20, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Reading the comments and problems cited above gives me very little solace and very serious concerns. My problem is somewhat different. In December of 2001 I asked for a transfer of funds from one of my accounts into another. While funds were moved, the WRONG funds were moved but my quarterly statements indicated that everything was exactly as I had intended it to be. Then, in December of 2005 (yes, four years later) I received a phone call indicating that they discovered an error in a “routine audit” and corrected it by taking back 25% of my total accumulations! What? They do “routine audits” every four years? The world’s largest retirement program? I’ve been in touch with the CEO who passed my inquiry on to a senior “team manager” who wrote me last October assuring me another “senior manager” would be in touch with me shortly. Well, here we are … 1/20/2007 … and no further contact. I do believe they have liability for their error … an error they admit THEY made … and that liability is to restore my account’s balance to what it would presently be had the error been reflected in the quarterly statements in which event it would have been reversed ~ 3/31/2002. Barton

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avatar 14 Anonymous January 26, 2007 at 11:31 am

I have had major problems with TIAA-CREF. I requested an electronic withdrawal to be paid to my bank checking account from a retirement account December 5th… for $6,315 it has yet to be sent to my bank by today, January 25th, 2007. I have called daily for the past two weeks and was assured each time that it would receive rush action. Yesterday, I was assured that it would go out yesterday; yet today, it has not been sent and I could obtain no assurance as to the ‘date’ that it would be sent. So much for timely response to requests. Overall, I have talked with more than 10 TIAA-CREF personnel and their documentation includes most of the interactions, including the emails and letters that remain unanswered.

Whatever the problems are, they appear to be serious and raise many serious questions, including deception and mismanagement.

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avatar 15 Anonymous February 25, 2007 at 11:56 am

T-C must have very powerful lobbyists. In May ’05 they unilaterally and suddenly dropped service to internationally based U.S. institutions, including mine, citing post-911 difficulties “…for companies like ours to service the clients abroad while maintaining the highest level of service for the majority of our clients in the United States.” [You’re supposed to laugh.]

On our end, that meant contributions directed to a new provider while we are held (despite legal challenges) to the pre-existing “contract” restrictions that applied when we had an intact plan, but minus the benefits of same.

What I’m seeing here shows that you stateside folks are getting the same “highest level of service” that we’ve come to expect: nice helpful folks on the phone but little action (especially when trying to move money *out*). Phone reps contradict each other with impunity, and the only record is on their end. Worst case for me was last year when I almost lost a home I was buying. Eventually I got my loan and an apology for the “misinformation” I’d received, but only with heavyweight employer intervention. The saga continues.

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avatar 16 Anonymous March 8, 2007 at 3:00 pm

TIAA-CREF is three months behind in crediting voluntary contributions to my 403(b) plan made through payroll deductions by my employer, a non-profit with about 80 employees. Most of our employees are in the same position, but it is us older ones, who are maxing out our voluntary contributions, who are experiencing the disappearance of thousands of dollars each. TIAA-CREF personnel are polite but have initiated three separate “research requests” with absolutely no result. Our employer is transmitting the funds and supporting documentation properly and on time and we can prove that. This is a gross breach of a contractual and fiduciary responsibility. I am preparinag to pursue a complaint to whatever regulatory authorities have jurisdiction on such matters and would welcome any knowledge or advice. I also will not hesitate to file suit if that is what it takes to get their attention. If you were depositing cash in a bank account, and the bank took the cash but then never credited your account, wouldn’t you be hopping mad, too?

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avatar 17 Anonymous March 10, 2007 at 8:38 pm

My problems have now (finally) been fixed – 7 months after the problems ocurred (see #11 above).

My impression is that most of the actions I took were completely ineffective, including numerous phone calls to customer relations and complaints filed with NASD & SEC. In retrospect, the only action that resulted in my problem being fixed (although still very slowly) was sending a complaint to the Board of Trustee. There is a link on the TIAA-CREF web-page. I recommend that anyone else with TIAA-CREF problems should do this.

I hope that this is helpful.

Roger

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avatar 18 Anonymous March 15, 2007 at 3:12 pm

I just discovered the comments relating to TIAA-CREF. I feel somewhat better knowing that I am not alone. I processed paperwork in Feb. 2006 to start RMD from my 403(b) in Dec. of 06. When MRD did not appear I started calling. It took 5 weeks to finally get almost the correct amount. Part of RMD was in wrong year. I spent almost 50 hours attempting to get my money. Do we have grounds for a class action suit? jim

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avatar 19 Anonymous March 16, 2007 at 9:08 am

My comment is much like number 17 by Jim, a request for a RMD that has required numerous phone calls and e-mail and is still not resolved.

The comments on this Web site must reflect just a tiny percentage of the thousands who are receiving poor service.

The University of Minnesota has dropped TIAA-CREF from its approved TDA programs because of poor customer service. TIAA-CREF should stop spending so much on advertising and use these resources to fix their problems

Morgan

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avatar 20 Anonymous March 26, 2007 at 1:07 pm

I have requested a loan for the second time over a few months to help my parents out. The first time it took almost 2 1/2 months to process the paperwork – they said mine was escalated.. I am not approaching 1 month wait on this one – they did send a payment but it did not match either loan request I submitted. I requested the President or Director (what they are called) to call me with a date of when I would be getting my funds…. no one has called. Who do I complain to?

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avatar 21 Anonymous March 28, 2007 at 7:43 pm

My wife has been unable to start her annuity payments. We have been lied to repeatedly. There has been NO ACTION on her duly-submitted paperwork.

This is very, very serious for us and probably for thousands of others. What, if anything, can be done?

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avatar 22 Anonymous April 18, 2007 at 3:35 pm

TIAA-CREF continues to be shamelessly unresponsive to requests for service. In October 2006 I completed and forwarded to them forms required for the minimum required distributions from my retirement accounts. The organization began the distribution from some of my accounts, but with no explanation failed to begin the distribution from others. In March of this year I submitted a second form, but with no result or explanation. In response to an e-mail a representative sent some vague information about how much I should receive from these accounts. A telephone representative told me there were errors with the placement of account numbers and guided me through the completion of two more forms.
Whether there were errors or not the intent of my submission in 2006 was perfectly clear, and a truly responsive organization would have worked through the errors with me. An organization with normal consideration would have quickly informed me of the errors and instructed me how to rectify them. I can only conclude that TIAA-CREF is not very considerate.

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avatar 23 Anonymous April 19, 2007 at 10:53 pm

I’ve had it with TIAA-CREF. I don’t trust them with my money, and neither should you. In a family emergency two weeks ago, I contacted them about a “distribution on employee contract” (my own voluntarily-contributed portion of my aggressive, i.e., liquid, allocations). I was put through an absolute nightmare which is ongoing as I type this. I was told flat out that my entire employee portion was now in a TIAA Traditional plan and thus I could not withdraw funds other than 10% each year for 10 years. This literally floored me, I had never signed up for a traditional account!!! After finally getting the form for at least a 10% distribution, I discovered another coworker was also going through the same nightmare. I had my employer pull my record and, indeed, quite clearly when the plan was set up I had chosen an aggressive portfolio and NOT a TIAA Traditional account. My employer contacted TIAA-CREF who offered no apology but merely a “we will make the adjustments necessary and the employee will now have to fill out an ED48 withdrawal form.” This, all the while they now have a form requesting money from a “traditional” account. What a mess. I am presuming they will make the required adjustments and make this right very swiftly as this entire situation is under close watch by my employer and the plan representative from TIAA-CREF to assure fast turnaround due to hardship (family emergency). Time will tell. I will, however, clearly state here that it is my personal opinion that TIAA-CREF is entirely dysfunctional as a company. I was given different information each time I called daily over a two-week period, with some of the representatives expressing an extreme lack of interest in following through to assure my questions were answered. Now that I am aware that this is happening with other employees where I work as well, i.e., their liquid aggressive portfolios becoming a “traditional” account magically overnight, I am certain that thousands throughout the country are having their own accounts misadjusted and their investments utilized in a completely irresponsible manner and they are not yet aware…until they too have a family emergency and need money quick and are told “your account is TIAA Traditional” when they had signed up for an aggressive non-traditional portfolio!!

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avatar 24 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Here it is December 2010 and the same thing is still happening. I also have a family emergency and am told I cannot have MY money. I am not asking for a BAILOUT just for MY money. I will go to the end to fight this total lack of uncaring. I too was told different information by two different representatives, upon asking the same question of both. I was told not to take this personally, as a woman with terminal cancer who had been given only 3 months to live made the same request “we did not give her her money either”. I was sickened. What a total lack of uncaring on anyone’s part let alone those who you are told are looking out for your best interests. If no one else can solve the problem or answer you question you are sent to the “Customer Care Team” where there is no CARE going on in any way shapre or form. On their website they boast of being a $583 billion dollar company. I question, if they are worried about my $44,000 making a difference in their funds there must be some misdoing going on. A ponzi scheme, a pyramid scheme something does not seem right about all of this. What does anyone else think?

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avatar 25 Anonymous January 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm

These comments are very interesting. I thought the problems I had were only me. In l997 my late husband was suddenly desperately ill. He had an IRA at TC (as well as a TIAA annuity contract). As his wife, I had a durable power of attorney covering all financial and medical matters (I was also an academic with funds at TC). that my attorney assured me was completely legally binding and correct. TC would not allow me to access my husband’s IRA funds for the purpose of covering the costs of his hospital and subsequent nursing home care. Their excuse was that my power of attorney was not typed on “their” paperwork and did not include words excluding them from all legal consequences of honoring my desperate request to access his funds. It was necessary for me to liquidate a large portion of my own SRA funds, nearly all of our non-retirement funds and borrow a large amt of money at credit card rates to pay for his care. When he died in early l998, it was necessary for me to borrow money at credit card rates to bury him. It has taken years (and who knows how much credit card interest) to pay off the debts from his illness and death. Our financial security was destroyed and my life turned into a nightmare. I
tried multiple times to speak with someone at TC who might be helpful – of course, all to no avail. My attorney continued to tell me that the paperwork I had was completely and totally correct. Since my husband was so ill there was no way the durable power of attorney could be redone on TC paperwork as he was no longer able to sign his name. Hence the attorney could do nothing to help us.
Good luck to all of you. At the time the situation was so desperate that it never occurred to me that this was a systemic problem with TC – I just assumed it was my bad luck and not having anyone in the family with the legal knowledge to help us.
(This is the first time I have ever posted on the net. However the troubles all of you have and are experiencing reflect in so many ways the many issues I have had with TC, including issues with my own funds, that I felt it appropriate to break my silence).

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avatar 26 Anonymous April 27, 2007 at 12:58 pm

I am having major problems with TIAA. My automatic deductions have been sent to TIAA according to my payroll office, but TIAA has not posted any contributions that have been sent in on my account since 11/06!!!! It has been 6 months of my trying to get this corrected and updated. I have called and emailed countess TIAA reps. I’m told that someone is researching this. No one can even tell me what my current balance is at this time. This is unbelieveable. When you call, they act like you are the only one with this issue and they don’t let on that others are going through the same nightmare!!

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avatar 27 Anonymous May 1, 2007 at 7:12 pm

I was locked out of my TIAA-CREF account for 6 months. There is an easy solution: file a formal complaint with the SEC. That got my problem solved. If you just complain to TIAA they will tell you they are “investigating� the problem, but will do nothing. It is amazing how much incompetence this company can display without consequences.

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avatar 28 Anonymous May 16, 2007 at 11:38 pm

I’m another victim. T-C has lost track of my employer contributions every month since October 06. Calling their customer service is a complete waste of time. Go to http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml to see how to file a complaint with the SEC. That’s the only way to get a response, but even when they fix one month’s screw-up and assure the SEC everything is fine and dandy, they screw up the next month’s contribution and you have to do it again. This company is criminally incompetent. Employers owe a duty to their employees to stop using this company. Their advertising is blatantly false and the SEC should close them down or turn the assets over to a competent honest receiver.

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avatar 29 Anonymous May 18, 2007 at 11:18 pm

TIAA-CREF made a big mess of my 403(b) contribution!!!

I have my 403(b) account with TIAA-CREF since 08/01/2006.

On 04/13/2007, TIAA-CREF sent me a letter mentioned that my account got switch from a RA account to a GSRA account. The letter cached my attention, so I started
looking into my account activity. The more I compared the number among various statements and the website information, the more confused I was. Finally I
realized TIAA-CREF made a whole mess of my contribution and provided inaccurate financial statement. I made so many calls and more than a month passed, there is no correction made to my 403(b) account, and there is big difference between the
contribution from my payroll statement, and the TIAA-CREF statement:

1. In year 2006, TIAA-CREF’s statement shows only half of my contribution, without any indication of my employer’s match.

2. My employer made consistent remittance to TIAA-CREF every month. But TIAA_CREF’s statement show no balance increase from 12/30/06 to 3/31/07.

3. There is big difference between 03/31/07 to current. From 03/31/07 to current, my balance jump 3 times of my previous quarter. There is no explanation why there is a big jump all of a sudden. The life-to-Date contribution has my employer total contribution correct (but nowhere else I can see the detail), but
employee life-to-date contribution is less than my total contribution. There is no track of all my contribution either.

I requested the investigation for over a month. So far there is no progress at all. Even the service representative can immediately spot the problem from their screen. No one in TIAA-CREF really looked at the mess they created. So I am looking for any suggestion and push to TIAA-CREF. Plus, I would like to see if there is any
legal liability that TIAA-CREF can not keep track of customer’s financial transaction. Since my money didn’t get in the account on time, how do I recover
the lost of my investment due to TIAA-CREF’s mistake?

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avatar 30 Anonymous May 31, 2007 at 8:39 pm

TIAA CREF has serious customer service problems and the problems detailed on this page are quite typical. Their call center operators are completely ill-equipped to deal with most customer problems. They have been going through a major system conversion for the last several years, and almost all problems are blamed on technical glitches beyond their control. It’s frustrating for those of us who have depended on TIAA CREF and don’t have other options.

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avatar 31 Anonymous June 2, 2007 at 9:59 am

I have been a TIAA-CREF participant since 1975. Now in the distribution phase, I have had an absurd level of difficulty in getting money out of CREF accounts. I began the process in August 2006 and finally resolved the last problem in May of 2007. Those planning on retiring had better (1) start the process early, (2) have six months or more of reserve funds to live on during delays, (3) have their employer’s benefits people in support, (4) have lots of patience.

TIAA-CREF used to be run for the benefit of its participants. Now, I am convinced it is being run for the benefit of management, much like a bank. I have been getting periodic payments from a CREF account now for about six months. I have noticed that electronic funds transfers are almost always issued near a weekend even if they have to be delayed several days to do so. The only time a transfer was initiated on the first of a month was when that occurred on a Friday (June 2007). Now, why do you suppose that is? Could it be that TIAA-CREF wants the float even though this approach costs its participants? To me, the interest loss is small, but in aggregate I’d bet the amount is pretty large.

Something unhealthy has happened to the way TIAA-CREF is run that goes beyond the fiasco with the computer system upgrade. If I were starting over, I would go with Vanguard, Fidelity, or similar if available and stay away from TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 32 Anonymous June 13, 2007 at 11:16 pm

I’ve also had problems with TC, though different than those stated above.
Mine centers around trying to give them money for my roth.
Was told to have everything postmarked by 4/17, and I did. I’ve had to ontinually follow-up to tyr and get them to take the contribution. I’ve been told many things, including the fact that it would be done that day (never was) and then a week later that I couldn’t contribute because I don’t have a Roth (I do, and have been contributing for several years). Now, after nearly 8 weeks of runaround, I get a letter stating that they are no longer accepting 2006 contributions!?!?!

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avatar 33 Anonymous June 19, 2007 at 2:27 pm

I am a reporter with eWeek magazine and have covered the issues at TIAA-CREF in depth. I was under the impression that many of the company’s systems upgrade issues were resolved, but looking at these posts that doesn’t seem to be the case.

If, as of June 2007, you are still having issues with TIAA-CREF and are willing to speak to the press, please contact me, either via email or by phone. I can be reached at [email protected], or 518.580.8515.

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avatar 34 Anonymous June 18, 2009 at 11:01 pm

This will be the 3RD straight year that i have not recieved my Annual Payout from my Annuity at TIAA-CREF on time. The payment is supposed to be Directly Deposited into my Bank Account on May 1. I have to make phone Calls to Customer Service Staff including Supervisors who tell me Basicly anything from where Very Sorry this happended again, we are having Trouble Understanding the Rules of your plan, and we will send you Different Paperwork Etc. So far this year, I have sent 2 Sets of paperwork, made 6 Phone Calls, and still have not recieved my Annual Payout as of this date. I resigned my position at Lake forest College in 2007.

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avatar 35 Anonymous June 25, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Similar story here. After paying in for over 11 years I got laid off. I have a new job starting in August but needed some funds to pay off some bills. I requested a withdrawal over 4 weeks ago and every week I’ve been told the money will be transferred to my account by Friday. It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also been promised every week that a supervisor will call me. This also has not happened. At this point my bills are late and I can’t get any satisfaction. I have sent an email to the trustees, filed with SEC, and contacted the reporter above as of today.

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avatar 36 Anonymous June 28, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I filed the paperwork for my annuity payouts at the end of March, asking for an end of June beginning for my payments. I had a new campus representative help me fill out my paperwork, and he was so nervous and made so many mistakes, I pulled out my CREF contributions and only annuitiezed my TIAA money.
My first payment was deposited on the 18th of this month and was 1/3 rd of what I had been told I would receive. I have called almost every day since. At first they could not find the rest of my contributions so they could not tell me what my payout would be. When they did find the other money, I was assured that contract was in “processing” and if I called back on Thursday, they could tell me what I would be receiving. Today (Thursday) they still couldn’t tell me what I would be getting; they only have my balance as of 12/31/06 posted, although I’ve made contributions in January, February, March, April, May, and June. Every time I call I get someone new and have to go through the same story, and wait on hold for anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. I am filing a complaint with the SEC and telling my co-workers to pull their money out of TIAA as quickly as possible.

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avatar 37 Anonymous July 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm

I have to add my voice to those complaining about poor service.
I would suggest that anyone who can get out of TIAA-CREF do so.
I have been going back and forth for 4 months now trying to get my traditional IRA and previous employer’s 403b funds transferred to my current employer’s plan.
TIAA-CREF follow through and delays have been ridiculous. Now, they are refusing to fill out the form requested by my current employer’s plan. TC tells me they are not authorized to sign the form, which simply states that the funds came from a tax deferred employer plan.
I have filed a complaint with the NASD. We will see what happens.

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avatar 38 Anonymous July 11, 2007 at 10:41 am

As you can see, I am a former employee having worked there for many years. Most importantly I am also a customer as TIAA employees use the same products that are offered to customers. Having worked there for so long, my assets are substantial. I have also experienced poor service and have been given wrong information. Unlike the general populace, I can get access to more senior level consultants to correct the problems but even then it takes far too long.

Fort-two percent of the employees have been there two years or less. Morale is extremely poor. It is no wonder that service is poor. Don’t blame the employees. When the current CEO came on board several years ago, there was a need for change and improvement. He seemingly had a plan. However, the execution has been dreadful. Attempts to correct the initial problems have made the situation worse. Decisions have been made by individuals who didn’t understand the business, most notably the CIO and head of HR. Both individual and institutional customers are pulling out their assets. Those of us who can’t are very worried about the future. It is astounding that the Boards of Trustees have let this continue.

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avatar 39 Anonymous July 12, 2007 at 1:01 pm

As a follow-up to the comments in #34: When the current CEO came in, TIAA-CREF had multiple computer systems throughout the divisions, most of which could not “talk” to one another. With the new CEO, systems were ripped out and thrown away, as were most of the IT people who knew what really had to be done. [One, a good friend of mine, dropped dead from the pressures he and his staff were under.]

On vacation last December, I happened to talk to someone I didn’t know, who – it turns out – is from an outside firm which has been brought in to help correct all of the systems problems. He’d been there [if I remember correctly] at least 6 months. And had no idea how long it’s going to take to fix the situation.

When I retire in a year or two, I intend to go to an IRA I have with another company and spread the money over three or four years. By then TIAA-CREF might have it’s problems solved.

Oh, those systems that didn’t talk to one another? Well, the staff members in the various divisions could, and they could work together to get you your money and fix any problems you might have. Those staff members have now, for the most part, been thrown in together so that everyone is expected to know how to do anything and everything. Kind of like calling the plumber if you have a toothache. Too many very qualified people have been fired or have quit. Good luck!

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avatar 40 Anonymous July 18, 2007 at 9:45 am

I have also been a participant for quite a while. As a former employee I can tell you with a background of knowledge that service is very poor and employee morale is very low. Current management is failing. I suggest that you do as others have done. Contact the Board of Trustees and vote on the Exec Comp plan. If you go to the website you will see information about this. It is time for a change.

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avatar 41 Anonymous July 20, 2007 at 6:27 pm

It took about a year to do a simple change of beneficiary request with TIAA-CREF.

During that time I called numerous times, responded as requested with letters and documentation (including both registered and overnight letters), and although I was assured that they had all the information they needed, when I would later check back I would find that nothing had changed.

I was never notified at any point that there was a problem, nor did I receive a reply from any of my correspondence.

Finally, I got a call from an executive with a promise that it would be taken care of…and eventually (after more forms and telephone calls)it was.

After all this I was concerned about the fate of my retirement funds, so I have now started to withdraw my money.

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avatar 42 Anonymous July 21, 2007 at 10:06 am

Was this article written?

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avatar 43 Anonymous August 9, 2007 at 12:08 am

I worked for the organization for about 8 years in the capacity of a senior consulting rep. It amazes me to see that the problems persist after having left about a year ago.

I will be quite candid about the scope of the problems – management has seen to it that, if an employee is honest to participants about the problems, they are soon pressured to leave. I speak from direct experience. Employees work in fear that a loss of their position is likely if they don’t tell lies.

Management has no credibility. The CEO has seen to it that only those employees who remain must cower to his directions to survive. They may be a giant in the industry, but their problems are simply not being addressed by management.

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avatar 44 Anonymous August 10, 2007 at 10:15 am

It looks like changes are afoot at TIAA-CREF. The Chief Technology Officer has been forced out. Another EVP responsible for Customer Services has announced her retirement. The word on the street is that more changes are coming. Perhaps the Board of Trustees is now willing to agree that major mistakes and poor decisions have been made by senior management including the CEO and HR head.

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avatar 45 Anonymous August 21, 2007 at 5:38 pm
avatar 46 Anonymous October 31, 2007 at 4:43 am

Does anyone have advice on selection of a legal firm to sue TIAA/CREF for damages? They incorrectly placed a loan of mine in default, wiping out thousands in retirement savings and potentially costing me thousands in taxes. I have attempted to get them to correct this but they are useless.

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avatar 47 Anonymous April 22, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Hi, I am wondering if you ever found a legal firm to sue TIAA-CREF? If so would appreciate your input and level of satisfaction.

Thanks,

Yan

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avatar 48 Anonymous July 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

If you found a good attorney please email their info. We are experiencing problems with TIAA regarding the changing of beneficiary designations over the internet. Thank you, Bill

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avatar 49 Anonymous November 21, 2007 at 1:07 pm

I cannot remember the last time I was able to smoothly execute a transaction with TIAA/CREF. Today, I called to find out what was happening to a request for withdrawal from a money market account, faxed to them 7 days ago. They informed me that the request was declined because (get a load of this!) my spouse’s notarized authorization to withdraw the funds was signed the day before I had signed the form. First of all, I cannot find, on the form, specific instructions regarding dates of signatures, and that rule seems incredibly silly to me. Second, no one felt an obligation to call me (when I had specifically requested to be called if there was a question about the request) to inform me that the request was declined.

This is only one among several similar issues I have had with TIAA/CREF over the past 2 – 3 years. Like other contributors to this blog, I am so angry that I am ready to sue that organization if I have a chance to do so. And like others, I am planning to move my funds to another fund manager. Whatever changes were announced or expected earlier this year are simply not happening.

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avatar 50 Anonymous November 21, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Greetings,

Everyone who has left a comment on this site should file a complaint with the SEC. After a while, it doesn’t matter how powerful their lobbyists might be. TIAA CREF will be sending them to DC to do damage control instead of figuring out new ways to screw us out of our money.

I am also writing a letter to the House Committee on Financial Services.

I knew that there was no way I could be the only person to whom this is happening. Next, I am going to be making calls to business reporters I know who may not be familiar with how the investment firm with a conscience is sticking it to its clients.

Go to the SEC website and file a complaint. Then send a letter to the House Committee on Financial Services. The more we make noise in the right place, the less room the folks at CREF will have to hide.

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avatar 51 Anonymous November 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm

I just sent the following letter to a financial columnist at the Washington Post. Feel free to use the text to help spread your story:

TIAA-CREF won’t release my money and the money of many others

As a reader of your column and someone who feels that you are
genuinely concerned about the financial well-being of the public, I
wanted to bring the following information to your attention.

I have been trying for more than an month to cash out of an account I
have with TIAA-CREF. I was unemployed for a while and desperately
need this money to make my mortgage payment (which I locked in at
around 6.25%). However, the folks at CREF have been giving me the run
around the entire time, and upon doing a Google search, I found out
that my problem is insignificant compared to what others have been
forced to endure at the hands of this company. You can see some of
the stories here. I am sure you will notice how similar they are:
http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/problems-with-tiaa-cref/#comment-123625

If you would like to hear more about my story, please feel free to
contact me at XXX.XXX.XXXX.

TIAA-CREF claims to be the in the businesses of “financial services
for the greater good.” But based on the stories being told on this
website, it looks like they are doing considerably more harm than
good. And, I suspect this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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avatar 52 Anonymous December 2, 2007 at 12:34 pm

I started a new 403(b) account with TIAA-CREF earlier this year after starting with a new employer simply because my old employer used TIAA-CREF. Within three months, I realized things were very wrong (for many of the same reasons noted by others here–missing contributions, misallocated funds, incredibly incompetent customer service) and opened a new 403b with Vanguard. It took me three more months to get my money wrested from TIAA-CREF’s grubby fingers and into my Vanguard account. but I am out of there.

Looking at this blog, it is clear that the problems are systemic. For more evidence, check out the below recent article, and get out if you can.

link

Retirement fund a poor education

November 30, 2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Last year I retired from teaching at the City College of New York and have a large sum of money in a 403(b) with Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) the long-term performance of which has been about 4.6 percent, which is awful. I’ve been taking distributions and the TIAA-CREF clerks are dumber than the Burger King people you write about.

I’ve made over 20 phone calls this year and those clerks continue to deduct excessive withholdings from my checks, include service charges of which I know nothing, send checks that are short by hundreds of dollars and it just goes on and on and on.

How can I get out of this lousy 403(b) before I have a heart attack?

The other concern is my wife, who also teaches and has a TIAA-CREF 403(b). She’s 12 years younger and the performance of her plan is terrible compared to the plans of some of our friends who are in private industry. Is there any way to cancel her 403(b) with TIAA-CREF and move it to a better venue?

And can you tell me and at least a dozen other professors who are similarly disgusted why TIAA-CREF has performed so poorly compared to other plans and why they are having so much difficulty issuing checks to others and me.

S.B. Syracuse, N.Y. Dear S.B.: TIAA-CREF (TC) does poorly because they have a captive and trusting clientele so there’s no incentive to hire good people to manage your money. And because the TC administration has investors by the kidneys there’s no incentive to pay for competent clerical personnel. Your complaints about TC’s clerical staff and accounting nightmares are common. I’ve received hundreds of letters from pensioners and investors who have been denied access to their accounts.

TC is a $500 billion pension fund (they also peddle Individual Retirement Accounts, high-commission low-yield annuities, costly Simplified Employee Pension IRAs, expensive life insurance, and Roth IRAs, etc.) that has insinuated itself, like tapeworms into 15,000 colleges, schools, research centers and nonprofit institutions.

TIAA-CREF has some of the poorest long-term investment results in the nation. TC only has eight mutual funds with 10-year records: its growth fund has a 10-year performance record of 3.6 percent, its balanced fund has a 6.8 percent 10-year annual return while its bond fund’s 10-year average return is 5.6 percent and its best-performing funds, a real estate fund, has a 9.8 percent 10-year return.

TC’s other four funds have 10-year annual returns of less than 7 percent. Well those 10-year returns don’t butter my bagel or blow my whistle. And those returns are before annual 1 percent management fees paid by many TC 403(b) plans. But what does a teacher know about returns?

However, if you’re a teacher you should know that TIAA-CREF’s retirement annuity has a sizzling 5.9 percent 10-year return. Well pass the hoecake, hominy stew and sassafras tea, my two dogs Catfish and Cornbread can do better than 5.9 percent wearing blindfolds and earplugs.

TC has taken on 15 or so new funds with limited two- and five-year performance records, which are insulting to knowledgeable investors. As you know, long-term past performance is critical in selecting mutual funds. And because I always examine a fund’s 10- to 20-year record, the performance of the funds recommended in this column make those TC funds smell like swamp mud.

However, TC believes its clients are dumber than a bag of bowling shoes because they expect you folks to select funds with limited performance records to serve you for the best of your financial life. That’s pure unbridled arrogance and unacceptably disrespectful.

TC had over $2 billion in net income from you folks in 2006. Some cynics suggest that they make sizable annual donations to the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors who approve and support your 403(b) plans. Those contributions keep the doors closed to better competitors. Certainly Dodge & Cox, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity have 10- and 20-year records and the performance of their funds outshines, by orders of magnitude, the trash offered to you by TC. And certainly the annual fees of Fidelity, etc., are a lot less than those enormous fees you pay to TC.

You can move your 403(b) to an IRA at any brokerage firm, which should solve your accounting fiasco and the expanded choice of funds would give you better performance. It’s time to take the politics out of pension plan business and give performance and profits to the participants. Two billion dollars a year is a lot of vigorish to be earned by a nonprofit organization that claims its dedication to providing retirement security to those in the teaching profession. TIAA-CREF’s performance, its perverted back office, its $2 billion of annual income, the huge salaries and perks paid to TC’s administrators, its poor choice of investment alternatives and high cost are officious and insulting to its captive participants.

I suggest that you and your dozen dissatisfied professors ring Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Dodge & Cox, etc. and ask them how you can exit from the iron grip of the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association-College Retirement Equity Fund.

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 1416, Boca Raton, FL 33429 or e-mail him at [email protected].

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avatar 53 Anonymous December 10, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Dear Friends,

I recently made a post referencing problems I WAS having with TIAA-CREF, and I would like to share the outcome of my case in the hopes that my course of action might work for others:

After two months of wrangling with TIAA-CREF, I was finally able to get a portion of my money. When I called to get the rest, the company told me that they had made a mistake and that it would be 12-15 business days before they could send out the rest of the funds. I knew from my previous interaction with them that they have a system in place to “walk through� payment requests and to get them processed in 3-5 business days. I pushed for the 3-5 day process.

To make a long story short, I told the customer service phone rep to send a message to his supervisor informing him that as soon as I hung up the phone I was going to follow up with the SEC regarding the complaint I filed against TIAA-CREF (I gave them the name of the staff attorney and the file number for my complaint).

You can file a complaint against TIAA-CREF with the SEC at the following link: http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.

The outcome was that the balance of my money was in my checking account in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, it was seemingly impossible to get anyone at the company to do anything that would help me or resolve my case. But after mentioning the SEC, I received at least two calls from TIAA-CREF employees following up –finally—on my case letting me know how sorry they were.

Do not settle for what TIAA-CREF tells you!!!! File your complaint with the SEC. Then call them and give them a file number.

Good Luck!!
Ed

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avatar 54 Anonymous December 11, 2007 at 10:24 am

To be fair, Berko’s article sounds pretty one-sided. I found a link to TIAA-CREF’s response at

http://www.tiaa-cref.org/about/press/about_us/releases/pressrelease218.html

Check it out.

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avatar 55 Anonymous December 11, 2007 at 3:03 pm

With reference to the link posted by “Rob”: Can you tell us, sir, that you are not an employee or paid flack for TIAA-CREF?

With reference to my post of March 8, 2007, I ultimately received resolution after filing a complaint with the National Association of Securities Dealers. TIAA-CREF never did give me the courtesy of a response to any of my requests, but lo and behold, more than $5000 in long-missing contributions were credited to my account about two weeks after I filed the complaint. To this date, my employer has been totally unsuccessful in getting TIAA-CREF to provide records supporting the dates for which the contributions of me and my other colleagues who experienced long delays were credited, which were requested because it is impossible otherwise to assure everyone that their contributions were properly credited. TTIAA-CREF’s service remains unconscionably poor.

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avatar 56 Anonymous December 14, 2007 at 1:03 am

as another former t-c employee with 10 years in their customer service, I can share a lot about the inner workings of getting money in and out.

when i “left” the company (practically involuntary) the new ceo (a complete piece of work from merrill lynch – nuff said) completely demoralized the entire company with his changes. the changes effectively caused anyone in upper management with a brain to be replaced by high paid puppets with no clue. he basically replaced clerks with tons of experience to run things smoothly for unmotivated low paid clerks to push paper.

reading the comments about getting money out being troublesome is disturbing. before i left,when forms received are approved, money is sent within 3 days or less. sometimes getting money out the first time can be delayed for misc issues related to error on forms completion, employer confirmation of termination of employment, or t-c data entry error. fixing some the human errors by employee, employer, or tiaa-cref is easy on a manual basis can be resolved relatively quickly. but processing millions of transactions on an automated is necessary and cost effectively if the programming isnt jacked up. simply put the ceo isn’t owning up to the problems and is absurb for him to still have his job and to be paid a huge bonus for non-results. the worst part is that if fired he would still be paid too much money.

fyi-imo moving your money to fidelity and the like is not necessarily any better.

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avatar 57 Anonymous July 12, 2009 at 11:38 am

Hi,

We are having difficulty getting TIAA to honor my Father’s internet designation because his ex-wife is contesting it. Funny thing is they honored it for his life insurance policy. Any hints? Thank you, Bill

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avatar 58 Anonymous January 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Is there any way former employees can move their money?

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avatar 59 Anonymous January 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm

My problem with TIAA-CREF was simply that my investments were performing *extremely* poorly, not quite losing money, but not necc. MAKING money. I was told that my institutional agreement forbade me from withdrawing and rolling over my money (for about a decade I have been getting this info). Alas in Dec 07 I called again and asked if there was a way to roll my crappy performing TC funds over to an IRA. I was told I could take the funds out and instantly requested forms to do so. I got my funds out in about two weeks worth of BS back and forth with TC and my institution and rolled then into my Fidelity account where I’ve already seen tangible gains.

The lesson here: Others who are told that they cannot roll over their funds need to get that in writing! TC sucks for investing!

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avatar 60 Anonymous January 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm

um, i just saw the comment from “another former t-c employee” that “moving your money to fidelity and the like is not necessarily any better.” is completely wrong. I trade with fidelity and LOVE, LLOOVVEE, love them. My account has gained 32% THIS year alone! TC funds made 3% in 12 years. go figure.

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avatar 61 Anonymous January 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm

A couple of notes from a former employee:

Because of all of the problems that many of you are experiencing, working at TC was a nightmare, but I won’t go into that.

Here are a couple of points to remember:

****Yes, the top management screwed up this company badly. Morale is low and it’s true that the phone consultants (I was one) are almost totally helpless and BLAMELESS for the situation. I’ve submitted requests time and time again, over and over and if it does get done, it takes weeks or months. It’s the computer system, mainly. If you had a problem, file a complaint with the SEC. Complaining to a ‘supervisor’ does no good. They know how bad it is and take complaints all day long. It won’t go anywhere. Send a complaint to the SEC and a copy to TC. They are required to respond and keep the info.

*****DO NOT put money into the TIAA Traditional (Guaranteed) account unless you realize that you cannot take money out or transfer it at any time. It must be done (most commonly) over a 10-annual payment (9 years and a day). That is if the balance is over $2,000.
None of the other funds are like that, just this one. You would be amazed at the people that do not know this. This fund is like a bank CD. The funds are ‘locked’. And it’s true, there is NO WAY to make the $$ transfer faster. NONE. Even employees have to go through the 10-annual payment process.

****There are restrictions on moving your funds from your account at TC. THAT IS NOT TIAA-CREF’s POLICY!!! –> It was set up that way by the institution (your employer or former employer). If you leave that employer, in MOST (not all) cases, you can transfer your funds. It is the EMPLOYER that makes these restrictions.

*****If you still working for the same employer and are having $$ troubles, do not get a hardship withdrawal. It’ll kill you in taxes. Ask & see if you can get a loan. The rates are excellent and there’s NO tax penalty (as long as you pay it back). Here’s a SECRET — your funds are held in the Guaranteed account as collateral. YOU STILL EARN INTEREST ON THE FUNDS YOU BORROWED! So… you may be paying 5% on the loan, but your collateral is still making something, usually about 3-4%.

****If you want more control, TC does have IRAs (if you are available to roll funds).

Even though I hated my time there, TC is the cheapest (in my opinion) of all of the big-guys. Check the fees at Fidelity and others and charges for help/consulting. It’s a huge difference. (TC is for the most part, run as a not-for-profit.)

*****TC offers FREE asset allocation and retirement guidance services!! (If your employer allows them.) Use them! They will also help with investments elsewhere – NOT just the ones at TC! They do not advertise this service, but you can ask about it & see if you are eligible (your employer must approve). Fidelity and others CHARGE BIG $$ for this service and it’s 100% free at TC. The counselors are good.

*****I do not understand the problem with their investments. The TC funds are excellent, if you are in the right fund and know what you want. (Set an appointment with your LOCAL representative) – all free. They also offer mutual funds now, and are adding things all of the time.

*****NOBODY at TIAA-CREF is on commission. NOBODY. You really do get honest advice.

*****Remember, the phone consultants already have heard your same problem 1000 times and it wasn’t their fault. It’s frustrating, for you and them, but they can really only do so much until they finally spend the $$ to fix the systems. The horror stories are just amazing.

*****It’s really sad. I wanted to work for them. Great investments, expanding services, not-for-profit (in finance!) business model, NO commissioned salespersons, all of that… Unfortunately, I hated life taking all of those complaint calls. I was cursed at, you name it… and I understood the frustration. I did. Couldn’t take it anymore.

When they fix their problems, they’ll be #1 again.
Until then, it can be a nightmare dealing with transfers and such. However, the investments are great and the fees are low. If you do not need to take out funds, etc… you should have no problem. When they make a mistake, they fix it… it just takes forever. But, they will “make you whole” and backdate everything. Don’t worry about that… they WILL fix everything, when they cen get to it.

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avatar 62 Anonymous February 5, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I suggest that everyone check the beneficiaries of their retirement accounts, I just discovered that mine has been somehow changed from my wife to my estate. This was NEVER the case.

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avatar 63 Anonymous February 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I continue to have problems with TIAA-CREF. Last year, 2007, I started my minimum distribution. I sent them the completed forms to begin my one time annual distribution on January 1 of each year. It took TC several months to finally get me my distribution. I complained but nothing happened. In 2008, I received distributions for two accounts: for one it was several days late, and for the second, two weeks. I have not received distributions from three other accounts.

When I called TC, the person said the payments on three accounts were pending, but that I would have to talk to my “wealth manager”. He told me the problem was with the computer problem, the same answer i received a year ago, and one that seems to be given to all people who complain. I received a message from her saying they were having to research the problem, and she would contact me on January 28, 2008. It never happened. I wrote a service representative who assured me that they took complaints seriously, but did nothing to help me. She gave me a number for Resources and Resolution that was not a working number according to the telephone company.I called aother person to ask who I could call to get results, and about the Resources and Resolution department or person. He had never heared of such a person or department, and said the only person that could help me was my “wealth manager”.

I tried another email to the service department, but got the message that my complaint had already been received and there was no need to write again. They take complaints seriously, they told me again. After futile tries, I finally wrote again to my wealth manager–by now, she was probably, or should have been, called my poverty manager.In the interim, I received a message on ‘february 2nd, telling me that the records showed my distributions had been made (they had not).

My wealth manager called me on February 4, but could not give me any information, and said she would give me telephone updates.I said I wanted email updates, but whe refused–I suppose they do not want to put anything in writing they do not have to–and I noticed on my 2007 tax forms that TIAA-CREF says they reserve the right to correct errors. But they seem to have many errors, but not many corrections. It is now February 6, 2008, five weeks after I was supposed to have received my distribution, and I am no closer to receiving it–or being told anything of significance about it–than I WAS WEEKS AGO. My wife, who has her own accounts, had a problem last year, and could not get it resolved, finally gave up even though it probably cost her a $1,000 in doing so.

TIAA-CREF seems to believe it is immune from any type of sanctions or accountability because the same problems continue to show up year after year, and nothing seems to change. Part of the problems come, perhaps, from the fact that TIAA-CREF had a monlpoly over university accounts in the past in that there was no choice when I started teaching except to join TC. After it had to allow for diversification, the bad, incompetent management continued, and the lower level personnel seem to have taken on the same incompetency, aided and abetted no doubt by low morale and incompetency in middle management as well. And now we are stuck with a downward market, and the liklihood that it is impossible to get money out of TIAA-CREF because of incompetency. IT IS A DISMAL SITUATION. I hope the person who wanted more specific information about problems a year or so ago is still reading this website.

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avatar 64 Anonymous February 8, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I can’t wait to get my money out of TIAA. I was happy with them 7-10 years ago, but they blew a Roth conversion for me last year and turned my life into a nightmare.

Last week I talked with a wonderful rep on the phone to try to fix the problem. Unfortunately, all she could do was put in a “research request” and suggest I call back in 7-10 days to check the status. I asked if I could talk to her specifically again but was told their system doesn’t really work that way and that I’d have to take whoever picks me up in the call queue.

Today I talked with the most insulting rep. I’ve ever experienced. He literally laughed when I said I was told to check in in 7-10 days. “It’s ridiculous to expect us to respond that quickly. We’re a big company with over 3 million clients.”

I’ve got the names of the folks I’ve dealt with, but unfortunately I can’t find anyone higher up to a.) solve my problem, and b.) reward the good reps and punish the bad.

I wanted out over a year ago when I started having problems. With this mess gets cleared, I am *so* done with them.

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avatar 65 Anonymous February 8, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Does anyone know what’s up with the recent letter from TC dated Jan. 17, 2008 where TC claims that expenses from May 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008 were underestimated compared to the “actual costs”? The letter clearly indicates that a major revenue shortfall of unspecified origin has resulted in “revised estimates [that] reflect higher actual expenses” for many accounts. I spoke with a supervisor who emphatically stated that funds would not be retroactively taken out of my accounts even though I hold those that are on the list. But what he said made no sense, because the whole purpose of the letter was to inform participants that actual expenses were higher than estimated. I felt like he was trying to confuse the issue so that I would just let it die. I am really steamed about this, and it seems like a lot of money is involved in this “adjustment”. What is also annoying is that TIAA-CREF doesn’t think that it is important to clearly state how much “adjustment” was made to my account.

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avatar 66 Anonymous February 9, 2008 at 12:13 pm

TIAA-CREF built a new data center last year in the Denver area that cost a bundle.

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avatar 67 Anonymous February 14, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Problem similar to many above. Promises but no action. Can not get first payment of 10 year pay out annuity. Have been trying since Nov. 07, it is now Feb. 08.

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avatar 68 Anonymous March 4, 2008 at 10:56 am
avatar 69 Anonymous March 11, 2008 at 11:22 am

I have been try to get my paper done and every time i call they tell you some then that you have done wrong when it them that have not done any thing at all for you. It make you so angry when the are the one that are doing the wrong thing . I seen in paperwork and they said that it has to be together for them to work on it and then call yesterday and they said that need new paper work.

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avatar 70 Anonymous March 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm

My husband and I have been trying for the last two weeks to get a mistake by TIAA-Cref straightened out in time to properly file our 2007 taxes. Seven phone calls later, we do not have a resolution of our problem. We are waiting to hear from them again on Tuesday, 3/18. If they haven’t corrected what they all admit was their error (paying taxes on a rollover), we will definitely notify the board of directors and the SEC. If we could withdraw all of our funds now (not the kind of account where we are allowed to do so), we would. It’s been a nightmare and this is the second year in a row they have put us through this. They are incompetent beyond belief!

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avatar 71 Anonymous March 21, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Planning on moving my Principal Simple IRA into TIAA-Cref account. Is it any worse than any other major investment firm? They are all under-regulated (thanks to Bush) but is there any reason to stay with what I have?
Cheers.

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avatar 72 Anonymous April 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

After trying for two months, by certified mail and phone, to get T-C to correct a simple error on their part, I went to a branch office for some face-time. Seven days letter, I received confirmation that the correction had been made. Maybe this is the only way to deal with them.

Let’s hope the new management will be able to clean up Allison’s mess.

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avatar 73 Anonymous April 5, 2008 at 2:01 pm

What’s wrong with Principal?

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avatar 74 Anonymous April 8, 2008 at 12:24 am

TIAA Cref recently began administering the CalSTRS 403(b) accounts. My wife requested to roll over some funds to CalSTRS to purchase service credit. They ignored the instructions in the acceptance letter (and the enclosed envelope) and mailed the check to their own address! They got that address off of their own form! It took one month and about 7 phone calls to get that fixed. In the end, the check was received but they somehow shorted it by 18 cents.

Then we checked the latest quarterly statement on the web site. (We are signed up for email notification but never have received one.) Two of the contributions were not credited. In the previous quarter one was missing. The representative said they were received but reversed, and he could not see why. They are working on that one now. I have CalSTRS involved too.

Their web site is not too hot either. They have the wrong phone number for CalSTRS, their big new client. I wanted to rebalance but the only option is to do it once a year on your birthday. I’m not impressed. Compared to mine, it’s rudimentary.

Everybody seems to want to help solve these problems but it seems so difficult to fix things. The machine makes a mistake. All they can do is send and instruction to make the machine correct itself, in 7-10 business days. But then it doesn’t. Send another instruction and wait 5 business days; rinse and repeat.

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avatar 75 Anonymous April 9, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Anyone know when the Quarterly statements are to be expected? I was told they had a legal date when they are to be postmarked and mailed? I have yet to receive mine this quarter. Last January mine took about 3 weeks to get to me. There was an article about this in the Denver paper and they blamed it on the snow. However, no one else took 3 weeks to get anything from other companies?

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avatar 76 Anonymous April 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I just read about and saw that Allison is out. So I did some research on the new CEO. Here is some interesting reading from the WSJ.
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/04/03/harvard-jd-roger-ferguson-tapped-as-new-tiaa-cref-head/?mod=WSJBlog

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avatar 77 Anonymous April 30, 2008 at 11:30 pm

I have never read so much amusing stuff in my life..
TIAA-CREF is one of the oldest, most well respected financial services company in the US. Most of what has been posted here is just simply untrue. The company had a major systems overhaul from 2003 through 2007. Yes, that did cause some problems regrettably with transactional types of business like withdrawals and transfers etc.. The systems needed to be overhauled because the company tried to continue to plug holes in a Legacy system that was 40 years old.. The company wanted to offer a larger menu of products and services and this systems overhaul was a necessary evil. Herb Allison made tough decisions to make TIAA a company that could compete in this market with the Fidelity’s and the Vanguard’s eating away at TIAA-CREF market share every day. TIAA has had some growing pains but there is a light at the end of the tunnel Most of what the folks on here have written about performance is untrue. TIAA CREF has several 4 and 5 star funds with Morningstar and it credit rating through S&P, Moody’s and Fitch are AAA.. Yes people… AAA! The CREF Stock Variable account has average over 11% since its inception in 1952 and has a measly expense ratio of 39 bps a year. We have several great money managers. You know why TIAA wasnt hurt by the sub prime crisis? Because our money mangers saw it coming long before it happened and unloaded. Talk to most people on your campuses and research hospitals or museums who have invested with TIAA for many years and they will tell you how great a company it is and the fortunes TIAA-CREF has helped them realize with investing long term for their retirement.

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avatar 78 Anonymous April 30, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Ahh.. RUDI..

Do you know what ERISA is? I suggest you look it up.. Your spouse needs to sign the spousal waiver after you sign the withdrawal paperwork for the amount you wish to receive. Your spouse is basically signing off that she is aware that you are withdrawing funds from a ERISA sponsored retirement account and she is waiving her right to any survivor benefits on that withdrawal. It is the law. The reason her signature has to be notarized after you sign, is that she has to agree to the amount your wanting to withdraw and the notary needs to see that.

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avatar 79 Anonymous May 1, 2008 at 11:22 am

After my comment posted on November 21, 2007, I decided to stay the course and give TIAA/CREF one more chance, since they had apparently completed their reorganization and made important changes in their leadership. I recently made 2 separate withdrawals; one on line, the other requested by fax. The response time was extremely fast, and the funds deposited/mailed in record times. This was a distinct change and improvement in service from prior experiences. Those of us who have problems should report them to the highest possible level. On the other hand, when we are well served, it seems appropriate to acknowledge it.

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avatar 80 Anonymous May 1, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Is “CREF for Life” (#70) suggesting that those of us reporting service problems are making them up? I have been a T-C participant for over 30 years and fully agree that it USED TO BE a great company. Maybe, under the new management, it will be again someday. Comment #72 gives me hope.

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avatar 81 Anonymous May 1, 2008 at 11:15 pm

F ROBERTS:

I am not suggesting that everyone on this thread is making it up at all. TIAA-CREF had a very rough stretch in which we are still going through, although things are certainly better. It was nightmarish at times with all of our systems issues. Like I said, there were a lot of transactional type problems, like withdrawals, rollovers, trades etc. TIAA wound up damaging its reputation a bit, but the technology changes were completely necessary to keep TIAA a strong organization. Some of the posts here are completely untrue. For someone to say that they made 32% at Fidelity and their TIAA funds made 3% in 12 years is complete garbage. They had to have been in a money market account all that time, if that were true and had no idea what they are doing.. Read about how many funds TIAA has that are 4 and 5 star through Morningstar.. TIAA-CREF has the highest credit ratings in the industry! AAA across the board. Every single TIAA consultant has a 4 year degree and many have CFP or CHFC designations, many have MBAs and many are series 7 registered and have the series 65. To say that TIAA consultants and wealth management advisors are idiots and incompetent is just complete rubbish. What a joke. TIAA-CREF is a great organization and is back on track. Are wealth management group has been rated one of teh best in the industry. Dont believe everything you read about in this blog. There are a quite a few bitter people that experienced trouble and the company as a whole regrets all of it. We have 3 million participants and the truth of the matter only a small percentage were affected.

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avatar 82 Anonymous June 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm

As a former Wealth Management Advisor, I can say with complete confidence that the ” for the greater good” slogan is rubbish. I hate to burst your bubble by Financial Advisors that have quality designations such as CFP’s etc leave the company about two years after joining it. Quality people don’t stay because there is more money to be made outside the company. In return, the advisors that stay are of lessor quality. You don’t need to believe me, it’s not my money there.

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avatar 83 Anonymous May 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Your loyalty to your employer is admirable, but you might want to re-examine your contention about “every single TIAA consultant.” I recently met a very nice young fellow whose title was “Wealth Management Advisor.” When I googled him to find out something about his qualifications, all I could find was that as of the fall semester, 2005 he was attending a community college. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not suggesting that he is an “idiot” or “incompetent”; in fact he was on the dean’s list. But if I were looking for someone to guide me through the present economic storms…

Since you are apparently an insider, perhaps you can answer a question I have about TIAA’s consultants. They reportedly do not work on commission but on salary plus an “incentive” based on customer service. Just how does that work? What are the metrics?

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avatar 84 Anonymous June 13, 2010 at 11:15 pm

The metrics are no different then a chop shop brokerage firm. Don’t let them have you believe that your best interests are being served. As a Wealth Management advisor, I was told that “people want to believe in us, just tell them what they want to hear and have them transfer all the outside accounts over.” TIAA-CREF gets paid to move the accounts, and more importantly, the game plan is to bait and switch to a managed product. Seriously, I have been advising for just over 20 years, I’m a CFP and a darn good and ethical advisor. I’m proud of my commitment to my advisors, TIAA-CREF is misleading people that don’t know the depth of good investment options and quality advice makes a difference to the bottom line.

If you honestly believe that TIAA-CREF appreciates your business. Ask yourself why they do all these “Free” services. It’s because they are dying and they need to collect balances to make up for the lost of market share. What happens when companies are stressed? Their clients pay for it through many channels including fees, mistakes and false sense of quality.

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avatar 85 Anonymous May 3, 2008 at 9:24 am

I’m happy to see that you believe that T-C is doing well. On the other hand, in April TIAA-CREF posted a service update on its website that indicates that the system change is not complete and that there are still service problems. I’m not sure why you, as an employee, think that the changes are complete.
My contacts indicate that there are still problems but there has been progress.

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avatar 86 Anonymous May 4, 2008 at 10:40 am

I am quite aware of the law. It is the process that was SILLY. Trust me. Had you been in my place, you would have been similarly annoyed by the way that was handled.

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avatar 87 Anonymous May 10, 2008 at 12:41 am

After reading comments on T-C, I find that my experiences with them are not unique. I withdrew funds in an emergency two years ago and it took a month of calling everyday to finally get them. A three page, single space letter of complaint received a boiler plate response with no mention of possible corrective measures or even acknowledgemnt of the subject of the problems. As the bulk of my investment was with after-tax dollars, I feel I could have made a wiser choice. Now I want all my money out of this organization but like others, I find that a good portion is in a TIAA Traditional account with a 10% disbursemetn over ten years. Moreover, everyone that one speaks to has a different answer for the same questions. In the previous attempts to get a straight answer I asked the person if he was in the continental United States. He was, and was the first person to give me the information that I needed in a straight forward manner and encouraged me to write the complaint letter. This was at the end of a month of calling to find our where my expected funds were. Wish I had read the other complaints first, I would have taken all my funds two years ago. I started making contributions over twenty five years ago and I could not have anticipated this. I do hope that the service is better as noted in a posting, but if my recent inquiry by phone is any indication of improvement I have faint hope. The information given was convoluted, hard to follow and in terms of forms, numbers were either transposed or did not exist.
In retrospect it would seem that it was designed to discourage contributors from accessing funds.

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avatar 88 Anonymous May 13, 2008 at 1:19 pm

God help those who have to deal with Colorado. They cannot handle the simplest transaction without piling error on top of error. What should have been the simplest of transactions has turned into the biggest mess, and this isn’t the first time. No one tells the same story. Past problems only were addressed after I contacted New York. Thanks for the SEC, Board of Directors, and other links. I plan to use them.

I would love to see these guys get nailed in some sort of class action suit.

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avatar 89 Anonymous May 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Financially educate yourself before doing anything with your money. Just because TIAA offers free advice, that does not mean that it is good (or necessarily bad) for you. As many of the previous posters have experienced, TIAA sells annuities and once you are in, it is very tough to get out and your return on investment depends on what you are invested in. Annuities are not for everyone, but if your company only offers a 403b plan, you need to understand how they work and how you can get the most return on your investment.

As for the comment by “Cref for life”- bravo, that was a nice sales pitch. Firstly, the average stock fund generates a 10% return over the long term and one can get better expense ratios (as well as lower turnover rates with many Vanguard funds). While Morningstar is a good rating company, just because a fund is four or five-star rated, does not mean that it will make you money. Morningstar bases its ratings on past performance and in the investing world; the past doesn’t necessarily dictate the future (e.g. look at 5 star rated PTRAX- one thinks that they are invested in an interm bond fund, when it is just a high priced money market with about 85% cash) . The AAA rating by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch refer to the quality of fixed-income investments within the fund, not about the fund itself. As many smart investors know, you only want to invest in AAA bonds when you are trying to preserve capital (you are retired or will be retired soon) because being that they are the safest, one gets very little ROI. Lastly, are you sure that TIAA was unscathed from the sub-prime problem? The last I checked, the REIT and stock funds were down a lot and many people are hesitant funding their retirement accts- everyone was hurt by the sub-prime crisis-whether directly or indirectly.

As I reiterate, I suggest that anyone coming to this site for information about the problems with TIAA educate yourself before investing. Just a simple understanding for what and how an annuity works will be beneficial. If you are in NY and still feel uncomfortable or hesitant about investing with them, go across the street to the Fidelity branch and listen to what their advisors say before making a decision. For those who are thinking about taking their money out of TIAA, understand what a 90-24 transfer is and how much of your investment you will be surrendering to TIAA-sometimes it may be beneficial to keep some money at TIAA and allocate the rest somewhere else.

As for my personal opinion, I would invest elsewhere- Vanguard, Fidelity, etc because don’t think the new CEO is going to make TIAA any better, especially after his tenure at Swiss Re and one cannot even get through when calling the New York office.

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avatar 90 Anonymous May 14, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Joe: What is a “90-24 transfer”? I’ve never encountered the term. Thanks for your post.

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avatar 91 Anonymous May 15, 2008 at 12:05 am

Froberts,
A 90-24 is a non taxable direct transfer of 403b monies to another 403b carrier. Problem is if you are still employed, your employer will most likely dictate who you can do the 90-24 to.

Joe,
Sales Pitch? I think not. I speak only of fact.
AAA ratings from Moody’s, S&P, et al also are the prime indicator of a company’s financial strength and claims paying ability. We are not talking about funds here, we are talking about financial strength. TIAA-CREF is only 1 of 4 insurance companies in the United States with AAA ratings from all the major ratings comapnies. This is huge, because in the insurance industry there is no FDIC. Remember Conseco? So youre not getting what I am saying..

Secondly, youre wrong about about average rate of return. The average equity fund returns 7.7 percent over a 30 year period. TIAA-CREF’s expense ratios are every bit as good as Vanguards for the most part.

Thirdly, TIAA has one annuity account (Traditional) that is difficult to get out of because of the illiquidity of the long term investments that it invests in such as long term treasury bonds etc. The TIAA Traditional is a guaranteed fixed account. It is only illiquid in a retirement annuity (RA) and (GRA)contract. It requires a 10 payment over 9 year payout. The liquid TIAA Traditional account pays less interest in an IRA or Supplemental TDA account but it is liquid at any time.. All other CREF accounts and T/C mutual funds are fully liquid at anytime, as long as the employer’s cash rules allow for it. Most institutions are fuly cashable.. SO please dont say that TIAA-CREF annuities are hard to get out of.. They are not, and your statement is simply not true. And by the way, TIAA does not have sales or surrender charges on their CREF annuities.

And lastly, yes, TIAA-CREF came out of the sub prime crisis virtually unscathed. We have some of the best money managers in this country.

Please post your questions and concerns on here and I will look at this site from time to time to help you all with questions and concerns.

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avatar 92 Anonymous May 19, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Hello,

There are a couple thinks I would like to learn about TIAA-CREF and can’t seem to find. I am hoping that TIAA-CREF employees might fill in the gaps.

First…for a new employee, what are the paid time off benefits? Please presume director level.

Second….would anyone know general pay ranges? Or does it depend too much on the job to even guess? I would be interested in manager, director, and VP.

Third…what percent of salary do people get as a bonus? Again, maybe for manager, director, VP if you are able.

Last…would you be able to tell me the 401K match please?

Thank you!

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avatar 93 Anonymous May 19, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Hi f roberts, as “Cref for Life” stated, a 90-24 transfer is a way of transferring your 403b to another financial institution and your employer will dictate where the funds can go. You should find out about it as it may be a great financial strategy for you.

“Cref for Life”: I do apologize that I misconstrued your statement about the AAA rating, however my conclusion is still the same-it has nothing to do with the performance of the funds and whether I will make money investing in TC funds. The way you are referring to it, the AAA rating has to do with TC’s ability to pay out its’ claims and obligations and is based on the company’s past performance. As I stated in my prior post-smart investors know that the “past doesn’t necessarily dictate the future” in investing and for young teacher, such as myself, who has about 30 years until retirement, this rating is meaningless. When it is coupled with Morningstar ratings it usually is a “sales pitch” (all that is needed is a little disclosure on the bottom of the post to inform the reader to read the prospectus for risks, fees, etc, before investing).

I think that you are mistaken in your ROI rates and are giving me the average for a domestic equity fund, not a global fund (one that invests in the US and foreign countries) as the CREF variable stock fund is. Either way, past performance is no guarantee that the investor will achieve that rate in the future. However, what is guaranteed is that fund fees will erode the gains. TC funds cannot compare to the low fees (or low turnover rates) of Vanguard (I’m referring to actively traded funds and not the ultra low fees/turnover rates of Vanguard’s index funds or admiral shares).

Also, I still stand by my conviction that it is tough to get out of TC. This is because besides the annuity that you outlined in a prior post, the investor has to deal with incompetence-transactions that should take a few business days, take weeks. I also refer to the TC representatives that can’t help you, transfer you to different branches around the US and the rudeness of the people who you are transferred to (like the caller intentionally wanted to be transferred to these people knowingly that they cannot help him/her). I think that this mentality that the client should be thankful that he/she is able to invest in TC stems from the top executives down and needs to be changed. TC should be thankful that the investor is putting his/her money with them.

So as I reiterate from my prior post, I suggest that everyone reading this board educate yourself financially (a little goes a long way) so that you can see through transparent “sales pitches”, understand why the free advice of putting an annuity (a tax deferred product) within a tax deferred account (403b, 401k) is bad advice and how not to let hidden fees (like transaction costs from turnover rate) erode your gains. Also, a little financial knowledge will allow one to make rational grievances to one’s HR department because unfortunately we all don’t have employers that look out for the best interests of their employees, like the University of Minnesota, who dumped TIAA-CREF last year because of “inaccurate record keeping” and poor customer service.

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avatar 94 Anonymous May 19, 2008 at 11:41 pm

I really need some help here. I worked for a company for over 13 years. I got laid off in 2001. I was told when I signed up for TIAA Cref that if my job terminated I could leave my money in there or take it out completely. Nobody ever told me about the problems with the Traditional. I was never told by my Human Resources Dept or by TIAA Cref that I had 120 days after termination to take my money. In the meantime, in 2002 I contacted them because a young family member died and I thought I could take my money and help with the funeral. Wrong! Then in 2005 we purchased a new home and I asked again, no only annual annuity. Well in 2006 I got diagnosed with some major medical problems and it has been all downhill since then. I have fallen behind in all my bills and really need my money. I want to know if there is anyway possible to get my money. This is my money, and I need it fast. What can I do. They never explained anything about my plan, I have 2 accounts, just found out I had 2 this year. They are terrible to deal with, they give you different information all the time. I went to an accountant today who is going to try and help. What are my chances. My next step if I get nowhere will be to contact my local Senators office. Any advice, I am having a real hardship here. I am seeing an eye specialist montlhly, rheumatologist and now an onocologist. What am I supposed to do.

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avatar 95 Anonymous May 28, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Jade,

I am really sorry to hear of your health predicament.
There are ways to get your funds out of a Group Retirement Annuity in the TIAA Traditional. Assuming your former employers plan is cashable, you can do a 5 Year fixed period and liquidate the account entirely. You can also get a retirement transition benefit of 10% up front as a lump sum. If you looked at your GRA contract, you would have seen the 120 day after termination lump sum provision. You all need to understand that you need to read the contract before contributing to a plan. Your benefits officer should have explained how the TIAA Traditional investment works or you should have read the prospectuses first. I am sorry about you illness, and I will be more than happy to answer any questions for you. Dont go hiring an accountant.. This isnt rocket science.. Going to a Senator will not help either.. Big Waste of time.. TIAA has been sued hundreds of times regarding the illiquidity of TIAA Traditional. And everytime the state insurance commisioner throws it out..
Let me know if I can help you further.

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avatar 96 Anonymous June 4, 2008 at 6:16 pm

TC is not the company it use to be. Depending on the manager you have and the HR rep you get, when your laid off or let go you can get a different outcome. For instance. You either get all your accrued vacation. Or they will take out some for the year or carry over from the previous. Or not even pay you whats accrued. I see they are staffing this site now so who knows what will come back.

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avatar 97 Anonymous June 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm

In May 2007, I submitted forms to have my annual payouts sent directly to my IRA account with Fidelity. I spoke to numerous counselors [over seven] and each provide new and different information. The process required the submission of “six” complete and notarized forms for each of my three accounts. At one point they cut a check payable to me that had to be returned. I was assured the problem was corrected and checks were sent to my IRA.

In May 2008, I thought to check on the payouts for 2008 and learned they were in the process of sending them to me again instead of my IRA. I was told the 2007 paper work only addressed the 2007 payouts. There was nothing in their files that addressed future years. I again submitted new forms, one for each account. On June 9th I received a note from Fidelity that TIAA-CREF put a stop payment on one check without notificationn to me. I learned after repeated calls they had issued the check with the wrong amount [they withheld taxes and did not apply over due interest]. I also learned they, without authorization, re-invested the other two payouts in TIAA. No one could provide a definitive response on how and when these issues would be resolved.

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avatar 98 Anonymous June 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

I am wondering why after my mothers passing is it extremely difficult to reach competent employees of TC to check the status of paperwork that was supposed to be mailed out within the month she passed. Its extremely frustrating when we are coping not only with the untimely loss of our mother but mounting funeral, lawyer fees ect. Does anyone have any suggestions of whom we should contact to file a legitimate complaint? I have been bounced from department to department for 2 months now. Thanks

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avatar 99 Anonymous June 18, 2008 at 5:31 pm

angsyr77,
If you’re within driving distance of a branch office, get some face time. That’s the only thing I’ve found that works.

Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your mother.

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avatar 100 Anonymous June 24, 2008 at 11:16 pm

This is going to be long and unbelievable, but it may help others.

Right now TIAA/CREF owes me about $30,000 — a whole year’s living expenses. They sent the checks to the wrong address, which they admit was a computer error.

Where all that money is I don’t know; they won’t get back to me on that. All I can find out is that the post office sent them back to them with a “not at this address” notification?

Even though TIAA/CFEF has my telephone number and e-mail address, they never contacted me when the checks were returned. Wouldn’t any responsible agency, knowing that the retired, non-working recipient is counting on the checks to pay bills, at least try to contact the person when a total of about $30,000 in checks were returned?

But that’s only the start.

Not long before that I tried to change a beneficiary. First, they sent me forms that had to be filled out and notarized. It should have been simple.

I did all that and sent them back. Then I was told they were the wrong forms. They sent out some more forms, which, again, I filled out, had notarized, and sent back.

Then they told me that these, too, were the wrong forms. So they sent out another set (the third set, if you are counting) and I had to do it all over again.

Before long the whole process had to start over again. (And, no, nothing was “questionable”; it should have all been simple and straightforward.)

This time it took most of a year of calls and letters — including registered and overnight letters, which they recommended “to speed things up.”

Each time when I would call to check after a few weeks, I would find that nothing had been done. Not only was it all ignored, but they never told me there was a problem.

About that time I read about the man who had died thinking that his retirement funds would go to his intended beneficiary. But the change had not been made and all the money went to his previously listed beneficiary, his ex-wife.

After about a year of telephone calls and letters and getting nowhere, I sat down with a lawyer and asked what I could do. (I had had a massive heart attack and needed to get this cleared up.) Given the beauracy of TIAA/CREF, his only suggeston was that I keep trying, which by then seemed like only a time-consuming, expensive, and hopeless effort.

At one point I totally “lost it” on one phone call, and maybe that caused them to kick upstairs to a level that I was never allowed to get to before. Someone called and apologized. Then after more forms, it appears that this was finally taken care of.

Shortly thereafter I decided that with this level of incompetence I had better pull my money — a sizable sum — out of TIAA/CREF. As you may know, you can’t just get your money; they make you take it out over about nine years. I knew I would take a hit on income tax, but I figured at least I would have my money.

Wrong.

Despite my repeated instructions on the proper address, the checks were sent to the wrong address. Again, I was never told there was a problem. It was up to me to find out what happened. As of now, I‘m still waiting on the money — a year’s living expenses that they admit they owe me.

At one point I thought that maybe direct deposit would solve the address problem so I requested a direct-deposit form at different times from two of their people. So, far, no form. But maybe I need to wait a few more weeks on that.

Any more when I go to McDonalds or Wal-Mart and see the older people working there, I wonder how many of them worked all their lives, or had spouses who worked all their lives paying into a teachers’ retirement fund only to find out that the money they were counting on “got lost somewhere.”

Be kind to those people; one of them may be me.

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avatar 101 Anonymous June 25, 2008 at 12:07 am

Duane22,

It took me over 6 weeks to get $26k out for hardship purposes last summer. My only resolution came from sending a polite letter to the board of trustees ([email protected]) clearly outlining the situation. I had a phone call within 4 hours of sending that email and had my money 48 hours after that. Good luck!

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avatar 102 Anonymous June 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm

It must do some good to be “seen” here, or maybe it was just coincidental. After I posted my letter about $30,000 being misdirected (etc., etc.), I got a call early the next morning — even before I was awake — saying “the check is in the mail.” I hope it is and with the right address.

I’ve also learned a couple things that maybe should be passed along. The web site for TIAA/CREF seems to have been vastly improved. (Even my lawyer couldn’t figure out the needed forms in the earlier version to try to help me.) So, if you haven’t registered for on-line service, that might be a way to go. At least all the forms, etc. are there.

I was asked about the man who died thinking that he had changed his beneficiary from his ex-wife to his children. There’s a moral here. Apparently he wasn’t good at keeping records and a photocopy of the request could not be found among his things. (He grew up in a time when if you requested something like that, you could count on it being done.) Of course my experience, and that of many others, proves otherwise. So keep copies of everything you send in and check to see if what you requested has really been done. Even if there’s a computer problem of some sort, your beneficiaries will have something to take to a judge or lawyer. But, of course, they will have to prove the date on the form.

Finally — I hope it is “finally” in my letters here — I need to note that the telephone counselors have all been very friendly and they’ve tried to be helpful. But the problem seems to be that they are sometimes getting conflicting and erroneous information. I also I get the feeling there is a major disconnect between these people and the other departments at TIAA/CREF and they can’t deliver on their promises.

It would be a great help if they got back to people on major requests instead of just leaving them in limbo and putting the responsibility on them to check to see if requested changes have been made. In this e-mail era it would be easy to send a “case closed” note. But we are left to assume “no news is good news,” when too often “no news” means that while have made the request, nothing has been done.

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avatar 103 Anonymous July 8, 2008 at 11:38 am

About two years ago, TC failed to deposit my monthly withdrawals for two months. I was told they were transitioning to a new computer system and having trouble. Evidently, they are still using this very lame excuse, because when my monthly withdrawal and directs deposit didn’t happen for July, I called and was told TC is “transitioning to a new computer system”.

Anyone know if there is a statutory time limit on how long a lame excuse like “new computer problem” can be used? I mean, at least you would think TC could come up with a new excuse. I’m thinking about bailing to Vanguard or Fidelity…. I don’t feel TC is reliable in managing even the most routine processes.

In the back of my mind, I wonder just how fast TC wants to get my (and other’s) retirement disbursement out. I mean, is it not to TC’s advantage to hold onto our money just as long as possible (due to computer glitches, of course)?

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avatar 104 Anonymous July 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm

In 1997 I took a 10 year payout that concluded last year of all TIAA funds in what I had, at that time, as one TIAA account with a former employer. In 2005 TIAA-CREF split that account into several accounts per some federal regulation. They put some of the TIAA funds in that account and did not pay them out as I instructed them to do in 1997. They claim that since they created these new accounts (to serve me better they said in a letter) that I would have to initiate another ten-year payout. I think this is incorrect and illegal. Anyone else had this problem?

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avatar 105 Anonymous July 16, 2008 at 7:36 am

I was a long term employee, who began my career with TIAA-CREF in New York back in 1989. I worked for many years in the companies Actuarial department, where we calculated and processed all of the complicated transactions that you read about throughout this forum.

For example, some of you have said that years of your contributions or your employer contributions were somehow “lost” – well I could figure out how much you should have based on when the funds were received, how much, and what fund you were allocated to at the time. This could include transfers, payouts, ect. We were ALL required at the time to learn the MANUAL calculations needed to determine the outcome if the systems/programs were to go down.

At the time, the majority of the employees at T/C were long term and devoted. We loved working for T/C and were very proud to say that we did. The turn-over rate was practically non-existent.

When they opened the Denver service center, a few core employees relocated, but the majority were new hires. As you could imagine, it took a long time to really learn the in’s and out’s of so many plans, calculations, rules, ect. So to replace that type of staff isn’t something that is done easily.

After 8 years in that role, I moved to the IT group as a Financial Ops Analyst. With my background in the legacy applications, I was well suited in my new role. I was part of a relatively new group if IT analysts that came from the Business Side, and could work effectively on both ends of the spectrum. Our group consisted of ALL the Business Analysts, Change Analysts, and Project Managers. We were the only group like this in the organization. We ran all of the IT projects in the company.

The company was in the midst of setting up shop in Charlotte NC, and many hundreds of dedicated staff relocated to the south, but at the same time, they began to hire new staff to the annuitization and payment operations center, at a considerably LOWER SALARY than the folks who had 10 – 15 years experience.

Just prior to this mainframe system overhaul, Mr. Allison took the reigns, and he thought it would be a good idea to not only displace the higher paid, tenured operations staff with new employees, but to also completely eliminate the entire IT Business Analysis Team in one fell swoop.

So hundreds of folks, who had relocated, who had experience with the legacy systems, who were experienced IT analysts, Project Managers, ect were displaced.

Who was going to run the systems conversion now? Well, they turned to the Business Line Managers. People who had absolutely no IT knowledge, no Project Management knowledge, Managers who had experience in managing PEOPLE not complex systems, the systems that hold your money, transfer your funds, send out your annuity payments, calculate your MDO requirements and distribution amounts, ect.

That is where all the horrors began. They eliminated all the folks who HAD THE knowledge and experience to drive this system platform conversion, and then asked the already heavily burdened operations Managers to take on the additional responsibility of leading IT changes.

It has been about 5 years since they displaced all this knowledge, and from what I hear from my friends still in the company, they have been miserable since the day Mr. Allison took over. Gone was the love for the company, gone was the devotion to service and excellence. In it’s place were hundreds of new employees who had no loyality to the OLD WAY of doing things. In it’s place for those who remained, was the constant fear that at any time they could be axed. People who were putting in 20+ hours of overtime a week, forced to do so to keep up with the work load or get fired (this was insinuated, never spoken outright), but also told that there was no money to pay them overtime. While Mr. Allison was paid millions and millions of dollars.

He ruined a once great place to work, completely ruined it. It didnt surprise me as I kept in touch with what was going on there during the platform conversion. How could they have possibly hoped to be successful at this endevor when they fired all of the folks who could have made it successful? We were told with no advance notice, no previous communication, one day as we walked in that after years of faithful service, we were no longer needed. I had fellow associates who had just pulled up into Charlotte, families who didnt even UNPACK the U-Haul yet that they no longer had a job.

It was a disgrace what happened, and 5 years later things dont seem to be any better over there because of that man.

What I will say though is that TIAA-CREF was a great company once. It really was. We were so proud to work there, and like I stated earlier, working in Actuarial, we made sure that all the work was processed within 3-5 days, sometimes sooner. We had no other choice at the time! We made it happen, but the problems you have experienced was due to two things. New employees and the company converting a platform with no experienced people to run it.

I hope with Mr. Allison out the door, that this new CEO can turn things around and make TIAA-CREF the shining star in the industry that it once was.

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avatar 106 Anonymous July 17, 2008 at 9:41 pm

I’ve posted here before but it has been quite a while. I probably know the other former T-C employee who recently posted. At the risk of sounding just like former employees from many companies who are disgruntled, I echo the sentiments. I stuck around for a while longer than most but eventually Allison’s axe got to me as well. What made T-C different than other companies was the dedication many of us had to the non-profit , pro-education orientation. Yes, it is a Fortune 500 company but it was more than that. Employees really felt that they were helping an important segment of society. Sadly, that has changed. Those longer term employees who are still there feel as if they are simply hanging on to a job…much like the rest of the workforce. Unfortunately, the customers have suffered. Believe me, the former employees know because we are customers as well.

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avatar 107 Anonymous July 18, 2008 at 9:11 am

After reading the latest post from another former employee “WAVES HI!” I just wanted to clarify something – and that is the use of the term disgruntled employee. At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging – I will say this. I was far disgruntled when I left. Sad? Yes, Scared? Yes, but not disgruntled in the sense that the term is usually used.

I worked with Senior Management for weeks after I left to help them locate important files, work flow processes, and documentation for all of the 7 projects I was working on so someone wouldn’t have to spend weeks searching for it. I had several very high level SVP’S continue to give me excellent references as I went on my new job search.

Those references helped me to secure the permenant position I have today.

In the end, being let go from TIAA turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m in a job that I love, and believe it or not, I make considerably more than I ever thought possible. Much more than I made at TIAA-CREF.

However, since my heart and soul was at TIAA – I was sad and yes angry at the way things were carried out. The way that we were displaced was very undignified considering the loyalty we had displayed during our years and years at the company.

I knew that what occurred was a very bad move, not only for us, but for the policyholders, and I turned out to be right. If Allison had kept the legacy folks around, I can almos guarentee that the platform conversion would not have turned out the way it did.

I also know how the morale of the staff completely changed after that first mass layoff, and yes, like the previous poster said – The folks there were left hanging onto their jobs. Not a good combination by any means.

So, again, I hope that this new CEO can turn things around and help bring back the awesome reputation in the industry that TIAA once had. I really do.

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avatar 108 Anonymous July 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm

I have read through most of these comments as I am a current TIAA employee and participant. I am one of the newer guard that has recently taken a position here and have been treated fairly by the company thus far. They have recently increased the amount of vacation time for newer staff members… my guess is in hopes of luring young but experienced staff. The one thing that continues to linger at this organization is a dark tone from nearly all traditional staff members (5+ years of service). Rumors of layoffs fly freely at this company. The latest is a rumor of 10% reduction… note I say RUMOR.

With the new CEO here a restructuring is taking place top down. However, this restructure does not seem to be having dramatic shake ups in any part of the organization. As employees we are often emailed by financial officers requesting (almost desperately) emails and suggestions for areas of cost savings within the organization. I sense that these cost saving requests are the last straw before staff/benefit reductions. If enough money cannot be realized in streamlining the operations themselves then staff will have to be let go to bridge the gap.

I have been at many large institutions and corporations and TIAA is the first I have found that offers a competitive (or more so) salary coupled with a vast array of extremely generous benefits. They continue to support a mammoth beast of an employee retirement plan, the last of the great pensions…. and harbor a large amount of expenditures in health care costs. Something will have to give soon, whether it be benefit or staff reduction… I don’t believe enough cost savings can be realized in the operations of the organization alone.

I am of the opinion that one of the greatest hindrances to efficiency within this organization is the attitude of the old guard. If assurances can be made that all options will be exhausted before layoffs occur (cost savings, benefit reductions etc…) and relayed to staff accordingly it may greatly relieve the pressures felt by employees during everyday work. The saddest thing about TIAA is that the much of the employees joined with the thought of doing good and the purpose of the organization itself is centered around this… unfortunately that is not how much of business (and their new competitors) operate now. They are on a sinking ship that is built on the TIAA-CREF creed.

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avatar 109 Anonymous July 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

To DT (#99): If 5 years experience makes an employee “old guard”, that confirms the testimony of other employees who claim that T-C has axed people who knew what they were doing and replaced them with rookies who don’t. And that would explain the problems participants are having with your brave new world.

Who are the “they” on the “sinking ship” – the “traditional employees” or participants? Maybe traditional participants like me, who joined on the basis of the old “creed”, should rethink our investment strategy.
If “business is business,” maybe we’d be better off with Vanguard which is still (as far as I know) being run competently.

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avatar 110 Anonymous July 22, 2008 at 3:55 pm

To dubious: My comment is more strictly to the employees being on a sinking ship. Your right, there isn’t much old guard left at this point. The ones that are, are close to retirement and honestly are phoning it in. It doesn’t much matter to the 20+ yearers if they get axed soon or not as they have a hefty retirement already setup and a severance package would just be a bonus.

However, given all the younger talent in house a turn around may happen in the distant future under sound leadership. Younger staff here are generally less vested and have much more to work for.

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avatar 111 Anonymous July 23, 2008 at 7:13 am

Back again, and I have a few more closing thoughts.

I don’t want to make it sound like “new” employees are not capable of processing the operations work. This would include Annuitizations, TPA accounts, RTB, Survivor Benefits, MDO Distributions, Change in allocation, Loans, Transfers, Withdrawals, Hard Ships, ect. There are programs that are used to calculate these requests. Can new employees learn these processes? Of course they can. My point was that there was a level of dedication and experience the legacy employees had that is not easily replaced.

When I was there, it was well known that it took at least a year to understand these complex transactions and how to process all of them. At the time, there were levels of Actuarial staff. New staff would process the work, and then a Senior Authorizor would review the entire case, and ensure that is was correct before the transaction was actually processed. From what I have heard, they have eliminated that. They also segregated each of the processes so that each team worked on a specific one. For example, one team processed only transfers, one team processed only loans, one team processed only withdrawals. They did away with that as well, and combined everyone into one team, and each employee had to learn every transaction.

When I was there, I created an internal audit process, where we sampled a selection of case work, and made sure all of the rules were followed, the correct documentation was provided, the turn-around time was met, and the transaction was accurately processed. If mistakes were found, it was recorded and a report was provided to Senior Management. I do not know if they continued that process after my departure.

I agree with he current employee on the benefits package. It was one of the things I loved about working there. The benefits were amazing – including my own annuities! The employer contributions rivaled anything I have seen since. I also agree that employees need to feel that the company will do everything it can to cut costs before laying off people. Working in an environment where you are constantly worried about losing your job, puts people in a state of mind that is not condusiive to quality work.

But from everything I read, the real problems at TIAA occured because of the mainframe platform conversion, and as I already stated in an earlier post, the havoc that ensued was due to the displacement of the legacy IT staff who could have ensured it’s success. Now that its over and done with, I think the worst of the problems are over. But, if as a company, TIAA cannot RETAIN the talent pool that it has, the employees will constantly be in the “new” category, and that will continue to present problems.

If they can retain their talent pool, and go back to having long term experienced employees, which is so important in this particular line of business, I think they could really turn things around once again. People get tired of constantly being in fear for their jobs and the very low morale there, and many jump ship because of it. This will turn into a viscious cycle if something isnt done soon, and who suffers the most in the end? The policyholders.

Allison ruined TIAA-CREF and he walked away a multi millionaire, happily living his life in his mansion in Conn. What does he care anymore? Maybe the new CEO will take a look at this board, and try something NEW. LIKE LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE WHO where there when the company was a great place to work and a great place to house your retirement funds.

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avatar 112 Anonymous July 26, 2008 at 11:28 am

DT – I am a former WMA and was with the company for almost ten years. Beware! The company has transformed from client-centered to money-centered. We were explicitly told to bring in the client’s outside assests regardless of the predicted problems and loss of credibility that would occur afterwards. Most of the upper-management is newer than many of the remaining experienced employees (i.e. actually know what they are doing). In addition, those upper-management people have their own interests in mind, not the client. My only advice is that TIAA-CREF will use you until you are no longer needed so do the same to them. Use the educational reimbursement plan and other benefits to the max because you’ll never know when your time at TIAA-CREF will come to an end. Do the right thing for you and the client and you’ll be able to sleep at night. If TIAA-CREF doesn’t want someone like that, so be it. There is life after TIAA-CREF. Best wishes.

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avatar 113 Anonymous August 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm

I have a Roth IRA with TIAA-CREF and wanted to make a withdrawal of the contribution portion without triggering a 10% penalty and taxation on withdrawal of the earnings portion. On my account online, it said I had X amount in contributions (about 1/3 of the total value).

I called and asked if I withdrew that amount–the amount X stated on my personal account as “contributions”–would it be sure to be from the “contributions” portion and not come from the “earnings” portion. I was assured contributions always were dispensed first, “first in, first out”, and that I need not worry.

I logged in to my account online and ordered a withdrawal from my Roth of amount X. I promptly received a check for X, as requested.

Accompanying the check for X was a statement from TIAA-CREF that they were going to report amount Y (about 50% of amount X) to IRS as taxable income–fpr which I would owe taxes plus 10% penalty.

I checked my account online and the amount for “contributions” was now close to 50% of X.

I called TIAA CREF and asked why I was being sent “earnings” funds when I had been told “contributions” would be sent (“first in, first out”).

I was told that a withdrawal from a Roth IRA online CANNOT have “contributions” come out first before earnings. That can ONLY (I was told) be done by written request faxed or mailed in to TIAA-CREF, specifically requesting this.

I asked what then is the meaning of “first in, first out”? There was no coherent answer.

The TIAA-CREF person understood the situation and told me the ONLY way to correct it was to return the check, do a rollover, and then fax or mail in a written request specifying “take out the contribution portion first”. But I had already deposited the check (I needed the funds). I asked: since I was acting on what I was told, and had called in and specifically asked and had been reassured on this point, and since the amount of the withdrawal was not at issue but only how it was recorded in the bookkeeping (coding), could TIAA-CREF maybe fix it by reclassifying my withdrawal retroactively (since it was not my fault)?

Unbelievably (to me), I was told no, that CANNOT be done. TIAA-CREF, I was told, COULD NOT change the coding on my account. Simply was not possible to do that.

I objected that this was unfair and found myself talking into space. I had been disconnected (hung up on). I had been polite throughout.

I then looked up TIAA-CREF’s webpage on “Roth IRA” and found a written policy, very clearly stated, that all Roth IRA withdrawals are distributed in this order: 1. contributions first. 2. Rollovers contributions first, earnings second first in/ first out. 3. Earnings.

I called back to TIAA-CREF again, said I had lost my connection, went through the explanation again, and asked why this had happened. This person attempted to be helpful. He confirmed that a withdrawal from Roth IRA online CANNOT have the contribution come out first. There is simply no MECHANISM even to request this (when it should be automatic?). I pointed him to the webpage, on the TIAA-CREF website, saying this is how Roth withdrawals are processed, which was in agreement with what a TIAA-CREF person had told me on the phone earlier before I made my withdrawal. I said nothing at all on the website when I made my withdrawal indicated any differently.

This TIAA-CREF person was unfamiliar with the “contributions first” withdrawal ordered sequence stated on TIAA-CREF’s website until I showed him where it was and he found it and saw for himself. At that point he said I was correct and said this would be researched and corrected. By corrected, he explained, he meant change the coding of the withdrawals to what it should have been. (i.e. it is possible at TIAA-CREF’s end to enter a computer and change a code letter in correction of a mistake, contrary to what the first TIAA-CREF phone person had told me was not possible). I was told I would receive a letter about this and it would get resolved.

Are Roth IRA account holders at TIAA-CREF aware that it is literally impossible, by any means, to go through the withdrawal process online and get contributions out first? And that the online account withdrawal process contains no warning whatever of this? What is the point of having an online account management for customers when this utterly basic, completely conventional (and I believe IRS-required?) policy for Roth IRA withdrawal sequence is not only not done automatically, but CANNOT be done AT ALL? And then, once it is done and the customer discovers it, customers are told (in at least some cases, depending on which phone person they reach) that it is not possible for TIAA-CREF (however much they would like to be helpful) at their end to correct this?

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avatar 114 Anonymous August 5, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Dear frustrated customer- I recall many similar issues when I had worked at TIAA-CREF for 10+ years. Basically, you were not counseled correctly which is a typical symptom of the mass lay-offs of the veteran people who not only knew the regulations but also the colleagues who could fix it. That is no longer the case. As I type this, additional TIAA-CREF employees are receiving lay-off notces while the overpaid upper-management increases the % by which they are overpaid! The conversations are documented so I would take this matter the management to research the incorrect advice and seek reimbursement for your tax liability as a result. It will take time and persistence, but it has been done- I know. Don’t even bother with the green reps on the 800#, immediately seek a manager or fax your issue in to the general fax# and then follow-up with a phone call to a manager. I hope this helps in some way.

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avatar 115 Anonymous August 5, 2008 at 9:49 pm

LAYOFFS HAVE BEGUN AT TIAA-CREF AS OF MONDAY 8/4/08. 10% IS THE RUMOR THAT THEY WISH TO ACHIEVE.

T/C IS QUIETLY REDUCING HEAD COUNT IN CHARLOTTE NC OFFICE. YOU DON’T SEE THAT IN THE PAPERS OR THE NEWS. THEY ARE DOING THIS TO TRIM THE EXPENSES THAT HAVE RUN UP OVER THE TENURE OF THE OUT GOING CEO-HERB ‘MERRIL LYNCH’ ALLISON.

GO TO http://WWW.TIAA-CREF.ORG, SEARCH FOR EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION AND READ THE DOCUMENT ON THE GUARENTEED COMPENSATION CONTRACTS OF THE EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM FOR THIS “NOT FOR PROFIT” ORGANIZATION.

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avatar 116 Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 9:43 am

LHR74: Sounds like good advice, but how does one reach a manager?

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avatar 117 Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Frank- You’ll still need to call the general 800 # and then request a manager once you actually reach a human. I recommend that you write a letter detailing your situation and fax it to 800-914-8922 so it is on record versus having a rep document the conversation. Once you have faxed the letter, I would then call to speak with a manager. Ultimately, these types of situations are handled by a group of people called the “Participant Relations” group. They are knowledgeable and most likely the more experienced folks in the company.

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avatar 118 Anonymous August 9, 2008 at 6:59 am

My August 5th comment about T/C beginning layoffs in it’s Charlotte Office has been confirmed:

http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2008/08/04/daily53.html

and

http://www.charlotte.com

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avatar 119 Anonymous August 9, 2008 at 8:56 am

I agree with the recommendation to Frank – I worked in Actuarial, and I am still familiar with the tax implications of a Roth IRA withdrawal.

Participant Relations is the place to go, do not waste your time speaking to anyone on the main phone line. If you are asked why you want to speak to a Manager, just state that you have repeated your complaint several times already, and you do not want to repeat it again.

I cannot believe that you had to point out the policy provisions listed on the website to someone who works on the phones.

Just an FYI on the call centers, even without the “layoffs” the call center has always had a very high turn-over rate. Because of the stress of that position, the turnover rate is 1-2 years – Not very long.

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avatar 120 Anonymous August 9, 2008 at 10:43 am

Thanks to the former TIAA-CREF employees for comments. (Note I am not “Frank”.) The key issue is that the TIAA-CREF online account management withdrawal process for Roth IRA’s does not disburse “contributions first”, despite this being published policy of major brokers such as Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and TIAA-CREF.

IRS publication 590 on Roth IRA’s says: “If you receive a distribution from your Roth IRA that is not a qualified distribution, part of it may be taxable. There is a set order in which contributions (including conversion contributions) and earnings are considered to be distributed from your Roth IRA … Order the distributions as follows. 1. Regular contributions . . .”

Since it is routine policy for brokerage houses, including TIAA-CREF, to automatically order withdrawals form a Roth IRA “contributions first”, the puzzle is why TIAA-CREF’s online account management for Roth IRA account-holders does not do this automatically, nor does it warn that it is not doing this, nor does it provide a mechanism for requesting this to be done.

The TIAA-CREF webpage stating that Roth IRA withdrawals are disbursed “contributions first” — automatically and routinely — is at

http://www.tiaa-cref.org/brokerage/inved/roth_ira.htm

“Amounts are withdrawn from a Roth IRA in the following order: 1. All annual contributions. 2. All conversion sums on a first-in/first-out basis. 3. All earnings from dividends and gains.”

HOWEVER: I just noticed this policy on TIAA-CREF’s site is actually stated on a page called “TIAA-CREF brokerage services”. Is “TIAA-CREF brokerage services” policy different from a TIAA-CREF normal Roth IRA account?

But how would a TIAA-CREF customer with a ROTH IRA using the website’s online account management know that a withdrawal from a Roth IRA online would be done any differently than the policy for ROTH IRA withdrawals of “TIAA-CREF brokerage services” on the TIAA-CREF site?

To clarify, the first TIAA-CREF phone person with whom I talked originally told me there was an automatic “first in/ first out” policy in the context of his advising me to fill in a paper form and mail it or fax it in. It was THIS–to be accurate here–that he told me was automatic first-in/first-out policy, contributions first, and I need not worry. A few days later I made the partial withdrawal from my Roth IRA of the “contributions” amount using TIAA-CREF’s online account management because it never even occurred to me that there would be any difference in consequences or TIAA-CREF procedures between withdrawing by paper, or by online, since it is the same account and the same TIAA-CREF. (And, dumb question maybe, but why should there be a difference?)

I am not actually trying to bash TIAA-CREF or its representatives, but simply wish to inform others of this feature of the Roth IRA withdrawal process in TIAA-CREF’s online account management.

Another reference might be helpful here on IRS Roth IRA withdrawal ordering, for those interested:
http://www.rothira.com/artupi.htm

Based on the information in this last item, the Roth IRA withdrawals can simply be reported correctly (in terms of contribution amount first) on one’s tax return. TIAA-CREF’s numbers concerning how much is gone from “contributions” or “earnings” actually become formally irrelevant (just misinformation to the consumer). I suppose the take-away lesson here for Roth IRAs is keep your own records of contributions, and do not rely on TIAA-CREF for this. Its sophisticated new hardware platform and software conversion just doesn’t seem to be up to the task.

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avatar 121 Anonymous August 10, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Yeah… Unfortunately, there are layoffs across the company, most are non client facing people.
Still a great company, although it has changed over the years.. I started under John Biggs and he was a very reactive CEO who let our systems get extremely old and kept plugging leaks in a 40 year old Legacy system. Allison could have been better, but he set us up to be ready again for an extremely competitive business this niche of the industry has become…

Not to worry.. TIAA-CREF is still only one of three insurance companies in the USA with AAA ratings from Moody’s, S&P and Fitch..
We are 90 years old and will be around for another 90.. Roger Ferguson will lead us down a better path going forward..

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avatar 122 Anonymous August 10, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Cref for life, no offense but you mention that CREF is laying off non-client facing people. The HUGE problem with this is that it dramatically affects the client experience. We have seen this with the conversion from legacy systems. Organizations like this often take the view that is easy to cut the back office staff and still maintain a great customer experience. This is the WRONG attitude to have. I urge customers of CREF to think very seriously about investing in this company under this layoff climate. They may have great customer service staff that can take your request promptly. However, the MAJORITY of complaints on this board and others relate directly to back end processes that are not being fulfilled end it end. No amount of promises from customer service is going to pull the money out of your Roth when you are ready to retire if the back end systems are a mess and the people to help fix customer requests have been cut.

Words of advice from a current TIAA-CREF employee… think very wisely before investing in this company. While you may see optimism from traditional employees or planted comments from public facing PR staff (yes they monitor this and other poor reviews of the company) the company is definitely in a large internal turmoil. There is no reason a current employee would stumble across this topic unless they have already been here and posted or are in fear of the layoffs and are googling it.

Final thought, they always trumpet the AAA insurance rating… think of it as a little league trophy, nice to look at for a minute but does it really mean anything in the long run?

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avatar 123 Anonymous August 11, 2008 at 10:28 am

DT (#113) You’re right, of course. As a participant, I had hoped that the new management would clean up Allison’s mess. Instead they seem to be exacerbating it. Considering T-C’s steadily deteriorating position during the Allison years, Cref-for-life’s comment about competitiveness is laughable.

As are those AAA ratings. The current financial crisis centers around AAA-rated investments which have turned out to be nearly worthless.

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avatar 124 Anonymous August 11, 2008 at 8:47 pm

DT and Frank…

First of all.. DT..The company is not laying off service people in the back offices. There are plenty of people that are working in processing to process transactions.. The layoffs mostly affected higher level individuals making big salaries with no direct reports and were non client facing people.. Secondly, I cannot disagree with you more about the importance of ratings in the insurance industry.. The is no such thing as FDIC in the insurance industry. SO.. The claims paying ability of an insurance company is paramount. There is a reason that there are only three insurance companies in the US that can make this claim. The Creditworthiness of a company is extremely important. Especially an insurance company.. So your comparison of comparing it to a trophy is a just an uninformed statement. Obviously you dont quite understand the importance of strong financial ratings.

And Frank.. I have been with TIAA-CREF for 12 years.. In various positions client facing positions. Allison could have certainly done a better job with TIAA during his tenure, but you have to understand that he was handed a company that had some serious issues that had to be dealt with much more quickly than they should have been dealt with.. He was handed a proverbial shit sandwhich that we all had to take a bite out of.. I was there through it all and suffered much stress through the transition and nt being able to help our participants the way I was accustomed to. Like I said earlier, we had a 40 year old legacy system that could not be tweaked any further. We needed to offer an open architecture to our participants that would offer many more products and services to remain competitive with Fidelity and Vanguard and the like. They were eating into TIAA’s market share big time. Our biggest complaint was that we didnt have the products and services menu that people wanted and they were going to Fidelity et al. So along came Allison who lead through a huge systems migration to get thousands of college and university plans, research hospitals, museums plans etc along with three million participants retirement accounts over to a Sungard/Omni system that was programmed mainly for mutual funds and not annuities.. We had huge problems and TIAA-CREF participants suffered, TIAA-CREF suffered as well as its employees. We took a black eye more than once over the last 3 years, but we are going to be a better company down the road and much more competitive for the initiatives that Allison started. Wealth Management and Brokerage Services have been hugely sucessful and so has our mutual fund offering as well as other products and services that came along under Allison. So my comments are not laughable.. You are laughable, because you don’t understand.

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avatar 125 Anonymous August 11, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Cref for Life….It’s wonderful that you are pulling the party line for TIAA-CREF. Only time will tell if your title is appropriate. You and I probably started at TIAA at approximately the same time so you would know colleagues who had relocated their families and their lives to Charlotte only to be let go soon thereafter. Many of those people thought they were “Cref for Life” too. It is great to mention ratings and creditworthiness but when a client cannot have reasonable access to THEIR own funds and/or are given inaccurate information, they tend not to give a damn about the creditworthiness of the company. As a client facing employee, you should know that better than most.

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avatar 126 Anonymous August 11, 2008 at 10:58 pm

CREF for Life, I really don’t mean to offend but your wrong. These layoffs are not silos, they are not one or two people who have no direct reports and have phased out job functions. You do not layoff 10% of a company and restrict it to jobs that are upper management, fat paycheck, no direct reports. I can CONFIRM firsthand that TIAA-CREF is laying off service people. In fact over 400 alone have been laid off in Charlotte. Please, name a company of our stature that can layoff 400 people and not affect service or back office staff? You cant. Further, those that had service positions in contract roles are also being axed to the tune of 30% of the entire contingent workforce. (Not really a point I disagree with as it was a terrible business decision to convert staff in 2004 to contingent workers in the first place, which is basically what was accomplished)

I also still completely disagree with you about the bogus AAA ratings. Moody has proven itself to be increasingly unreliable amidst computer “errors” (http://www.dealbreaker.com/2008/05/moodys_multi-billion_computer.php) and poorly constructed ratings mechanisms. The markets are often compared to gambling, would I trust a company that is not independent, not free from bias, not non-profit or governmental, and often using fuzzy methodologies to tell me what funds are solid performers? I think not. Many companies that are on TIAA-CREF’s heels have a variety of funds that are better than what we currently offer including Fidelity and Vanguard. the AAA rating means little to many of them and they continue to steal participants and institutions. The company now tries to crawl into other markets realizing they are quickly loosing market share in the cores.

I urge all of you to avoid those that have obviously drunk the koolaid. My advice to all participants and institutional clients thinking about TIAA-CREF remains unchanged. Think carefully, do your research, and choose based on an informed decision. This company is ailing, it has been for years and will not turn around in a dramatic manor anytime soon….not by a long shot.

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avatar 127 Anonymous August 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm

crefforlife,
you need help. you are defending a company that doesn’t give a crap about you! tiaa is horrible. ferguson will be of no help because he doesn’t have the qualifications. he was chosen because noone would take the job. he is doing what anyone with his lack of experience would do-fire people. i guess because you have not been hit-yet- you think that everyone is disgruntled. thats an ignorant way to look at it. the company has fallen apart. not everyone here is lying or angry.
i have seen tiaa lose million dollar checks. lose customer information. mail checks with no address. leave millions of dollars worth of checks on someones desk. change the terms of policies. a manager drop dead at her desk. ambulances carting employees out on a daily basis. doctors reporting the company for contributing to the poor health of employees. employees being terminated without packages.
and that was in the past six years. but i guess thats ok since these were ‘non client facing’ issues.
people,
do not invest your money in this company. they are no longer qualified to do the job. and think of how sorry you will be when the company folds. they are getting out of the insurance business. and they are taking your money with them.

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avatar 128 Anonymous August 12, 2008 at 7:37 am

I am an employee in a technology area. I joined the company when Mr Biggs was the president. He was a nice man but at the same time the company was viewed as a retirement home for employee’s with antiquated systems and financial offering’s.

I don’t agree entirely with how changes were made but some were needed. Everyone knows about Mr Allison’s 8 million dollar guaranteed salary per year. This is absolutely horrific when people with families are losing there jobs. I don’t think layoffs are appropriate or needed

Beginning in 2003 under Mr Allison the company did make many needed changes in its infrastructure. The tools for monitoring, changes, requests and incident reporting were all updated and standardized to cut costs. A centralized operations command center was put in place with the ability to recieve notification of system problems and act on it. Many old antiquated systems were replaced.

We in our area ot technology have provided 24×7 support for the development and implementation of new products. We are a very lean team providing this support and I am very proud of the job we do.

As I have said I am not a business person but it is obvious from what I can see that the business is working hard to expand its offerings and make wise decisions to benefit our participants. The processes for improvement are in place and this improvement is being seen and you will see it.

Yes, we do have some problems. Employee do live under fear because you never know when you will be terminated. The company has become a little too procedural at the moment. Employees are constantly taking tests, submitting attestations, taking repetitive training courses. We in technology are being audited constantly by external, internal and other groups within the company all in the name of sarbanes-oxley. It seems constant since 2004. Of course audit control is good but only until it begins to inhibit a technology person from doing what they should be doing and that is technology. If we can reel in the constant auditing overhead I believe we can make these layoffs un-necessary

In any part of your life always be assertive. If something is being done wrong always speak up about it. A thing I have learned in my life is that when you communicate issues clearly and persistently things do you get fixed. Be assertive , if a call center person is not doing there job then escalate it up the line always in a clear concise matter of what the issue is.

We in the company have families to support as do our participants. On that note , I and many other people at this company will work hard to right any wrong as we a have a big stake in it too. I am not working there for fun. I am working there because as and adult I have a responsibility to my family and you the participants. I promise you that I will never do a second rate job in support of my family or the participants that count on me.

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avatar 129 Anonymous August 12, 2008 at 7:58 am

“So along came Allison who lead through a huge systems migration to get thousands of college and university plans, research hospitals, museums plans etc along with three million participants retirement accounts over to a Sungard/Omni system that was programmed mainly for mutual funds and not annuities” – Cref for Life

I will state again that I do not consider myself “disgruntled” as I quickly found employment, and was very happy with my severance package. What I state here is based solely on my experiences at TC for over 12 years.

Since TC was basically an annuites company, not a mutual funds store, the first error in judgement was to migrate a platform however old, that housed annuities to a new platform that was designed around mutual funds.

If the Sunguard/Omni platform package did not offer what TC needed in terms of storing the annuitiy data, then TC should have worked with SunguardOmni to modify it original package to accomodate it’s needs. They could have spent some time developing the platform to handle the annuities, they did not.

In my current role, we are working with an outside vendor to do just that. The application they want to sell us was developed for another company, and we are working with them to develop what we need on top of their baseline application.

I remember prior to my departure, the discussions on how we would move forward in this competitve market, and how we would begin not only offering our own Mutual Fund options, but also giving Participants the opportunity to invest in funds offered by our competitors through our window. These discussions took place BEFORE Allison came in, so it wasn’t like Biggs didn’t have a clue, and Mr. Allison flew in with his red cape.

Allison hired an external consulting company to assess the organization from top to bottom, and it was this same outside consulting firm that determined which areas were to be cut. Were jobs eliminated that needed to be? I would say yes, as over time there is always a segment of positions that evolve and bring no real value. Were there job cuts made at the legacy level that seriously impacted the Omni conversion? As I stated in a prior post, without a doubt.

Saying that only non-client facing employees are being displaced really makes no sense, as if that will have no impact on the client experience. I will state it again, there were employees who had just pulled into Charlotte, SOME OF THEM STILL ENROUTE, only to arrive here after selling their homes, and leaving their families, and find out they no longer had a job.

Many of those who were displaced back then had spouses that QUIT their jobs in NY as well, and were planning on looking for work when they arrived here. Now two breadwinners were without jobs. I also know for a fact that after that debacle, TC tried to whoo back displaced employees and hire them as contractors. I dont believe that wasn’t their intention from the get go – With the same staff now contractors, TC has saved themselves the expense of paying Medical / Health Benefits, and Pension Contributions.

It is easy for you to say the things you have said, because you have not been impacted. But I will say this again, I really believe that TIAA-CREF can be the shining star it once was, but the foundation of what made it great in the past has to be rebuilt. If they can do that, that is half the battle.

I know is this day and age, no one really has job security, and that is a fact of life unfortunately, but an employee has to feel valued or else they will be a flight risk. I would hate to see TC go under. Under the right leadership, it still has a chance. Look to the past for what will make a difference in the future, and listen!!!

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avatar 130 Anonymous August 12, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Wow, I’m shocked to see some of the stuff current TIAA employees are posting in here (pssst… it’s a public forum).

I sympathize with the hard workers who have been let go, I’ve known a number of them myself. But that’s about all I have to say on the subject. Good luck all.

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avatar 131 Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Nobody has said anything about “ethics” or “ethical behavior”. I thought TIAA-CREF always wore the “White Hat” when I worked from them. During the Allison years, I personally observed that the TIAA Code of Business Conduct was a joke not to be taken seriously and that if over looking compliance issues helped increase the surplus, then so be it – bigger bonuses. I found Teacher’s business ethics sorely lacking and I think that has hurt them quite a bit in the market place. It is no secret that they “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk”. I observed severely challenged ethics in different functional areas and right up to the top floor in the executive suite where many of them still work. Perhaps the new CEO will clean house and bring in honest folks who play by the rules and believe in Teacher’s Code of Business Conduct. Their participants deserve no less.

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avatar 132 Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Here is the text of a letter I sent to Participant Relations and the TIAA-CREF Board Chair in Oct. 2006. My letter was never forwarded to the Chair. Much later she wrote a note to me and apologized. While some of the problems seem to be improving, we still have many unsatisfied and frustrated employees. Our School is currenlty looking for a new provider. We finally gave up!

Twenty years ago, as a new investor, I was very impressed with TIAA-CREF. The customer service was extraordinary. I remember recommending TIAA-CREF life insurance and investment products to colleagues and friends. Sadly my enthusiasm for TIAA-CREF has vanished. In fact, over the last couple years I have lost trust in the company. I am writing to let you know why my trust level with TIAA-CREF is at an all time low.

Things started to deteriorate a couple years ago when I was looking to consolidate my investments with one company. Our TIAA-CREF representative explained to me that the company was offering a new brokerage services division. At the time, I had about $300,000 (including my CREF accounts) to consolidate. I called the brokerage services division to get some information. The woman I spoke with was short with me and clearly was not interested in my business. I decided to move the majority of my investments to Fidelity.

Over the last two years, I have called the TIAA-CREF customer service call center numerous times. Many times I have had to wait more than fifteen minutes to speak with a representative. The call center operators, while courteous, often times were unable to answer my questions. For example, one time I had a question about transferring money from my after tax money market account to my personal bank account. I called, waited 15 minutes, and was told that my call needed to be transferred. Again, I waited. When connected, the operator told me I could make a transfer from my money market account to my bank account via the website. I spent 20 minutes searching the site. I called back on a Saturday morning and a second operator told me that she could not answer my question because the mutual fund operators were not available. I called back the following week and a third operator said I could only make transfers via the telephone. At the beginning of that third call I selected an option to participate in a phone survey following my customer service call. I waited for five minutes at the end of my call, the survey never clicked in! This is just one example of confused call center operators, very poor customer service, an outdated website and a frustrated participant.

This year in early September I started having problems downloading CREF information into my Quicken program. I called the call center and learned about a recent computer conversion. Shortly after that call, I received a difficult to understand transfer letter from CREF about my wife’s account (we both work at the same school) stating that she would receive a new contract under separate cover. I never received a letter and later learned that my account numbers changed too. I continued to have trouble downloading information into Quicken and was having trouble matching old account numbers with the new account numbers for our family accounts. I informed our business manager of the problems and he emailed our account representative. I called the call center (one early evening) and asked to speak with a technology service person for Quicken support. I was told that tech support was only available during business hours. I emailed our business manager my Quicken question. I finally received a call from a CREF employee in Denver. Since Quicken is on my home computer and the representative was only available during business hours and was on Pacific Time, I needed to set up a phone appointment with him and take time off from work all to get help with a problem that CREF created. I spent close to an hour on the phone with him. He was friendly and helpful and I was able to reconcile the account numbers. I was disappointed; however, to learn that close to 20 years of historical data in Quicken was now unusable due to the computer conversion.

I also learned my problems were only beginning. Our investments have always been sent electronically and invested and credited to our account on the 25th of each month. Shortly after September 25th I checked the CREF website and learned that our contributions were not invested. I informed our business manager and he learned that the problem was conversion related. I was assured the money would be invested shortly and post dated to 9/25/06. In early October I received my third quarter statement. Our September investments were not listed. In fact, it took three weeks for the problem to be solved. At one point the money was listed as being invested on 10/3/06. Apparently that was a mistake and all investments were sold and post dated to 9/25/06. The investments did not appear on the website until late October. This morning I checked the website and found that our 10/25/06 investments are not listed. I called the call center and the gentleman said that the money should appear in 3-5 days. The saga continues.

All around, this is bad business. Why was the conversion not properly planned, executed and explained to participants? Why has CREF not sent a letter of apology to participants for the problems I listed? Why are call center operators not equipped to answer many participant questions? (Many call center operators confirmed that CREF is experiencing internal problems. One even laughed at my complaints.) Why is Quicken support not available during the evening when it’s most needed? Even our local bank has someone available to answer Quicken support calls.

Last night I called my bank regrading a 529 plan question. The call was answered quickly; the operator was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. It reminded me of the old TIAA-CREF. I like Stephen Covey’s emotional bank account trust metaphor. He says when you make deposits (good experiences, compliments etc.) to one’s emotional bank account you build up trust with others. Withdrawals (bad experiences, negative comments etc.) chip away at the trust level. Because of the many bad experiences I have had over the last couple years at TIAA-CREF, my emotional bank account with the company is depleted. Sadly, I soon plan to initiate a 90-24 transfer to move my $100,000 plus CREF SRA to Fidelity. I know many of my colleagues are also upset and considering transfers. I will also be advocating for another retirement investment provider for our employees.

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avatar 133 Anonymous August 18, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I left Princeton University several years ago and wanted to roll over my funds from Tiaa-Cref to another firm. I was told that due to Princeton’s rules, even though I no longer work for them, I cannot roll over my money until 55. Does anyone know how to get around this rule? How is this legal? Why are they allowed to impose such a stipulation? And does that have any implications on fiduciary responsibility? Fund offerings, not to mention the customer service, are very limited.

If there is so much anger out there towards Tiaa-Cref, as I also have issues, why are people not demanding their institutions to withdraw their funds and find another provider?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!!

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avatar 134 Anonymous August 20, 2008 at 4:53 am

In spite of the inexcusable mess is bookkeeping that T/C has experienced in the past few years, I would like to point out that the traditional account is still hard to beat for a fixed income investment. If you plan to leave T/C, I would recommend leaving funds in the traditional account, and forget about them until retirement. I too have been looking at other providers, but have found no fixed income investments that come close to the traditional account with its guaranteed minimum and vintage system yields.

You may find this strange, but, contrary to most of you. I’m not happy with the creation of the new alternative investments at T/C. In my opinion, all these new mutual fund programs (which by the way triggered the need for this messed up new computer platform and other support services) simply add costs and little benefits to a T/C participant. Would be much happier if the only alternative was the CREF stock account (as it was in the old days).

My biggest concerns are with the changes in corporate climate and these increased costs. They are moving towards typical mutual fund company structures and activities, and perhaps away from the original mission of T/C.

Would love to hear from some of the old time employees about what went on internally during these changes, starting with the money market fund creation, loss of tax exemption, Katzenback(?) report, etc.

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avatar 135 Anonymous August 20, 2008 at 7:48 am

On the “traditional” accounts vs. the new fangled mutual fund offerings, I whole heartedly agree. During my years, I saw hundreds of folks annuitize their CREF STOCK accounts multi-millionaires. The secret back then was to leave your funds in the stock account regardless of the ups and downs of the unit values. Just keep piling on the units, for as many times as I saw the unit values dip (I had historical access to the stock unit values from inception to present) I then saw them rise higher than the previous high. With the original stock account, we added the Bond, RE, Global and several other “CREF” annuity allocation options, all of which did very well, but as an employee as well as a participant, I always allocated my contributions 75% to the original stock fund.

The move towards the mutual fund offerings was started because of the “competition” – I dont know if this was a perceived competition, or if it was based on some solid findings.

To the Princeton Employee, I do remember us having to review Institutional Rules prior to processing rollovers, withdrawals, ect, and indeed some institutions forbid transfers out of TIAA to another company. More often than not, the restrictions applied specifically to the Universities contributions and the earnings on those contributions, not the employee portion, so I would ask them to provide you with a copy of the institution rules for Princeton. You may be able to roll-over your own contributions and earnings.

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avatar 136 Anonymous August 20, 2008 at 11:49 pm

A bunch of TIAA V.P.’s were relaxing in a Manhattan Jacuzzi. One V.P. asked. “How many V.P.s does it take to change a light bulb?

The V.P. of Technology said, “I’ve heard of light bulbs I’ll check into that.”

The V.P. of Strategic Marketing said” It doesn’t matter if the lights go out because I’m use to working in the dark.”

The V.P. of Finance said, “I can do it but I want a bigger bonus.”

CEO Roger Ferguson stood up and said. “You’re all wrong. You just lay off talented people, carry on with a computer system that doesn’t work, keep operating in an outdated mode and whoever gets around to changing it so be it. Now, lets talk about more cutbacks, ways to create chaos and lower moral.”

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avatar 137 Anonymous August 21, 2008 at 7:49 am

Hey Mystery J – Funny post, yet not so funny because it is true from what I heard. I read an article that 158 Charlotte Associates were let go. Has there been any more cut-backs since then? Do you know if the 10% across the board staff reduction is true?

I hope you weren’t cut, but if you were, my best wishes go out to you. It happened to me, and it was very hard, but I made it through.

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avatar 138 Anonymous August 22, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Yes it’s true. And the well spoken rumor is that a total of 1000 employees will be layed off by the end of the year. They are doing it in piece meal. They just fired the president of their life insurance division. Part of the cost reduction was the reason. Employees are running scared. There is so many levels of hierarchy at that organization it’s not funny.

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avatar 139 Anonymous August 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Never mind that they have over 2000 consultants running around in the company. If they are looking to save money, why not look at that group. If you can’t train your own staff to do the work there is a problem. It’s like 20% of the company is outsourced at a very large price tag and now employees are paying the price. Lay off the consultants for goodness sake!

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avatar 140 Anonymous August 22, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Who was the President who was laid off? I’ve also heard through the current and former employee network that there are rumors of further cuts in staff. This could be because the big implementation is coming to an end.

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avatar 141 Anonymous August 23, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Well companies only lay off people when they are having financial difficulties, which was why until the Sept 03 lay-offs, TIAA had never laid off anyone, for fear that policyholders would think the company was in trouble and flee.

Consultants should be the first to go before FTE staff … 2000 consultants? Thats a lot. Wow.

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avatar 142 Anonymous August 24, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Former TIAA Employee I’m sorry to hear that you were let you go. I heard the rational they were using was 1) the market is bad and no one is investing 2) they were letting go of poor performers. I believe the market is bad, however I believe the more likely reason is nobody wants to invest with TIAA. I also don’t buy the poor perfomers story either. I think it has to do with letting go of people who have been with the company for awhile and have a salary higher than their counterparts. By the way here is a typical TIAA crisis story. I heard that they laid off people in the compliance department only to realize later that they had no one to replace them. I also heard that they only gave employees, that were laid off, one week of pay for each year they worked for TIAA. Does anyone know if that’s true? Best wishes Former TIAA Employee.

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avatar 143 Anonymous August 25, 2008 at 3:55 am

A few questions:

Can you refer me to the article about the 158 Charlotte Associates that were terminated? Am interested in what were their duties and whether these duties were transferred somewhere or were no longer necessary.

Guess I have the same questions about the potential 1,000 lay offs mentioned. Will there be fewer phone reps, WMAs, analysts…..? Are some departments safer than others? How firm is that 1,000 number?

Also, how firm is that 2,000 number of consultants, and what sort of things do they do?

Have the assets of the mutual funds and/or the traditional account decreased to justify these lay offs?

When Allison made those lay offs in ’03, was there a decrease in employees, or did it just give him room to make new hires? What has been the trend in number and type of employees over the past few years?

Is there any sign that Ferguson is clearing out Allison’s people in order to get some of his own in? And the latter includes upper management such as the Life Insurance president.

I’ll expect complete reports by the end of the week. :-).

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avatar 144 Luke Landes August 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm

BH: This article from the Charlotte Business Journal discusses the 158 employees who were laid off in Charlotte.

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avatar 145 Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 10:24 am

I have had a problem related to TIAACREF IRS filling for 1099-INT statements. I took a pension loan, took it at the end of the year as a payment early, paid the IRS 10% penalty. For several years after TIAACREF sent 1099-INT statments for that same loan. The Interest was imputted (not real or as I call phantom income). I realzed something was wrong. Called TIAACREF and after a long period of getting different answeres they finally answered that they said the IRS required them to imput the interest even though the loan was gone (if I still worked for the same company). I did not. They refused to go backwards and correct their IRS 1099-Int fillings. I have the attorney General of Connecticut after TIAACREF and have filled an official IRS complaint. I have brought it to the US Attorney General now. You have got to wonder at this company what is going on???

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avatar 146 Anonymous August 26, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I worked for TIAA-CREF for a few years and was let go recently. They claimed it was due to “performance rankings”. It’s kind of hard to believe that I was one of the lower performers even when you consider there were 4-5 new people who had been there less time then me. How could they be better performers when I know for a fact that several of them didn’t even have work to complete from week to week? Whatever. Having experienced the call center, I can say that that has to be one of the worst ran operations I’ve ever experienced. I quickly discovered that it really wasn’t about client satisfaction. It was all about productivity, calls taken, not ready times, etc. If you’re complaince numbers were off or you spent too much time off the phone, that was a huge deal. A client not getting their payment? Not so much. I hated the call center, because TIAA-CREF exempted back-office processors from any kind of accountability whatsoever. If a person asks for $20K and you send him $2K, you should have to answer that call and explain what the hell it was that you were thinking about. They lean too much on their processes and really show they don’t care about client satisfaction. God forbid if something was “escalated”. It took forever. Herb did do some good things realizing TIAA-CREF was operating in the stone-age, but he also created a lot of fluff positions. Morale in the call-center was extremely bad, especially among employees with 5+ yrs of experience. I tried to get out as soon as I could and I did. I used them and their tuition reimbursement for everything I can get. They set me up for a nice opportunity somewhere else. Thanks CREF! I’ve been out of the call center for a yr and I heard they’re still messing stuff up. The conversions are over thank God, but they are still trying to soothe over frustrations from the bigger institutions. This is because they thought it not necessary to communicate issues that may occur due to the conversions to their top institutions.?????? Just mind-boggling. Anyway, I will say that TIAA-CREF can be a great company. They just need to realize they are not as big a player as they think they are and get back to a true client-focused agenda. They’re even beginning to push product with Wealth Management Advisors. Really cracking down on them to talk about solutions with every client, even in cases where it may not be appropriate. Anyway, good luck to them and I hope FINRA gets off their back.

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avatar 147 Anonymous September 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Class action law suits are a big waste of effort. The lawyers get 33% and the rest is divided by the class. Ie $40 each or such.

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avatar 148 Anonymous September 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm

I still work with TIAA-CREF. Every month, there are at least two notices sent out to employees to announce the promotion of someone to a new made up position. The lady in charge of some silly game playing exercise that the company did last year (knowledge map), she was promoted to executive of corporate equality, or some silly title like that.

It seems like there are people that worked with higher ups in the corporate office, and the workers that got inside info on who was screwing up were given promotion and job security to not blabb.

As far as those without the 500K to make it to “Wealth Management”, I see how you get treated. Within the company, those not in the “Wealth Management” programme are regarding as being not important. Frequently, you’ll be pushed to the back burner. When you try to be the squeaky wheel, all you will get is a copy and pasted letter from a “director.”

Believe me, I have to sign and mail out about 10 of these a day. The “director” rarely even looks at these.

For those having trouble with TIAA-CREF, I can offer the best advice I can think of.

Treat this issues better than you would treat the maintenance of your auto. You shop around for a mechanic, one you trust, one you believe will not rip apart your car to get more money for repairs, and you educate yourself by getting estimates and other opinions from more than one shop on what you need.

So educate yourself, shop around, and find a company that makes you happy. Find someone that has the know how to fight to get your money away from someone that doesn’t really care about YOUR best interest.

I work for TIAA-CREF, and I don’t invest with them.

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avatar 149 Anonymous September 10, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Still at TIAA-CREF: Well said!!! I was once one of the first new Wealth Management Advisors and had been with TIAA-CREF for 10+ years. Even those clients that fall for the wealth managment pitch soon learn that once any outside assets have been “recommended” to be invested with TIAA-CREF, they are then dumped onto a service rep and they never hear from the WMA again. The so called advice is geared to have clients consolidate assets with TIAA-CREF and the company would be hard-pressed to prove that all of those transactions were actually in the best interest of the client.

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avatar 150 Anonymous September 12, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Oh my gosh! I never thought a company would be so difficult to work with. I’ve been given the runaround by this company for the last month and a half. Not nearly as long some of the other victims on this site, but just the same… it’s been like driving through hell. Not one of the customer service reps seems to have a clue yet they are very experienced in side stepping the questions. We’re not talking a large sum of money. WHen I asked to speak to a supervisor, the blatantly told me NO and wouldn’t allow me to speak to a supervisor. I also believe that I’m being blackballed with a caller ID because when I call either the reps play dumb or they are ready to void answering my questions. I just want to end my relationship with the employer and NOW TIAA CREF. I didn’t realize how screwed up this company is. I’m very disappointed with them and I just want my money. This company is clearly in trouble when they can’t seem to process a simple transaction. Stay away!

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avatar 151 Anonymous September 15, 2008 at 1:15 am

I currently work for TIAA CREF and am proud of it. we did have problems and we are over coming them. You don’t see stories about us going out of business. We have been around for over 90 yrs and pay out more retirement money than any other company. We don’t work on commision and are AAA rated with over 400 billion in assets. So, when Lehman goes under, Sterns tanked, Merrill needs BOA to buy them out, Fannie and Freddie need Big Brother to help them, AIG in hot water….we are still staying strong… building our client’s retirement.

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avatar 152 Anonymous September 17, 2008 at 10:27 am

This site seems to have been taken over by TIAA PR people , employees, and aplologists. The WM people are all about getting your other assets transferred to TIAA. They are all rookies and will leave when they get a little bit of work on their resumes. Getting your money out of them requires a pick axe. They mean well but its a 1960’s company in the 21st century. The system is simply overmatched.

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avatar 153 Anonymous September 22, 2008 at 12:34 pm

The difficulty in having a conversation with those who are still at TIAA-CREF is the same difficulty in dealing with TIAA-CREF itself. There is so much resistance to being honest about the flaws and serious customer service issues that have been ruining the reputation of TIAA-CREF. Five years ago, TIAA-CREF let go a large number of people that had a substantial amount of knowledge. That lost knowledge and skill base has yet to be recaptured. Why admit that things have being going downhill since when you can bury your head in the sand instead? It’s so easy to say things are so great when you haven’t been around long enough at TIAA-CREF to know how it WAS great. To those people who stand up for TIAA-CREF no matter what, try and put yourself for one moment into the shoes of a client who was royally screwed due to the typical errors that have been occuring since 2003. Again, I was employed with TIAA-CREF for 10+ years in various client facing positions (lastly, as a WMA). I still have my funds with TIAA-CREF because I believe that the investment managament is sound. The service has a long way to go regain client confidence. The bad service is what will drive clients to take their money out, not the investment performance.

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avatar 154 Anonymous September 24, 2008 at 2:12 am

To: grassis notalways greener

You must be really new or really blind. The company is going down the drain. Although it may be with quickness of molasses, it’s still happening. Even the head of PR/Advertising openly admitted that he was even made aware that everyday TIAA looses more money than it gains.

The customer complaints you see here are valid, and shouldn’t be brushed aside with a simple statement like, “you don’t see stories about us going out of business.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK LAY-OFFS MEAN?!

And, to say that “we don’t work on commission” isn’t exactly true. The consultants and WM advisors are paid on an even worse scheme than commission, meaning that they have to meet a quota. Forget the idea that if you don’t sell people worthless products you won’t get extra cash that paycheck, instead with TIAA-CREF, if you don’t sell enough over a period of time you loose your job.

Be honest!!

This is what poor performance means for the consultants and advisors.

To add to this, where I work, I get to work with people on both the Asset Management (the people choosing what stocks to invest into) and Client Services (the consults and advisors participants meet with) sides.

Both sides are in trouble. People I’ve spoken to in Asset Management admit that they’re loosing a lot of money, but they will be preforming career suicide if anyone from that department ever came out with a heart and let people know the trouble their futures are really in. Perhaps the dept. should think of changing it’s name to “covering our Asses Management.”

Client Services is struggling to keep selling contract and bring money in, so they tweak the truth to get people signed up, then they blame everyone else when the participant calls the company screaming “Shannigans!”

The grass isn’t greener on the other side if you leave the company, in fact, all the lawns in the neighborhood look pretty scorched.

Also, I don’t have faith in the CEO, but I do have a good idea why he was hired. (Shady government connections from both Ferguson and his wife?)

I’m not really into conspiracy theories, but this is a little too obvious.

His wife served as the SEC Commissioner as the representative on the Financial Stability Forum since its inception in 1999 until January 31st 2008.

But, I guess once again I’m the only one to see a connection in all of this.

Also, am I the only one that finds it a little odd that she was head of the “Financial Stability Forum” of collapsing economy?

If you want to Google her, her name is Annette L. Nazareth.

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avatar 155 Anonymous September 27, 2008 at 12:33 am

“Still with TIAA-CREF” HAHAHAH!!

CLUELESS…

TIAA-CREF is one of the most financially sound in the financial services industry. There were layoffs to trim the fat.

First off, learn to spell.. It is “losing money”, not loosing money. Yeah, TIAA has been in the red for a little while.. We are not going anywhere though.. Rest assured.

AAA ratings folks.. From Moody’s and S&P.. It still means something.. Regardless of what some people who know very little say on this blog.

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avatar 156 Anonymous September 27, 2008 at 1:28 am

I am in CalStrs and recently enrolled w/ T/C. I’ve read all of the comments about the horrors with T/C and bracing for for trouble in the future. So, I would like to know if your (Rob #67 April 8, 2008) problems were satisfactorily resolved.

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avatar 157 Anonymous September 27, 2008 at 6:21 pm

For the Greater Good: Sorry to burst it to you, but AAA ratings very little- they are based on past performance and do not necessarily dictate whether or not the company will be able to pay claims in the future. I will remind you of another insurance company that was AAA rated, it is called AIG and it is in financial trouble because it was allowed to keep pennies on reserve for each dollar of claims- which came in two weeks ago with these mortgage backed securities. Also, these mortgage backed securities were also rated AAA and we now see that they were junk . So you and the others can tout AAA, Morningstar ratings, etc- they are all based on the past information and mean nothing to the astute investor.

Still with TIAA-CREF: I agree with you, in that I also have no faith in the new CEO due in part to his performance at Swiss-Re. He is great at cost cutting, but not growth. In regards to the lay-offs, when workers have a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over them is bad for morale.

JayKay: see how it goes and if you are not happy with TIAA-CREF, see if you can 90-24 your money to another company. Read up on a 90-24 transfer and see if you will be able to do it. Also, definitely brace for trouble in the future, especially if you have to call because then you will really experience the incompetence of TIAA-CREF (expect to be re-routed throughout the US to get your question asked).

Lastly, as I reiterate from my previous posts months ago- financially educate yourself! Don’t rely on ratings and free advice is not always the best advice. Read the prospectus (however poorly it is put together) and look at the fund management fees as well as the turnover rate (high turnover rate denotes that the portfolio manager is trading a lot and that cost is transferred to the shareholders). As “Still with TIAA-CREF” previously stated, educate yourself, shop around and then make a choice.

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avatar 158 Anonymous September 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

My apologies for my previous post in which I had stated that AIG was AAA- they were actually downgraded in the past to AA, but this was well after the rating agencies knew how much they were involved in mortgage back securities (specifically insuring them against default with credit default swaps). My point is don’t rely too much on credit ratings because there is a lot of controversy surrounding them (especially giving AAA ratings to these MBSs). These rating agencies are third parties that are usually paid for by the businesses that they are rating (therefore a bit subjective). While TIAA-CREF may be able to pay out there claims now, you really don’t know what to expect in the future. Also, while TIAA-CREF has been around for 90 years or so, remember that Lehman Brothers was around for 100+ years and many didn’t think that they would fall. Educate yourselves, shop around and find a place that fits you.

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avatar 159 Anonymous September 28, 2008 at 8:25 pm

It amazes me of all the gloom and doom and misinformation that is being blogged here.

Joe,
You are wrong and not very astute.. I have been in this business for 15 years and I know a thing or two about financial services. AAA credit ratings have nothing to due with past performance.. You’re confusing these ratings with mutual fund ratings. Where do you get your financial info from? Mad Magazine or National Lampoon? .

First off, Moody’s and S&P are independent rating agencies and cannot be bought off.

AAA ratings for an insurance company are incredibly important. Insurance companies are not FDIC insured. So, financial stability is very important. A company’s rating is a barometer of its ability to pay a claim down the road. A high rating indicates the company has plenty of assets and reserves available to pay claims. AAA is a rating that means that a company is extremely strong financially and has more than enough assets in reserve to pay all claims.

Ratings are typically derived from an evaluation of a company’s balance sheet strength, operating performance, and business profile, among other factors. Some of the most respected ratings agencies are A.M. Best, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s.

TIAA is only one of three companies I believe that still have AAA ratings. NY Life and Mass Mutual are the others I believe.

TIAA-CREF is not going anywhere folks.. Yeah, there are some problems, and we they are continuing to fix them, but the company has a very bright future especially with its Wealth Management and Brokerage areas.

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avatar 160 Anonymous September 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

For the Greater Good: No, I am not confusing it with a mutual fund rating- S&P, Moody’s & Fitch’s do not rate mutual funds (Morningstar does)-they rate the debt securities in the bond funds. Whether it is a debt security or an insurance company, these credit rating agencies are rating whether or not the business will be able to pay (claims or debt obligations).

In regards to TIAA-CREF (and AIG), its rating is based upon whether it will be able to pay out its claims (as you had explained). With a debt security, the rating based on whether or not the business will be able to repay the principle and interest on that debt. So, both involve the ability to pay and are ratings based on that-therefore insurance company ratings and debt security ratings are similar.

As we are seeing with our economic problem, these mortgage backed securities were rated AAA when they were “junk”. The MBSs were not transparent, but rather complex-much like an insurance company’s accounting system. Also, these rating agencies are paid for by the businesses that they are rating. Therefore, these ratings cannot be trusted and it is asinine for one to invest based on ratings or posters stating that their company is AAA rated.

Lastly, these ratings are based on past (and present) information (e.g. the balance sheet is information from previous quarters) – they can only give you a prediction, not a guarantee. While an insurance company may have enough assets to cover their claims at the time when the credit rating agency is doing its analysis, some assets may not be able to get the price that is evaluated (e.g. AIG- we see now that its assets were not as liquid as previously thought).

While you may continue to state that TIAA-CREF is not going anywhere- you are only making a prediction, much like the those previously at Lehman’s. However, risk is a factor that most of us investors take with our money with the hope that there will be a reward in the future.

So I will restate my main point- don’t put too much stock into ratings, but do some research about the company and funds that you wish to invest in before investing. As “Still w/ TIAA-CREF” previously posted, shop around and find a company that will make you happy.

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avatar 161 Anonymous September 29, 2008 at 7:35 pm

“For the Greater Good” continued: As aforementioned, these ratings are based on a business’ ability to pay- whether it be a CLAIM (as with an insurance companies such as TIAA-CREF, AIG, etc) or a DEBT (such as a bond, MBS, etc). If these ratings were so great and reliable, why would there be a market for insurance against default of the debt securities (called credit default swaps)? If something is AAA rated, there should be no problem or worry of not getting repaid. However, the truth is these ratings are not reliable or guaranteed. Also, their credibility has been questioned in the past few years, especially now after this MBS debacle.

So being that you claim that you have 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, and seem to know very little except how to relay messages usually inputted in marketing materials (“AAA ratings folks”), I suggest that you ask your superiors for retraining in Charlotte (I believe that is where the financial training for TC occurs).

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avatar 162 Anonymous October 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Hi Everyone –

How enlightening this has been. I feel bad for all the employees who have had such terrible experiences. Especially those that uprooted their families only to find no job when they got there.

My husband is currently working there and you are right they have lost their focus and it has become very sales and quota oriented. It has not been a good place for him to hang his hat. The support and processes are terrible and they do not value life outside of work. The expectation is you work all the time, lately we feel like they own him. He loves the client part of his job and works hard, it has just been a very tough road for our family. To make matters worse, the expectations are not clear and constructive feedback is dismissed, instead you are labeled as a complainer. Never mind fixing the problem and getting on with it. They don’t want to hear it.

Prior to working for this company he was a highly valued employee. The company is still around and doing very well. Employees there are still happy, I want him to go back but that means relocation. We are sorry he made the decision to join this firm. Money isn’t everything. Basically, his boss is a robot and it seems that is all they hire lately and all they want you to be. Everyone is just afraid for their jobs all the time.

He doesn’t even know I am posting this and would be very upset if he found out. He has faith in the new CEO, however I think things are getting worse. I keep telling him to find another job but that is something he hasn’t tried to do. Easier said then done in this economy I guess. After all the word at the office is that everyone is replaceable. I think they should begin appreciating their employees and thanking everyone for their efforts. After all, a little thanks goes a long way. He is working a 14 hour day to keep up. Last year he particpated in some kind of survey and was told that the results would be shared. They never were… just like everything else, mgmt doesn’t do what they say. I can tell you from the little time we have to talk, the people that work out in the field offices are not happy.

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avatar 163 Anonymous October 1, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Wife of a Crefer: My wife was once in your shoes. God bless you for your patience, understanding, and support that you provide to your husband who is under stress. In my most recent position at TIAA I was a Weath Management Advisor. I worked with some people who were in their 30’s taking high blood pressure medication because of the stress. These people were the Cref-For-Life types and feared that there was no life after TIAA-CREF. News Flash: There Is!!!! I’d like to say that things will get better but the reality is that the current atmosphere is one of “what have you done for me lately?”. You meet or exceed your goals one year and you’re ok. Fall short of your goal the next year and then you’re expendable- no matter what. Fortunately, I did see the general direction of the company and made a change that was best for me (and most importantly, my family). I wish you and your husband the best. I wish all of the rank and file TIAA people the best too. The purpose of my posts has been to voice my disappointment in what TIAA-CREF has become since 2003. Obviously, Herb Allison should shoulder the brunt of the heat but the trustees and board members are just as bad. I doubt that Andrew Carnegie be impressed either.

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avatar 164 Anonymous October 1, 2008 at 10:37 pm

“You meet or exceed your goals one year and you’re ok. Fall short of your goal the next year and then you’re expendable-”

It is difficult for a participant to understand what the goals of a WMA and others employees would be. Could someone give some examples and how they are measured.

Also, understand that there is a bonus system. What does a WMA have to do get a bonus? Similar question for mid and upper management/

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avatar 165 Anonymous October 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

The last annual goal that I experienced as a WMA was to bring in new assets in the amount of $12 million (per advisor). New assets included rollovers (retirement), asset transfers (brokerage), life insurance, etc. The bonus for the WMA was based upon meeting this goal and the bonus for the Director and upper mgmt was exponentially larger based upon the performance of the WMAs under his/her supervision. While the advice given is supposed to be unbiased, the WMA is put in a difficult position to meet the goal and keep his/her job. Although the so-called advice is supposedly generated via a software program, each recommendation will indeed involve the “consolidation” of assets with TIAA-CREF. Some advice was excellent and other recommendations were questionable at best. To say that none of the advisors are paid on a commission basis is correct but that doens’t mean that his/her compensation isn’t tied into the sales aspect of the position either. The WMAs that I was priviledged to work with were excellent and honest people. I cannot say the same for our Directors and upper management.

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avatar 166 Anonymous October 2, 2008 at 10:08 am

Clearly the WMA’s are instructed to lure higher net worth individuals to tranfer all their holdings to TC. I met with a WMA for a “free” consultation and he couldn’t hand me the tranfer papers fast enough. If you think TC is different than Fidelity or any for profit outfit you are wrong. Non profit these days just means no stockholders . The executives get big bucks and perks no different than than any Wall Street firm. BTW it took them 3 months to get my income on time and in the correct amounts. TC has definitely lost their way. When they started to compete with Wall Street they became the same as WS.

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avatar 167 Anonymous October 2, 2008 at 10:51 am

Thank you, LHR74, for explaining the “incentives” in t-c’s “salary plus incentives” compensation system. As a participant, I have been very curious about this. For t-c to claim that its advisors are not paid a commission may be technically correct but certainly dishonest.

Thanks also to Joe for steadfastly debunking the boasted-of AAA ratings. You are, of course, right.

Question for “For the greater good”: Are you, perchance the poster formerly known as “Cref for life”?

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avatar 168 Anonymous October 3, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Hello,

I would love to work with you regarding your finanical planning and be your trusted advisor. My cell number is 631-662-7886

Thanks,

E. Aris, CFP, MBA

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avatar 169 Anonymous October 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Well, I thought I was ready to retire. I made very clear when I purchased a TIAA contract that I could role over my funds into my vested retirement account with a state government retirement system. I went to do it this week to find out that my TIAA annunity didn’t allow a pay out unless with was over 10 years. Funny, the T/C rep didn’t tell me that, even when I made it very clear I did not plan to annuitize and would be needing to take to money out to role it over. Still, I need to buy back those years to be eligilbe for retirement in my state system. So, I can’t retire, I can’t take out a loan on the money. Not only that, since I worked in two different states that have differing rules. One of my TIAA annuity funds can’t even be directly payed out to me over 10 years. I have to first put the money in an IRA or roll it over into another retirement plan. Then they can give me my money over 10 years (Louisiana).

Is TIAA the only company that creates these hurdles? Is this in the best interest of people in higher education, often changing states? I’m questioning the value of these retirement plans. Yes, they protect our money. They protect it so much, they aren’t going to let us have it at retirement. Maybe it’s time to warn the masses that what we think we are getting at the front end is nothing like it’s going to be at the back end. I fear for younger folks in these hard economic times. Somebody needs to warn them that no sales person really tells all when they are making a sale. Nobody really makes clear the state stipulations on your account either. We are shackled with both sets of rules.

What good is a great and secure return rate on your money, when you can’t get your hands on it?

I too will write my letter to SEC and follow the good suggestions posted on this webpage. What else can we do to spread the word and warn the innocent about what really happens with retirement plans?

It’s too late for me. I hope this will help others. Remember, when starting a new job and being overwhelmed in orientation, the retirement planning people are coming. You think they are helping you. If you want really want to know what is going on, talk to people who have retired recently from your institution. They may have a very different picture of companies to invest with.

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avatar 170 Anonymous October 13, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Problems with TIAA-CREFwebsite availability Friday, October 10?

I am curious if other people experienced login delays and dropped connections last Friday afternoon. I had no success in making a transaction after multiple tries from roughly 2 pm to 3:45 or so.

I am not getting an explanation from TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 171 Anonymous October 14, 2008 at 8:09 am

I had the same problem last Friday, but this one (for a change) may be excusable. The whole world was selling stock and the system was probably overwhelmed.

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avatar 172 Anonymous October 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm

I’ve been in TIAA CREF since 1977 and never really thought one way or another about it until I approached retirement since the only other option when I entered the system was our state retirement plan which I didn’t find attractive. I still would not go with the state plan, but now that there are other optional plans available I sure wouldn’t go with TIAA CREF. My biggest complaint is the very poor service I have received. I echo many comments above when I say that contact with the wealth management group at TIAA CREF will get you a different person every time. They tell you that you have a “personal advisor”, but he or she changes frequently and is almost impossible to find. It is also evident that the more you have in the account the better your chances of getting some help and they tell you that they will assign you someone to work closely with you – but the catch is you have to have at least $800,000 with them. I missed by about $35,000 and was relegated to the second level. Also, I have been given very different answers to the same question on more than one occasion.

Frankly, I think that TIAA CREF is still rooted in the days when it had no competition, was tax exempt and didn’t have to be able to provide investment advice. Now that it must offer more options for investment to be competitive it doesn’t have the personnel to do the job well. It also doesn’t really perform as well as other options – I put my 403B with another company and it out-performed CREF and also didn’t take as bad a hit this past week. The real fun was rolling over my CREF to this other financial institution. It only took 8 phone calls over two weeks to get the right forms (which, strange to say, are not available on the web). However, at the end of it I did get the rollover. Because of the nature of our plan agreement TIAA can’t be moved and only 50% of the total TIAA CREF could be moved.

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avatar 173 Anonymous October 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

In response to the last comment (#163), I wish to say that my Wife and I have also been going through hell trying to get our funds moved into another company. We are simply trying to move our T-C money market funds into an “approved” 403b account at Vanguard.

After weeks of phone calls, we are no closer now than we were before we started. The current roadblock is getting T-C to send the proper form to allow the transfer of assets. They claim that it cannot be e-mailed, and is not available on the website as this is not considered a rollover. It is a simple asset transfer to another plan of the same type (403b).

I have also had T-C reps contradict each other as to whether or not it can be faxed. Regardless, I have had one rep who “put in” a request that it be faxed to me and of course several phone calls later I still have not recieved a fax.

The level of incompetence is unsurpassed. If anyone knows how to get the form out of them I would really appreciate the info.

We have been with Tiaa-Cref for over 20 years. My observations have been that when a company reaches the point where customer service is allowed to decay to low levels for an extended period of time, they ultimately (regardless of ratings) do not survive. When we started this process, our intentions were to simply move a portion of our current assets over to Vanguard, and keep all future paycheck contributions directed to T-C so we would have accounts at both companies. We are now going to get everything out of T-C and close the account as soon as possible.

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avatar 174 Anonymous October 18, 2008 at 8:22 pm

In all fairness, I just retrieved my mail and the forms are here!!!!!!!!!

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avatar 175 Anonymous October 20, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Joe… I got news for you.. I forgot more than you know about this industry.. And for your information, TIAA had absolutely no exposure to the subprime crisis. Again, talking with you is like beating the crap out of a dead horse. There are only 3 insurance companies in the US that have AAA ratings. Do you know how hard it is to obtain a AAA rating? AIG at it’s height never had a AAA rating and we now see why.. Even some respected insurance companies like Jackson National and Met Life et al, can’t sniff AAA ratings..

And if you say that ratings mean nothing in the insurance industry, than we all better take our monies out and stuff our mattresses. Remember, no FDIC in the insurance industry, so this is all you have to go by.

I work in this industry. And I have done so for a long time. Remember I know more than you SIR.

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avatar 176 Anonymous October 21, 2008 at 12:32 am

No offense “For The Greater Good” but you do TIAA-CREF a dis-service acting in that manner. I don’t care how long you have worked in the industry, it is no excuse to treat clients… whether potential or exiting that way. Learn some respect for the people who ultimately fund your paycheck. It’s financial jerks like you that give the entire industry a bad name.

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avatar 177 Anonymous October 21, 2008 at 9:32 am

“For the greater good” continues to illustrate Bertrand Russell’s dictum that “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.” If T-C can’t find a more knowlegeable and less obnoxious shill than this, the company is in even worse shape than I thought.

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avatar 178 Anonymous October 21, 2008 at 11:03 am

For the Greater Good: With every post you reveal how little you know about the field that you worked in for 15 years. It is obvious that you only know how to read and relay marketing messages. To reiterate my previous suggestion-either go back for training in Charlotte or take some economics, business or finance courses (from my knowledge, TIAA-CREF offers tuition reimbursement or some such plan).

It seems that you still don’t understand how these ratings work, so I will succinctly restate with the hope that something sinks in. These ratings, whether it is for a debt security or a claim, are rating the ability of a company to pay its obligations (the premise is the same). These ratings are unreliable and not guaranteed, especially after our current financial crisis, in which these mortgage backed securities were rated AAA (when they should’ve been rated “junk”). If these ratings were so reliable, there would be little or no market for “credit default swaps” (insurance for the debt securities) and we wouldn’t be in our current financial mess.

While you are correct that there is no FDIC insurance in investments within a brokerage or insurance company, you are (ONCE AGAIN) incorrect that these ratings are the only thing to go on. One must do his/her own research and analysis of the company and its funds-much like one researches individual stocks. If you do rely on these ratings, instead of performing your own due diligence, then you might as well put your money under your mattress.

I don’t know what rock you crawled out from under if you think TIAA-CREF had no exposure to the sub-prime crisis, which eventually led to this financial mess. I suggest that you read up on our current economic state and take a look at the returns of TC funds (as well as the turnover rates at the end of the year-which is another expense passed off to the investors and one that will lower the ROI)

Do No Good: you are correct that “For the Greater Good’s” posts do a disservice to the company because the more nonsense that he posts, the less credibility myself and others have of the financial acumen of the company, as he is a reflection of the company. However, I do want to commend TC for finally attempting to improve customer service by allowing a caller to bypass the switchboard operator and input an extension, thus reaching one’s party quicker (although you usually get voicemail, but it’s a start).

Frank: Love the quote and I agree with your assumption that “Cref for Life” and “For the Greater Good” are the same.

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avatar 179 Anonymous October 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Firstly, I just wanted to apologize to all posters and readers for my extensive posts condemning these credit ratings and for going a bit off topic with my feud with “Cref for Life” or “For the Greater Good” (or whatever he wants to be called). However, for those who are interested, these credit rating agencies were scrutinized today by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. Although they mainly discussed and questioned the AAA ratings of these mortgage backed securities, one could get the idea of how these agencies operate and therefore make his or her own conclusions about the ratings.

In my opinion, these ratings are dubious and are no substitute for one’s own due diligence. Although I didn’t get to see all of the hearing, Representative Elijah Cummings made a great analogy in reference to the conflict of interest with these credit rating agencies (they are paid for by the company that they rate) – to paraphrase: ‘It is like a seller of a house hiring & paying for the inspector, instead of the buyer’.

To Cref for Life/For the Greater Good or whatever you want to be called: In reference to your denial of my previous comment that these ratings are based on past information: at today’s hearing, Fitch’s Stephen Joynt stated “to win back investor confidence, ratings must be more predictive and must tell the market about what might happen, instead of what happened yesterday”-therefore, bolstering the fact that the financial model of these ratings are mainly based on historical data.

Also in response to your comment that AIG was never AAA rated even at its height- wrong again! Deven Sharma of S&P stated today that AIG was AAA rated 2 years ago when questioned by Representative Speier on how AIG was AA rated (still investment grade) 2 days before being on the verge of bankruptcy. In case you don’t believe the words of S&P President, an “Insurance Journal” article dated March 25, 2003 is titled: “S&P Affirms AIG’s ‘AAA’ ratings” and it continues to state that “the outlook of all of the these companies (AIG and it’s subsidiaries) is stable”. I guess that they never thought about the fact that AIG was only keeping pennies in reserve for every dollar of claim with the bond insurance (credit default swaps) it sold and never thought that the claims would come in a much as they did when these MBSs defaulted last month. It’s time for you to go back to school and learn the world of finance, being that you supposedly worked in this area for 15 years and know very little except how to relay marketing messages.

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avatar 180 Anonymous October 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm

To MIA718 (and anyone else who is having problems getting a cash out):

I tried to cash out on September 28th and was told that, because I moved to a different state, that I would have to wait two weeks for my check to be sent out. Okay, I was fine with that. HOWEVER, when they did supposedly send it, they mailed it to my old address. On October 14th, I called just to make sure it was sent and I was given this information.

THEN, I was told that a person would be put on my case, and that the case would be expedited. I was also told that the person would call me – well, she did. FIVE DAYS LATER. She assured me in her message (on October 21st) that the check was in the mail, and would arrive in 3-5 days. Um. It’s now NINE DAYS later and nothing has arrived. So, I call an inept customer representative person and he told me that all he could do was put THE SAME PERSON on my case and that she would be calling me within 72 hours. Yeah, we’ll see about that.

Much like many Americans, I’m not working and really need MY money. I’m sorry that I told my friends to start up retirement accounts with this company. I’ll never, ever do that, again.

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avatar 181 Anonymous October 31, 2008 at 9:45 am

As a follow-up to my last post, I have been trying to get a manager on the line all morning. It just doesn’t happen. The customer service representative keeps telling me that all he can do is email the managerial department. Essentially, I am at the mercy of a department that will not seem to call me back. I have the person’s phone number who is working on my case and she never answers her phone, and will not call me back. Does anyone have ANY suggestions on how I can talk to a person, not an unresponsive robot?

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avatar 182 Anonymous October 31, 2008 at 10:04 am

Call 800-842-2733 and asked to be connected to one of the senior executives you can find on the website. There are several who have the word customer or service in their titles. Threaten to take your complaint to the SEC. Don’t get off the phone until you speak to someone.

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avatar 183 Anonymous November 2, 2008 at 9:23 am

I tried getting someone on the phone for twenty minutes, telling the customer service person that I wasn’t going to get off of the phone until I spoke to a manager. He couldn’t transfer me to ANYONE, or give me a direct phone number to ANY other department. The best he could do, he said, is to email his manager, who would then get back to me 24-48 hours later.

By the way, the count is now 13 days beyond the day when they (supposedly) mailed out my check. When a manager finally did call me on Friday (after I lambasted her phone line), she admitted that it was a possibility that the check didn’t leave the building when she told me that it did, and that it could have been five or so days after that date. This is what they call expedited service, after I’ve already struggled through one of their screw-ups? I’ll be surprised if I ever really see that check in my mailbox, and now I am insisting that they direct deposit it into my bank account, which is what they should have offered in the first place. I found out that they do this on accident, when a customer service person blurted out that they sometimes do that.

I’m guessing that my experience probably mirrors the experience of more than one person, based on their responses and behavior. A friend of mine who works in the financial industry told me on Saturday that he doubts that they have sent it, and that they are holding onto the money as long as they can. He also told me that companies will often string people along, just so they can squeeze a little more interest out of it. This from an insider, folks, it wasn’t me who said it.

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avatar 184 Anonymous November 2, 2008 at 9:32 am

For the Greater Good:

I’d like to see how you would respond to a situation where your money was tied up for weeks, and possibly months. You really reiterate the nature of the company by bullying people on this board.

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avatar 185 Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 9:20 am

i would like to with deaw hardship lone

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avatar 186 Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 9:21 am

who am i supose to talk too

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avatar 187 Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

To Former-TIAA CREF Employee:

Thank you for that 1-800 number. The person that I got through to via this route has been the most helpful person that I have talked to, so far. They sent my check out on Friday via overnight express, but the person who was “taking care” of my account never called me to let me know. I had an appointment to speak with her on the phone early this morning and, guess what, she never called me.

I’m definitely filing a complaint with TC and the SEC.

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avatar 188 Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 11:49 pm

I believe you would have more success filing your complaint with the New York State Insurance Department, instructions are at the website http://www.ins.state.ny.us/complhow.htm . TIAA/CREF is registered with this department as are all of their various insurance products, both fixed and variable. The SEC is a good route, but they have their hands full with broker and advisor complaints. I would also register your complaints with your employer/plan sponsor and ask for their involvement on your behalf. Make sure all complaints are in writing as they are not considered complaints under SEC and FINRA laws unless they are. If your plan is an ERISA plan, you may have remedies through that avenue as plan administration requirements, etc., under ERISA are very clearly explained and laid out. Make sure you get “as of” trades so that the transactions happen as of the date you initiated the request.

Sorry to hear about all the problems, but not surprised. TIAA/CREF has become complacent over the years and until they get over their entitlement attitude (i.e. they are entitled to your business, they don’t have to earn the right to serve you), they won’t get fixed. They are losing clients (at the institutional level), and their demographics are bad. If your average customer is over 50 years old and begins installment retirement payments, and you are losing future contributions from existing clients because you’re being replaced by new providers, you have a long term financial problem. The new IRS 403(b) regulations will result in the elimination of multiple vendor programs, and plan sponsors will select one provider going forward for all faculty and staff contributions after 1/1/09 and into 2009 & beyond to simplify compliance. Will that provider be TIAA/CREF? We’ll see, but early returns don’t look good.

You are right to demand better from your provider–you deserve that and if they don’t deliver, to the extent you can, move to another provider via contract exchange (which replaces the old 90-24 transfers under the new regs). It will take time on the Traditional Annuity, but there are companies out there that value your business.

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avatar 189 Anonymous November 4, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Interested Bystander:

Thank you for your insight, I will definitely take it to heart.

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avatar 190 Anonymous November 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I noticed a write up that indicates TIAA-CREF is planning to go for-profit:

“A member asked whether TIAA-CREF’s restructuring strategy includes plans to move to a for-profit platform. Yes, stated Mr. Wilcox.”

Ref: http://www1.umn.edu/usenate/retirement/05-11-07.html

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avatar 191 Anonymous November 9, 2008 at 7:28 am

Note the date of the meeting: November 2005

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avatar 192 Anonymous November 13, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I am interested in knowing if anyone else has had my experience with the survivor benefits section of TIAA CREF. They have under-reported the funds owed to the beneficiaries and the estate by tens of thousands of dollars. If you are a beneficiary of a TIAA-CREF retirement account for a deceased person, watch out and check numbers for yourself. Don’t rely on them calculating things correctly.

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avatar 193 Anonymous November 15, 2008 at 7:02 pm

I have never seen more whining since my nursing beagle got locked out from her puppies by accident!

TIAA-CREF pays out more income second only to Social Security! They converted an old and decaying computer platform while remaining open for business.

Any issues they have are surely not due to trying to “take you to the cleaners!” Try to run a non profit in a for profit world! You whiners should all take your money to AIG, Lehman, Merrill and WM

Devote some of your energy to exploring what little exposure they have to subprime mortgage and how much expsosure they had to Enron when companies like Merrill we falling over themselves to givce money to the big E Enron!

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avatar 194 Anonymous November 16, 2008 at 2:51 pm

To: Wiley Coyoye (sic):
I hope your name, however misspelled, does not prove to be more appropriate than you intended. The original Wile E. Coyote, you will recall, used to run off cliffs and remain suspended confidently in midair until he came to realize there was nothing solid underfoot. Let’s all hope that your confidence in TIAA’s investments is not similarly misplaced.

Incidentally, are you the same person who used to comment as “cref for life” and/or “for the greater good”? If so welcome back! We’ve missed your spewing of pointless invective in response to substantive issues.

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avatar 195 Anonymous November 17, 2008 at 10:30 am

Hey Wiley,
I would move my money in a flash as soon as your company (TIAA CREF) coughs up the money it stole.

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avatar 196 Anonymous November 19, 2008 at 10:38 pm

I’ve worked for TIAA for over twelve years. One word comes to mind thinking about managements capability – CHAOS. I’ve never seen a place so mismanaged and I’ve never seen management so over paid. Even after they implemented a new computer platform this company is still 20 years behind the times. In our department the new computer system has wrecked havoc. One day we’re told to do something one way then the next day we’re told another way. Sometimes things change by the hour. One payment department is easily one month behind from the new computer system. Here’s a typical example of clueless management. They open up a new processing center outside of Dallas. They spend all kinds of money and time training people, setting up a computer systems and getting up to speed. Then within a year they close the center and lay everyone off. Starting phone reps use to make a great salary but not any more. CEO Ferguson wants to find the cheapest labor on the street to hire for new phone reps and to work at TIAA. This equates to people who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t stay around very long. Now after 1000’s of layoffs he wants some of the remaining employees to “reapply” for their jobs. People have to resubmit their resumes and interview for the same jobs they have had for years. If they’re offered their job back it’s at a lower pay rate. Moral was already low now it’s rock bottom. My advice if you have money at TIAA is to get it out, if you can, and if you have money to invest stay away. By the way I can insure you Ferguson isn’t giving up any of his bonus or pay while he lays people off and cuts their wages.

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avatar 197 Anonymous November 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

My Father died in June. Thankfully before he passed he sat with us and explained his estate and confirmed that our TIAA-CREF beneficiary information. We all made a plan that I would be his personal representative. Soon after his passing I received the letters from the court and notified TIAA-CREF of his passing. They immediately cut off all account access and account information has never been seen since. Here is where our Hell began. They took weeks to send out my Beneficiary packet and repeatedly sent it to wrong addresses. Where did they mail my personal information? Once the packet arrived (fourth attempt), I filled out and returned all required paperwork. There was no communication to me whatsoever. I always had to call and begin my inquiry with a 30 minute wait while the phone rep puts me on hold. All of the phone calls I made lasted 2+ hours (Mostly me being put on hold while they try to figure something out) and in the end, no information was available, but they logged the call and would have a Manager call me back within 24hrs (Never happened). In October they told me they received the paperwork, everything is in order, but it was still in process. It is now the end of November and my last communication with them is that they can’t find my contracts? They refuse to put me through to a Manager, never follow up on promised return phone calls and readily acknowledge that they screwed up my account. A cannot get a balance and they said they don’t know where the $ is? The only saving grace is that my father gave me his June statement listing his TIAA-CREF assets. My situation is clean and simple. TIAA CREF has taken my father’s money and they are telling me that they don’t know where it is? This has been going on since JUNE, JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, ….. I don’t know what to do? Are there any lawyers out there interested?

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avatar 198 Anonymous May 27, 2009 at 9:56 am

Dear Beyond Belief,
I was just reading about your frustrations with this organization. Any resolution? I am finding myself in a situation with them and am feeling at a loss. I am 44 and my husband was 43 when he died last year. It would be nice to hear from you.

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avatar 199 Anonymous May 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Kathy.
Have you resolved your claim?
Am just in the process a few months and it is frusterating.
Jai

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avatar 200 Anonymous May 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Dear Beyond beliefe

Am in a similar benefit situation after my friends death.
Have you resolved the issues you had with TIAA?
It is not fun.
Jai

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avatar 201 Anonymous November 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Hello Beyond Belief
I suggest that you first call the US Department of Labor and ask to talk to an agent about problem with retirement account. Don’t trust any number that TIAA CREF gives you. Verify everything. You can get the historical values of the TIAA-CREF funds at the time of passing of your dad through online financial web sites. I find it amazing that TIAA-CREF can get away with these things in this day and age.
Good luck.

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avatar 202 Anonymous November 29, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Beyond Belief,
Here are 2 things you should do:
1. Get in touch with the employer(s) that contributed to TIAA on your father’s behalf. contact the college or university Business Officer.
2. Go to the TIAA-CREF website and select one of the senior managers, call 1-800-842-2733 and ask for that individual. Do not get off the phone until you are connected. I suggest the EVP VanDolsen.

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avatar 203 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

First, I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this at such a hard time in your life. My case wasn’t nearly as consuming as yours, but I know the frustration. I suggest listening to Former TIAA-CREF employee’s advice, as that is what FINALLY got me through my nightmare.

“Call 800-842-2733 and asked to be connected to one of the senior executives you can find on the website. There are several who have the word customer or service in their titles. Threaten to take your complaint to the SEC. Don’t get off the phone until you speak to someone.”

Do this, it works.

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avatar 204 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm

All, thanks for the advice. This really is as outrageous as it sounds.
I will contact the following below. Any additional ideas will be appreciated.

1. I will E-Mail my story to every business news outlet that I can identify.

2. Contact the US Department of Labor and ask to talk to an agent.

3. Contact the University of Alaska that contributed to TIAA on my father’s behalf.

4. Contact the Alaska Governors office.

5. Contact California Governors office.

6. Go to the TIAA-CREF website and select one of the senior managers, call 1-800-842-2733 and ask for that individual. Not get off the phone until I am connected. Maybe EVP VanDolsen ? or senior executive on the website with the word customer or service in their titles

7. File a complaint with the New York State Insurance Department, instructions are at the website http://www.ins.state.ny.us/complhow.htm

8. E-Mail the TC Board, [email protected], via their website.

9. File a complaint against TIAA-CREF with the SEC at the following link: http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.

10. Google every blog I can find and communicate this story to the whole world.

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avatar 205 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Hello Beyond Belief,
I had contacted the SEC, but since this involves a retirement account, the appropriate agency is the US Department of Labor. I contacted them regarding my case. Be prepared to provide detailed information, ideally in writing. They contacted TIAA -CREF. They assured me that a senior TIAA-CREF official will handle and reply. It’s been 2-3 weeks, but no reply yet. If I don’t hear this week, I’ll call the US DOL again. If that does not work, legal is the only recourse left.

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avatar 206 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm

You might see if the Probate Judge overseeing your Father’s estate would issue an order to TIAA-CREF requiring them to present the account information to the court.

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avatar 207 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Beyond Belief:
Maybe a sit-in at a branch office – accompanied, of course, by the news media?

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avatar 208 Anonymous November 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Old Dog,
You are right I will also call them on Monday, Alaska probate court is very people friendly.

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avatar 209 Anonymous December 7, 2008 at 7:26 pm

My TIAA Traditional TPA has been royally screwed up. I have been very ill and I can only pursue them on a day when I am feeling good. I can not get any response from TC regarding what they are paying me. I noticed the amount they were to pay me decreased by $16,000 per year in 2007. I started to track the account through statements and realized something was very wrong. Too date, repeated calls have resulted in a letter telling me I had no money in that contract that paid the $16,000. I called in response to the letter and was told it was send to me in error. Of course, there was no restoration of the $16,000. I asked for a complete accounting of what was in the account and what was paid to me. Then, I received a letter, which was pure gibberish, and my CPA could make no sense of it. I am frustrated, angry, and at a loss as to how to proceed.

When I tried to removed my CREF money, ultimately, I had to hire an attorney to accomplish that. Tons of paper and three years later, we had the money.

Is there someone out there who can tell me what words I can use to have TC explain what they have done with my TPA? What questions can I ask them? Because I have learned if you do not know the question, you will not get an answer. My account numbers have changed so much that tracking what is going on from account to account has been massive undertaking. TC tells me they can not provide me with a computer printout for the TPA since it started. Could this possibly be true?

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avatar 210 Anonymous December 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm

I’ve advised others to do this and it seems to work: Check the TIAA-CREF executives on their website. Call 1-800-842-2733 and ask for one of those execs (preferably one with “Service” in their title) and don’t get off the phone until you are connected. Threaten to call the TIAA-CREF Trustees, the SEC or NY Insurance Department until you are satisfied.

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avatar 211 Anonymous January 6, 2009 at 1:15 am

After reading all that, I am scared and I am seriously thinking about moving all my retirement money from T-C to a company like Vanguard. If some of you have done that, can you share your experience? Thanks.

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avatar 212 Anonymous January 22, 2009 at 9:32 am

The expenses at CREF have grown so much over the last few years that considering a move to a true low-cost competitor, like Vanguard, merits serious consideration, not only for the fees, but for access to a better run organization with tighter processing, leaner management, and broader investment selections. I have spent several years at both companies, CREF being most recent.

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avatar 213 Anonymous January 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm

I just walked my father through this process with TIAA-CREF. He has worked for the University of Maryland system for over 25 years and had all his retirement with TIAA-CREF. While he still believes his retirement dollars are safe he had questions regarding his plan. He is approaching retirement age and couldn’t get any answers from TIAA-CREF regarding his current investments, or how those investments would be allocated when he does retire. He turned to me since I am a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. He was so frustrated with the customer service he wanted to move the money out of the plan into an individual IRA. He was told he could not take he money out of the plan unless he retired or was terminated, but he still received no answers from TIAA-CREF related to how his plan will be allocated when he retires. I went through his documents and discovered that his plan would be distributed over 10 year after he initiates the payments in retirement. He was unaware of this and decided he would attempt to roll the entire plan into an IRA when he does retire. I hope he doesn’t have the same problems other like you have had. If I can be of any help you can reply here and I can attempt to help you as well.

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avatar 214 Anonymous January 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm

If your father has been contributing to T/C for 25 years, I find it unusual that he would have so little understanding of how his retirement program operates. At my institution T/C representatives held almost annual seminars and individual meetings with faculty to explain all the programs. Also, the personnel departments at most universities usually have someone who specializes in T/C matters.

If your father can get onto his computer while on the phone with a T/C rep, they will walk him through their T/C website (www.tiaa-cref.org) where he can get information about his account and get infomation and/or order publications about T/C programs and investments.

If he has a mid 6 figure account with T/C, he can request having a WMA assigned to him, who would have more knowledge about his particular needs, than the average phone rep he might encounter.

There also are some discussion sites where he can ask questions about T/C in particular and other investment and retirement issues.

The first would be the TIAA-CREF Funds forum at the morningstar site where participants discuss T/C issues. (http://socialize.morningstar.com/NewSocialize/forums/100000044/ShowForum.aspx)

Another valuable site would be that of the Bogleheads at http://www.bogleheads.org. Would especially recommend that he look at their listings of investment and retirement publications.

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avatar 215 Anonymous January 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm

To BH,

Not all institutions are serviced on an yearly basis. Some are lucky to get a rep every few years.

Also, since when did it become the client’s job to have a deep understand of the inner workings of TIAA-CREF?

People that have been employees for 25+ years at TIAA have been given the run around before when it comes to calling the customer service lines.

And, while you may have the assumption that most institutions have someone that specializes in T/C issues, you’d be suprised as to how many have no clue what they are doing when dealing with T/C.

As far as getting a WMA account, it is really worthless and the WMA is mostly calling once a year to try to sell more products. A lot of people on here have even complained about that system of customer service.

Frankly, I’m an employee and I will NEVER invest with T/C because I’ve watched them screw over little old ladies waiting to pay for medication, the children of T/C holders when their parents have passed, and I’ve seen those “concerned” consultants come out of a meeting with someone in tears just to laugh about how ridiculous their whining 1 on 1 client was.

Sadly, I’m not talking about an isolated incident or just one consultant.

This company is really sad, and over the last few weeks I’ve been having to have a real battle with my conscious over if I should stay here with an over inflated salary to keep quite about everything I’ve seen, or if I should just move on to another industry all together where I don’t have to feel like I’m lying ever time I say, “the check is in the mail.”

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avatar 216 Anonymous January 28, 2009 at 2:49 am

Sorry to hear about the unpleasant situation at T/C. Is this prevalent throughout T/C or just in the customer service areas,,,,, and how long has this climate existed?

Prior to the 90s it was not difficult, nor even necessary, for clients to understand the workings of TIAA-CREF. Participants only had to decide how to allocate their contributions between CREF Stock and the Traditional Account, and, since you could not withdraw any funds, to select an annuity pay-out program upon retirement.

I’m interested in how much of the present problems and costs at T/C could be attributed to the introduction of all these new funds, the establishment of a “cash-out” procedure, etc.

Are there any “old timers” (20+ years) left that could describe the costs and negative impacts on T/C and participants, due to these changes. The old system worked quite well. To paraphrase… the enemy of a good program is the search for a perfect program.

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avatar 217 Anonymous January 28, 2009 at 3:42 pm

People do not want more options for them to ask questions. They want solutions. My father wokred with a WMA, and found that service more frustrating than the call center. He felt the service was established soley to push product to higher net worth individuals and not give him answers to his questions. The fact remains TIAA-CREF takes these employees retirement contributions, provides them a few, poor performing investment options and tops that off with poor customer service. That fact is evident by these client and startling employee postings. TIAA-CREF can get away with this becuase the employee’s TIAA-CREF retirement plan is not portable. There is NO incentive for TIAA-CREF to provide even basic customer service since there is no option to roll the money into an IRA unless the employee retires or is terminated. It was clear from my father experience that his only option will be to roll the entire plan out as soon as he retires. An IRA will provide him more investment options and an easier process to have the assets transfer to beneficaries which seems to be a huge issue based on these postings.

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avatar 218 Anonymous January 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Michael, be sure to inquire specifically about any money your father may have in the “TIAA Traditional” guaranteed fund. If more than $2000, it’s very unlikely that he will be able to roll that part into an IRA, except in ten annual installments. Beware. Some phone reps behave as if “everyone knows” that TIAA Traditional is an annuity and not accessible as a lump sum, even after retirement. Others will tell you that you can roll it over in a lump sum when that is not the case. I’d have been totally out of TIAA-CREF years ago if it hadn’t been for that fund.

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avatar 219 Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I am a former WM Advisor and I can honestly say that the “brilliant” series of restructuring took a page from wall street. Give the do nothing and know-nothing execs all the money, get rid of the intelligent employees that had a decent pay, and replace them with lower paid less knowledgable (due to lack of T-C experience) employees. In the end, the client gets the shaft . The WM Group was established under the false premise of unbiased advice while it is actually biased to ALWAYS recommend consolidating assets with TIAA-CREF regardless of the best interest of the client. How can any advice be unbiased when the WMAs have a large part of their compensation based upon meeting their goal of bringing in new assets? (which goes up each calendar year) I’m sure that little tidbit is left out when working with clients by pushing the B-S line of “I’m not working on commission”. Their customer service stinks because they got rid of 99% of the employees who know the ins and outs of how to get things done FOR the client. Now the client comes second, or maybe third, depending on which department you are working with. DO NOT move any funds in excess of $2,000 into TIAA Traditional within a RA or GRA contract. The funds can only be removed in TEN installments over ten years, no compromise unless you annuitize or receive interest on the remaining balance. BEWARE! That feature is an asset retention tool in itself.

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avatar 220 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 6:51 am
avatar 221 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

LHR74 mentioned “DO NOT move any funds in excess of $2,000 into TIAA Tradtional within a RA or GRA contract. The funds can only be removed int TEN installments over ten years, no compromise unless you annutize or receive interest on the remaining balance.

I am one of those folks who was told only about the ten year payout. Can you give more information about the “or receive interest on the remaining balance.” I was given no information about that when I talked to several “T/C call center reps.”

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avatar 222 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I think TC is awful but some people seem clueless too. How can you not have heard of about Interest Only or 10 Year payout, Due you read nothing sent to you by TC? Clueless people deserve what they get.

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avatar 223 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I was a representaive there for about a year in 2006-2007. I could not take it any more. Their systems are the problem. Herb Allison really messed things up.

The phone reps are powerless to actually get anything done. They just put in the request. They can’t actually FIX it for you… although they wish they could.

Lots of stories, but I remember a fellow that moved from Germany back to the US several years before. Even though he changed his address many times and requested money be wired to his back for his annual payments, TIAA had sent checks to his old address (which no longer exists) in Germany. It happened for three years after he was in the US. He and the phone reps did everything right. Perfect. And yet the checks still went to Germany every year.

I’ve had people cry on phone, curse at me, everything. I can understand the frustration.

I couldn’t take it anymore and after a year, I walked out and never went back. The morale was horrible.

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avatar 224 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm

It is sad that people do not know about the 10-year payment. But there is a reason why it’s locked up. It is guaranteed to NEVER LOSE VALUE.

Currently, it is paying 4.5%and had a 5.25% return for 2008. Name anything else in your portfolio that had a 5.25% return for 2008.

They need to be more clear on the lockup, and clients need to actually read what they are getting into. When I worked there, I really wished that TIAA would warn people about it more. Then again, the word “annuity” should be a red flag. This isn’t a mutual fund!

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avatar 225 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I had one lady that when she initially signed up, she requested her $ be split into several funds, but the totals did not add up. When that happens, it defaults to the money market fund.

This lady never read anything TC sent her over 28 years. So, for 28 years all of her retirement savings was going into a money market.

She had $230,000, but would have had over $800,000 if the initial mistake was not made.

This is the problem with TC. Someone should have called her to let her know at the beginning. They didn’t. She’s out several hundred grand. Then again, she never once looked? Ever?

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avatar 226 Anonymous January 30, 2009 at 8:35 pm

To Jan: The TIAA-CREf term is the Interest Only Option.
Instead of receiving the balance via a ten year payout or an irrevocable option such as a lifetime annuity, you should be able to keep the balance in place and receive the interest generated by your balance on a monthly basis. If my memory serves me, the minimum age to initiate the interest is age 55 and you must have terminated from employment. You must receive interest for at least 12 months before you can change to another option such as the ten year payout or an annuity (i.e. anytime from month 13 onward the conversion can be made). Since the interest payments are eligible to be rolled over to an IRA, a minimum of 20% would have to be withheld for federal income taxes. If you want to withhold less than 20% for federal income taxes, you should have the interest payments rolled into an IRA (open one if you do not already have one) an the have the payment immediately taken out of the IRA. That way, you can determine the amount of taxes, if any, you would like to withhold. This can be a great option to generate income for you without locking you into an irrevocable situation, assuming the interest being generated is sufficient. In addition, the balance is preserved and passed on to your beneficiaries in full if you were to die while receiving interest-only payments. Sorry that my response is long-winded but I hope it helps.

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avatar 227 Anonymous February 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

If the SEC was so lax in their oversight of the Wall Street firms and other crooks, I am sceptical about what enforcement actions they will take against the inept TIAA-CREF. On the other hand, persistence does pay off and with the current scrutiny of the SEC they may take greater action against TIAA-CREF than they had in the past. If you are experiencing service issues you should be sure to document as much as possible- especially if accumulation transfers and/or payments were delayed. This way, investment losses and/or delayed payment interest can be calculated for you.

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avatar 228 Anonymous February 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

Okay, I am three years into a TIAA-CREF account at my new school, and this board – as well as a few other sources – have me concerned. I moved from a public school to a private school and switched from Lincoln Financial to TIAA-CREF, mostly because I hated the high fees at Lincoln. I’m still not sure that was the best move, but as an educator with a two year old daughter there are limits to how much research I can do on a subject I’m only modestly capable of understanding.

Can anyone link me to a site where I can find some good, objective comparisons between companies like TIAA-CREF and Lincoln Financial? I’ve been googling and web-searching for an hour and my mind is numb with all the fiscal language. I think I’d have an easier time speaking the tongue of Mordor. =P

*sighs*

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avatar 229 Anonymous March 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

And the tongue of mordor wouldn’t lie to you as well as the folks at TIAA Cref. Put your money somewhere else–anywhere else! I’ve never in my life been so poorly treated by a company that professes to be looking out for my welfare. I’ve had better customer service at McDonald’s!

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avatar 230 Anonymous March 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

I was in the same position, my choices were between tiaa, vanguard, and AIG or all three (can split my contributions). Well, I didn’t choose AIG :-)

When I came across this blog, I was concerned at first about the folks issues with tiaa but since most people have a problem when it comes to taking money and I am more interested in saving money, I am not too concerned, I have too many years to go b/f I can think of retiring. The information provided here made me look more at that traditional account and my employer money goes into what they call a retirement annuity that will restrict the payment options from tradition to ten years, interest only or lifetime income but my contributions can go into a supplemental account that doesn’t restrict the distribution options but I get a lower interest rate.

I eventually found http://www.bogleheads.org, you can ask a lot of questions and get great responses, it is run by people who are big fans of vanguard but they also have great tips on tiaa investment options and other companies. I choose to split my money b/t tiaa and vanguard. I like tiaa’s real estate and social choice and traditional and vanguards indexed funds. I found the people I spoke with at both vanguard and tiaa to be helpful and courteous especially with how crazy the market has been.

Thanks folks for your cautionary tales – I hope your issues get resolved soon. I don’t know how people lived w/o the internet!

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avatar 231 Anonymous February 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I requested by FAX a one-time withdrawal from my TIAA Traditional account . This was received by TIAA on 3 Feb 2009. On 4 Feb they sent the wire incorrectly and it was returned on 5 Feb.

The wire was to be sent to Merrill Lynch and forwarded to my account at a Merrill Lynch branch. I have used this route for five years to wire funds. The problem seemed to be that TIAA has never done a two step transfer, so they put all the numbers together in one number, which was rejected by the Merrill Lynch computer.

On 11 February an employee of my bank phoned the supervisor in charge of my transfer and explained to him how to do it properly. As of today, 17 Feb. no wire has been sent. They are still processing the wire transfer. The 32K dollars were taken from my account on 4 Feb and has been “processed” since then.

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avatar 232 Anonymous February 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm

When I was let go by my employer under very shady circumstances I tried to withdraw my investments from TIAA CREFF. I found I had to jump through so many hurdles including having to communicate with my employer over issues like the date I was fired etc. Finally after several months of contact (5 months) I finally was able to collect my investment except for the TIAA Traditional. I tried to collect that one too, but after they sent me seven pages of forms that needed to be filled out that also required to deal with my former employer who dragged their feet almost as bad as CREFF I gave up and figured I’d never see that money again. I admit I should have complained to some government agency but that’s too much fun for me, now after four years of calling I’m trying again. I’ll let you know how this goes. Be aware that if you need your money out of them be ready to jump through hoops of fire…..Oh by the way you cannot speak to the actual person that handles your account you must speak to an advisor that each time has to be brought up to speed……ridiculous.

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avatar 233 Anonymous March 11, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Barton- once you have received the paperwork for withdrawal/rollover, complete all of the personal and withdrawal info. You can send it back without employer verification of termination date because the processing area normally will handle that once they get your forms and that section is left blank. While you were probably not told that by a rep at TIAA-CREF, that is what happens behind the scene in the processing areas. Good luck.

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avatar 234 Anonymous February 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I’m not a big fan of the current management at TIAA-CREF but it is important to state that they have done pretty well on the investment side, particularly with regard to the TIAA investments. One reason is that much of the money invested by the institutions and customers is “locked up” for a minimum of 10 years. Over the years, this has provided a significant advantage, providing better returns from more stable investments. The institutions know this. The fact that the money can’t be withdrawn in a lump sum is on the applications signed by the customers and is spelled out clearly in enrollment material. Many employers offer alternative investments…like CREF…that can be cashed out. This has always been controversial as the funds contributed by employers are meant to provide retirement income.
That said, there is no excuse for the poor service that many people seem to be receiving. Unfortunately, I am one of them. Even former employees are not immune. It is very disheartening. Let’s hope that the new CEO who replaced Allison will foster change.

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avatar 235 Anonymous March 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm

When I check out annuities at various web sites, the payouts are higher than TIAA. If I take a 20 year gaurantee the payout is 6.99% vs only 6.29 per TIAA. Am I missing something? The
” commercial” offerings are better than TIAA. I hope I am missing something. Is there an TIAA enployee or exemployee who can explain this?

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avatar 236 Anonymous March 11, 2009 at 11:33 am

It has taken me more than THREE YEARS to dissolve my retirement at TIAA Cref. Over that span of time they have made a bundle of money from my account and I have now lost a bundle. As of today I have submitted the same forms to the same people six times since January 2009, have been told different information–seriously different information–by every single person at TIAA Cref every time I have called them, and finally have had to threaten them with a lawsuit and an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education to get some resolution. These people are shameless, they are liars, and they are stealing our money. I still don’t have my funds but I’ve given them 48 hours and then I turn a large contingent of Irish solicitors lose on them and I start writing editorials.

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avatar 237 Anonymous March 25, 2009 at 9:24 am

For those of you still entertaining the so-called unbiased advice from the TIAA-CREF Wealth Management Group, keep in mind that the INDIVIDUAL asset growth goals for each wealth management advisor in 2009 is $50 million of new assets. Beware of the advice being presented by the TIAA-CREF software and keep in mind that the goal is lingering over each WMAs head. The overall compensation of a WMA is tied significantly to meeting and/or exceeding that goal so the line about being non-commissioned is true but doesn’t give the whole picture.

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avatar 238 Anonymous March 25, 2009 at 6:08 pm

You say that “the INDIVIDUAL asset growth goals for each wealth management advisor in 2009 is $50 million of new assets”.

It is confusing to me just how a WMA can go about obtaining this goal. Could you give some examples?

My impression is that a WMA only comes into contact with a participant who already has a substantial investment in TIAA, and that although the WMA might be able to talk a participant out of transferring funds out of TIAA, how often would there be an opportunity to get someone to add additional funds to TIAA?

Would you also expand a little on how the “overall compensation of a WMA is tied significantly to meeting and/or exceeding that goal”. Is it a large percentage of the WMA’s salary, and are there any penalties associated with not meeting these goals?

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avatar 239 Anonymous March 25, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Each WMA is responsible for bringing in new assets to TIAA-CREf in the amount of $50 million. Clients who work with WMAs do indeed have substantial assets at TIAA-CREF but part of the portfolio review process provided by TIAA-CREF is to uncover assets outside of TIAA-CREF that can be brought in from other investment companies. When a client goes forward with a the portfolio review he/she provides information such as account statements regarding outside assets. Once the portfolio review is prepared by TIAA-CREF, over 95% of the time the recommendation is to consolidate outside assets with TIAA-CREF. These assets are not restricted to retirement funds but include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, after-tax annuities, and other financial products.

As far as compensation goes, each WMA does receive a salary and is not paid a commission. If the WMA meets or exceeds the asset growth goal, then the bonus would be anywhere from 25%-50% of their base salary (on average). The environment created by management is that jobs are held over your head. There is an atmosphere of “what have you done for me lately” between the management and the WMAs. Not meeting goals in two consecutive years results in termination of employment, regardless of how pleased the clients are with working with that particular WMA. Unlike TIAA-CREF 10 years ago, it is all about the bottom line and less about outstanding service and looking out for the client.

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avatar 240 Anonymous March 26, 2009 at 9:47 am

Thanks, LHR74, for the invaluable info you’ve been providing. I’m considering moving money out of my SRA into an after-tax account (probably with Vanguard). How would this affect my WMA? Is he penalized by having the withdrawal netted against the “new money” he’s bringing in?

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avatar 241 Anonymous March 26, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Each WMA has to account for assets brought in and assets rolled elsewhere. There is only so much he/she can do to convince a client to keep the funds with TIAA-CREF. Vanguard is great but aren’t your SRA funds are pre-tax in nature? As a result, wouldn’t you roll those funds into another pre-tax account otherwise pay income taxes on the funds?

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avatar 242 Anonymous March 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm

LHR74: Thanks again. Your point about taxes is a good one, but in my own case, since I’m retired and since I strongly suspect that tax rate increases and/or means- testing of Social Security and Medicare are looming on the horizon, I figure it might be better to take the tax hit now and have less reportable income in the future.

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avatar 243 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 3:23 am

Just in case you are not aware, by paying the tax, believe you should be able to convert your SRA to IRA and then a Roth. Check out the site http://www.fairmark .com for Roth info.

avatar 244 Anonymous March 26, 2009 at 5:15 pm

As you say TIAAA-CREF is unlike that of 10 years ago, and is even more unlike that of 20 or 30 years ago. Then we only had to decide how to allocate between Traditional and CREF Stock (a much easier and more productive situation in my view).

WMAs and all the other expensive programs that have been created were not necessary. The primary interaction needed with TIAA-CREF was how to best annuitize your (large) account.

Do appreciate your comments, and have another question.
My understanding is that a portfolio review prepared by TIAA-CREF is first sent out to an “independent” agency for analysis and recommendations. Are these recommendations then sent directly to the client, or Is there any group of “portfolio advisors”, other than the WMAs, who can challenge the views of this outside agent?

Or does TIAA-CREF simply show how particular investment instruments of TIAA-CREF can best satisfy the “independent” outside recommendations?

As you may have surmised by the quotes, I am concerned about how independent the advisor is, and of course how competent they are.

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avatar 245 Anonymous March 26, 2009 at 7:23 pm

There is no ouside third party that reviews these plans. The technology used to provide the portfolio summary and any recommmendation is supposed to be unbiased. The asset allocation recommendations normally were unbiased regarding the location of the assets and concentrated on asset class (i.e. stocks, bonds, cash, real estate etc). This financial picture is accurate and useful for the client. The plans are produced in-house using non-proprietary software purchased by TIAA-CREF. While the asset allocation recommendation is indeed helpful to the clients, it is my first hand opinion that the plans are provided to the client so the WMAs can uncover outside assets that can be consolidated with TIAA-CREF. Make no mistake, the advisor is not a broker with many financial affiliations but rather a salaried employee of TIAA-CREF. There are few competent WMAs remaining but none are independent nor can they be if they receive all of their salary and additional compensation (bonus) from TIAA-CREF based upon the amount of assets brought to TIAA-CREF from outside sources.

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avatar 246 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 5:29 pm

LHR74,

You are mistaken, the plans are not produced in-house. It’s MY job to send out the client information to a 3rd party vendor. This is why WMAs will not make an appointment one week after the first appointment where they gather the financial information of the client. If they ask for a “rush” on the plan, they are dinged down on points because the 3rd party vendor needs time to put it together.

The plans get put together, printed and mailed back to the office where the WMA looks over the plan for about 15 min.

The WMAs are OVERLOADED with work. I work with WMAs in 8 different states. They rarely get the time to even look over the information in the plan, so you can just forget about them challenging any recomendations.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but to say they are produced in-house is the biggest lie ever.

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avatar 247 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Still with TIAA: I stand corrected regarding the current processing of the plans but I know first hand that they were previously prepared in-house whether you want to believe it or not because I was at TIAA-CREF for over 10 years and I was a WMA. Of course the current WMAs are overloaded with work, they have to bring in $50 million or they’ll get the boot!
By the way, you conveniently left out any mention of the so-called unbiased nature of the plan or the real reason for providing such a plan to the clients. As I previously mentioned, the asset allocation advice is helpful but the real goal is to have client consolidate his/her assets with TIAA-CREF and you know it.

avatar 248 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 11:58 am

To: BH, Thanks for the tip.

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avatar 249 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I’m still trying to understand why TIAA annuities pay out so much less than others I find online including NYLife and many others through Fidelity. Anyone have an idea about that. Are their expenses or losses so bad that they are reducing the basic annuty?

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avatar 250 Anonymous March 27, 2009 at 11:29 pm

It is a little difficult to make comparisons, as there are different annuity programs. For example, there is a graded method where payments start low but increase over time to try to offset inflation issues. Even the payments in the standard method vary based upon the returns of the funds that you annuitize.

Suggest you give them a call to get some of the publications that describe these various options.

Don’t believe online calculations can tell the whole story.

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avatar 251 Anonymous March 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

There could be many different reasons none of which I believe are bad. In general, check the mortality tables used by each company. As of recent, TIAA-CREF did use a 2 year set back from the standard mortality tables because historically, clients with TIAA-CREF have a greater life span. This would create a lower payment than another company not using a set back. As mentioned by others, the TIAA Traditional can be paid from the standard or graded methods and that too will make a big difference in the payment. Standard pays the full amount right away while the graded method holds some back for reinvestment creating an increasing payment over time but the graded starts out lower. I frequently discussed these methods with clients and the rule of thumb was that it will take 9 years for the graded payment amount to reach the payment level of the standard and an additional 9 years for the total payout of the graded to exceed the standard payout total. Lastly, annuity payments from the variable accounts assume a return of 4% in the first year to be conservative. If the account performs higher than that, the payment will go up reflecting the difference between the actual payment and the 4% payout. Subsequent payment reflect the full actual performance of the respective variable account. I hope this helps somewhat.

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avatar 252 Anonymous April 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm

As an added note, you may recall that the setback for CREF is different than for TIAA. I was among those laid off in Aug, 2008 and cannot recall the exact difference but it is different. Details were in the training manuals (if they’re still around)…or possibly in the Knowledge Base info if that’s been accurately documented.

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avatar 253 Anonymous May 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

My understanding is that mortality statistics for professors versus the general population indicate appreciably longer lifespans for faculty, hence lower annuity payments.

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avatar 254 Anonymous April 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Can someone explain why TIAA Traditional Interest Only Payments interest rates on funds applied prior to 1994 were dropped from 5.5% to 3.75%, while funds applied this January remained at 4.5%? I have been contributing to TIAA since 1970 with higher rates being applied during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s while finds applied recently in a low interest environment are getting higher rates.

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avatar 255 Anonymous April 15, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Many thanks to LHR74 for your unique insights.
Our University dropped TIAA/CREF as an investment option today which is why I sought out this site. I am sure this site will eventually learn the name of our institution, but I’d rather not do it just yet. We are waiting for a clear explanation from our pension committee as to the reason. They mentioned only vague concerns.
I stopped investing in TIAA/CREF many years ago when their investment stategies seemed a little too foggy compared to Vanguard. And I am not a fan of annuities. Not a mortal sin, but I prefer seeing exactly what’s going on. Still, I have noticed over the years that TIAA/CREF has been a strong advocate for shareholders rights and sound corporate governance. I don’t think they are the “bad” guys. So I wish them well, but I’ll invest with V.

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avatar 256 Anonymous April 18, 2009 at 7:46 am

The former TIAA-CREF CEO who is largely responsible for the decline in service and loss of quality staff is now in charge of the TARP program. How depressing!

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avatar 257 Anonymous April 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm

I just found this site in despair after been given the run around by Tiaa Cref trying to rollover my 403b. Each month its a different document they need, even to the extent of now having someone from the non profit I worked at 24 years ago sign that I no longer work there. It looks like at this stage I will need to get a lawyer involved to get my own money out. Does anyone know an independent body I can turn to for help?

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avatar 258 Anonymous May 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

Hi all, sorry I’m late to the TIAA-CREF problems party. The reason for my apologie is because I would have loved to help many of you here looking for hands-on guidance for fixing these typical T-C problems.

FWIW, since 2001 I have been making a living off of T-C’s shortcomings. Essentially this is what I do every day, and truth be told, its rather easy (once you completely understand the inner workings of the T-C monster).

I classify T-C participants/account holders into two distinctive groups:

Type A: The blind-eyed everything-will-be-ok-with-my-money TIAA-CREF lovers, therefore I’m committed to them for life.

Type B: It’s obvious that TIAA-CREF can care less about me and my financial future because if they did they would have contacted me at least once in the last [fill in the blank] number of years (from 1 year to 40+ years with no guided intervention… I’ve seen it all).

Finding type B’s that need and want help is how I make a living. Unfortunately I come across type A’s that have spent a lifetime with T-C that suddenly have an epiphany that, in fact, everything isn’t “ok” and now they need help badly because they want to retire but what they really need to retire comfortably just isn’t there. Sadly enough in those cases all that I can do for them is apply a tourniquet and figure out what they need to do to be able to retire as soon as possible without running the risk of outliving their money, and doing so without annuitizing the vast majority of their retirement account. Many of you may know this, but on a side note, annuitization guarantees income for a set amount of time or a lifetime, however it ALSO guarantees loss of control of one’s money. Oh, and it’s irrevocable.

If anyone’s wondering, I represent a very large company who is approved as an “alternate carrier” in many of our country’s higher-ed, defined contribution and supplemental 403(b) retirement plans. Basically, back in the mid 80’s there was a movement by some of the more powerful teachers unions in the country who wanted to break up the monopolization that T-C had in higher-ed. Long story short, after years of legal battling these unions won and the pensions were opened up to approved alternate funding vehicles which allowed T-C participants to move their retirement assets to an approved company of their choice.

Since then, T-C has been bleeding assets every year as more and more institution either fire T-C outright or ad other companies to the game. It’s quite interesting if you ever look at the inception date of the core retirement investment options at T-C you will see that T-C began adding new variable investment options to the RA and SRA portfolio ONLY AFTER THEY started to see their assets move away from them in the late 80’s and early 90’s! Guilty as charged! Before the unions took legal action against T-C, all that T-C offered was TIAA Traditional and CREF Stock. Then all of a sudden there was CREF Money Market, then CREF Bond, then CREF Social Choice, and on and on. Unfair to those who started with T-C in the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s IMO and many others.

I can go on for hours but I need to get back to my work. If anyone currently needs help with T-C, by all means, post it up and I’ll drop back in later to see what I can do. Remember, you don’t always have to take legal action to get what you need done when it comes to T-C and their inherent problems, it just takes the right financial advisor who knows T-C inside and out to represent you. Many people know they’re a joke of a company, just don’t let them win.

Cheers

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avatar 259 Anonymous May 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

This comment is too funny – an attempt to sell something!

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avatar 260 Anonymous April 17, 2010 at 10:43 pm

TIAA-CREFproblem solver,

I would very much appreciate any advise as to how to withdraw my funds from TIAA-CREF. How can I contact you to discuss the particulars of my situation?

Ernest Davis

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avatar 261 Anonymous May 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm

“TIAA-CREF” Problem Solver I am sure you just want to help and I am sure you are going to offer that help for free. Am I right? No managed accounts to annuitize your book, no 12B-1 fees to pay your office expenses. Tell us more about your contact information so you can save us.

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avatar 262 Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Former TIAA-CREF Employee:

As a former employee, you SHOULD know that a client’s money is NOT “tied up”for at least 10 years.” The information you incorrectly disseminated pertains to TIAA Traditional monies invested in two specific contracts usually utilized for investing employer dollars. One contract requires that a client who does not desire to take a settlement option to take their money out in the form of 10 payments over 9 years. The other contract has the same provision while the client is still employed, but allows for a 5 year pay out post-termination. This second contract does allow for a lump sum within 120 days of separation of service with a 2.5% surrender charge. There is NO reqirement for any money to be held for at least 10 years in any of these contracts. A “former employee SHOULD know that.

With regards to interest credits on interest only payouts, think of it this way. That account has a significant portion of it’s underlying holdings in LTB. When those bonds were purchased many years ago, they were paying higher rates that new issues. When those bonds mature and that money needs to be reinvested, it gets reinvested in bonds paying less interest. When your bond holding experience that kind of turnover, you can’t possibly continue to pay higher rates on old vintages when the money you’re making off of your investments can’t support those credits.

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avatar 263 Anonymous April 18, 2010 at 6:54 am

I retired from IU 1 Jun 2007 after 37 years in TC. Being conservative, I had about 1/3 in CREF, 2/3’s in TIAA. Regretablly, when I wanted to transfer all the T/C money to Fidelity, I was told the TIAA money was only available by the TPA. I was told I would receive 10 essentially equal payouts , the first transfer to my new Fidelity IRA in Nov/Dec time frame of 2007. True to word, the 1st two TPAs were the same amount. However, the Nov. 2009 TPA was 14% less even though bonds were the place to be last year. I am getting higher interest on my bank CDs than what is stated on this quarters TIAA payout. I called TIAA and requested expected future TPA amounts, what happened to equal amounts? The flyer sent did not give any hints. Simple math on their present returns looks intolerable. Please suggest any recourse I may follow. By the way, the 1/3 amount I rolled plus 3 TPAs to Fidelity is approaching what remains at TIAA.
HELP PLEASE!

Thanks,

Ray e-mail: [email protected]

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avatar 264 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 8:02 am

Read my comment more carefully. Note that I did not say that all money invested in TIAA is locked up. As a current employee, you should know that SOME is. I was responding to earlier comments from customers who were upset that they could not withdraw all of their TIAA funds resulting from employer contributions in a lump sum. Also note that I was pointing out the historical investment advantage of that being the case.

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avatar 265 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 9:09 am

There is NO provision on ANY contract that holds money for AT LEAST 10 years. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

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avatar 266 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 10:11 am

Really? Perhaps you’d like to enlighten the readers here about how long it takes to remove (transfer or cash-out) the TIAA Traditional accumulations of a Retirement Annuity (RA) contract that has a balance in excess of $2,000. If you’d like to enlighten yourself see this information copied from the TIAA-CREF website……nice try at disinformation:
*If you have a Retirement Annuity (RA) contract, the TIAA annuity contract does not allow lump-sum cash withdrawals from the TIAA Traditional Annuity and transfers must be spread over a ten-year period. “

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avatar 267 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

You are an employee. If you have elected to have your employer’s (TIAA-CREF) contributions go to a TIAA contract, can you remove the accumulated value in one lump sum?

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avatar 268 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Balances in excess of $2,000 in the TIAA Traditional account in an RA contract will be paid out via the Transfer Payout Annuity (TPA) OVER 10 years. That’s not the same as having your money “locked up for at least 10 years,” is it? When someone tells me my money “is locked up for at least 10 years” I have visions of not being able to touch a dime of it for at least 10 years. Once again, that’s not the same, is it?

From TAA-CREF’s website:

“*If you have a Retirement Annuity (RA) contract, the TIAA annuity contract does not allow lump-sum cash withdrawals from the TIAA Traditional Annuity and transfers must be spread over a ten-year period. If you have a Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) contract, lump-sum withdrawals are available from the TIAA Traditional Annuity only within 120 days after termination of employment and are subject to a surrender charge. All other withdrawals and transfers to the Real Estate Account or to CREF must be spread over a ten-year period (five years for withdrawals after termination of employment).”

Notice how the quote refers to money being spread out OVER 10 years? Locking up someone’s money is just that, locking it up. Meaning you can’t get to it. ANY of it. Please consult a Webster’s dictionary.

Furthermore, I tend to be one who believes that it’s each investor’s responsibility to know what they’re getting themselves into before they do it. Advisors at TIAA-CREF have ZERO incentive to suggest TIAA Traditional as an investment alternative. It’s not as if there is some conspiracy to hide the liquidity restriction becaue their advisors get some fat commission when clients put money in there. TIAA-CREF advisors discuss this restriction when talking to clients about the account. Additionally, TAA-CREF takes painful steps to ensure that clients are aware that there is a restriction on TIAA Traditional in RA and GRA contracts when someone calls into their phone centers and requestes money to be transfered into that acccount. I have witnessed this first hand.

I don’t think you are intentionally trying to mislead people (at least I hope not), but understand that when you use words/terms like “locked up” and “at least 10 years” you may be conveying a message you don’t intend.

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avatar 269 Luke Landes June 12, 2009 at 11:58 pm

It’s legitimate to say that if you cannot withdraw your *full* investment at any time for almost any reason, your money certainly is “locked.” In this case, it’s just the nature of the product. Now, a customer should know the terms of the agreement before entering within, but this aspect of the contract is often intentionally buried and not advertised. Annuity products are often marketed like mutual funds without much consideration for the differences.

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avatar 270 Anonymous April 18, 2010 at 7:08 am

In Jun 2007, after 37 years in T/C, I was informed of the 10 year TPA and was told to expect 10 essentially equal payments. The first two were the same amount, Nov/2009 was bout 14% less. This quarters interest stated is below what I am getting at my local banks CDs. My ATT, Lilly, etc. stock dividends are about 2.5% more than TIAA’s latest earnings promised. I called TIAA and asked for what I could expect on the remaining TPA’s. The brochure sent does not give any hint.

What’s up?

[email protected] Phone: 812-334-0991

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avatar 271 Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I think that you are playing with words. Most customers would agree that not being able to take the money in a lump sum is tantamount to it being “locked up”. Try to think like a customer. You will be better serving them and your employer.

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avatar 272 Anonymous June 13, 2009 at 7:49 am

I want to clarify that my post #258 was in response to #256 by WhatSheSaid, not the recent post by Flexo. Flexo, you are not the one playing with words here.
Note also that WhatSheSiad’s comments were in response to my post #224 where I used the term “locked up”. In that post, I also pointed out that the TIAA investment returns have generally been quite good, perhaps owing to the fact that they can realize higher rates of return due to the stability of the assets. The fact that money invested in some of the employer sponsored traditional plans may be restricted is pointed out on applications as well as in other enrollment material. Moreover, the institutions themselves should ensure that their employees understand the provisions of the plans including and employer restrictions. Do all customers read the material? No, but they should as with any product.
To WhatSheSaid: You owe it to yourself, TIAA-CREF and TIAA-CREF’s customers to understand that the customers are not as fully versed in the contractual and institutional policies as you are. Help them in words that they understand and recognize that you have an obligation to do so. That can be very gratifying.

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avatar 273 Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 11:22 pm

According to TIAA-CREF’s own literature (the Winter 2009 TIAA Traditional Annuity white paper, which can be found on T/C’s site), TIAA Traditional Annuity held total assets of $176 billion as of 12/31/08 across all retirement plans and accounts. $176 BILLION. It’s the largest fixed annuity in the country. No incentive to put customers there—then offer a non-proprietary option to your customers in this asset class that is liquid. This is a spread product–there is no disclosed expense ratio. None of that money can be moved to a new provider at the plan sponsor’s discretion–it all has to be moved participant by participant. There may not be incentive for the T/C reps, but there is definitely incentive. The majority of it would take 9 years and 1 day to move. Virtually every other leading provider in the field offers stable value products (which this is) that are tremendously more liquid with better rates, some which can be liquidated in 1 day at the participant level and moved to another provider or another investment product. In some cases, a surrender fee may apply, but in many cases, where there are no competing options, there is no charge to the participant. Furthermore, there are also stable value products that offer a plan sponsor a 12 month put or a market value adjustment in the event they want to exercise their fiduciary duty and make a vendor change–which many are.

For the greater good…..really, who’s? It’s ridiculous that it takes that long for a participant to liquidate their position. All the positioning about dis-intermediation and affecting the remaining shareholders is garbage. That’s what equity washes are for. TIAA-CREF’s financial solvency is tied to the 10 year out, and now they are crediting interest rates at historical lows, very close to the minimum rate. There are better products & better providers, and TIAA-CREF’s clients need to wake up and find them. If TIAA-CREF is so concerned about their participants, then disclose the spread on the product so participants can make informed choices.

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avatar 274 Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 9:17 am

It’s important to remember that there are two classes of TIAA Traditional: RA’s and all the rest, such as GSRAs. The RA’s have the highest interest rates, and (currently, the ratio is not fixed…) the others have a rate that’s 0.75% to 1.25% less. Strangely enough (irony), the higher interest rate accounts have the 9-years and a day withdrawal rule. GSRAs and IRAs have NO trading prohibitions at all on their TIAA Traditional. Obviously, in the majority of interest rate situations, longer term instruments pay more. So if you want the higher rate, you have to accept the restriction on what are, after all, your long-term retirement savings.

Younger participants may not know that before 1989, there was no way to get one dollar out of a TIAA Traditional account except as an annuity. So to me (started my retirement savings in 1975), the current withdrawal rules are very lax! You also must be careful not to mush together TIAA-CREF’s rules with the rules selected by paternalistic schools and universities that chose harsher withdrawal and transfer rules when they signed up to offer TIAA-CREF. The “10-Year” rule is TIAA-CREF’s. Some other rules alluded to in this discussion come from the schools’ choices.

I don’t agree with the statement about higher Stable-Value fund rates at competitors. I used to have a union annuity at Mass Mutual, where the stable value fund always paid less than TIAA Traditional. And if you keep up with the news, there were considerable worries about Stable-Value funds in general (I don’t mean Mass Mutual specifically ….) in the current Great Recession. But TIAA’s highest-possible A.M. Best rating has never varied.

TIAA-CREF has lots of problems, but you don’t get something for nothing in the financial markets.

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avatar 275 Anonymous July 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

Over the past three-four years I have experienced a a lot of problems with TIAA-CREF, some of which are still not resolved. They continue to make mistakes on Quarterly Reviews and have to be be pressed hard and continually to get them to even consider examining the problem. The “consultants” at the 800 number can handle very routine items but they can not handle serious errors and it is very difficult to reach someone who can, even then they will deny the obvious or procastinate.

If you have the option to move to another provider it is probably a good choice, CREF’s investment record is not good even compared to the market in general.

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avatar 276 Luke Landes July 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

If you are still having problems with TIAA-Cref, read this. An author who has been following TIAA-Cref’s activities as a socially responsible company over the past twenty-five years, is looking to speak up for consumers at the company’s annual meeting later this month. Please leave comments here with the latest updates about your customer service issues.

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avatar 277 Anonymous July 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm

For three years now, I have asked TIAA-CREF to provide me of an accounting of how they have arrived at the amount I was to be paid from my Ten Year Payout. I have not received anything that explains how they have arrived at the monthly payout. As recently as June 1, 1009, I request, yet again the same information and have received nothing. Since repeated attempts have failed, can someone please provide me with the name of a lawyer who handles matters with TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 278 Anonymous August 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm

elp,

The Transfer Payout Annuity (TPA) is essentially a nine year fixed period annuity. The payments are determined the same way as a mortgage payment or car loan payment. Each year you get a combination of principal and interest. The payment could change slightly year over year if interest rates change, but they should be fairly consistent. Your case is probably sitting on someone’s desk who doesn’t understand the product!

Your best bet for action is to write a letter of complaint. Over the last six+ years, TC’s focus has transitioned from providing excellent service to proving quick responses to the tsunami of complaints they receive. I worked there for almost 14 years and still can’t believe the awful transformation I witnessed the company go through. By filing a complaint (use the word “complaint” in the letter), it will be handled differently and you should get a written response from a more experienced consultant.

Hope that helps.

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avatar 279 Anonymous April 18, 2010 at 7:42 am
avatar 280 Anonymous July 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

If any CREF participants makling complaints here would like to share your (horror) storiy at the CREF annual meeting, next week, great. Other folks there will be speaking on various issues of social and corporate responsibility. Though you can certainly just show up with your photo ID (and maybe need to have your CREF contract number), they hope you can call in ahead of time to reserve a spot. Here is what they say, with the meeting at 3 PM, Monday July 20, at their HQ at 730 Third Ave. in Manhattan (i believe between 45th and 46th streets, but check):

“If you plan to attend, please call 1 877 535-3910, ext. 222440 to obtain an admission pass. Government-issued picture identification is required to enter the CREF annual meeting. Please note that no laptop computers, recording equipment or cameras will be permitted in the meeting hall. . There will be no provisions for checking bags and packages; therefore, please refrain from carrying oversized items as they will not be permitted into the meeting space.”

·

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avatar 281 Anonymous August 24, 2009 at 4:42 am

I planned to retire within the year, so a few months ago I wrote and asked for a retirement illustration on a single life annuity conversion. Luckily ( I thought) I had moved all my assets to Guaranteed TIAA funds from CREF right before the stock market collapsed.
Last week I asked for a final estimate on my planned annuity and the estimate is now over a $1000 less than the illustration from a few months ago. I talked to several “advisors” who seem to agree that that much of a change didn’t seem right- especially when they compared the payout with other Triple A rated companies like Fidelity- and thought the illustration had not taken into account the various “vintages” of my accumulations .
Finally, the last advisor said the in January 2009 the Board of Directors reduced the payout interest rate drastically. While I understand interest rates fluctuate – but where is the Guaranteed in “Guaranteed- TIAA” except that TC now has a guaranteed to hold onto my assets for up to ten years Transfer annuity Payout –so I can’t even get the readily available higher payout from other carriers.
And at the new TIAA payout rate I will have to delay my retirement – but the accumulation rate is so low that it will take years to get back where I was. It’s a bait and switch con.
I was told that my complaint is being sent to a Resolution Specialist.
Can anyone tell me what recourse I have. What can I expect from the Resolution Specialist or should I just go to SEC – and or get a lawyer

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avatar 282 Anonymous August 24, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Look, I don’t work for TIAA-CREF, but your – understandable – complaints are not on as firm a foundation as your degree of anger suggests. I do agree that TIAA-CREF has never made it clear enough that the annuitization payout rate varies. Despite all of their literature and the plain-English contract you have in a drawer somewhere, it was news to me. I only found out because they suddenly started providing the payout rate when you looked at the interest rates for TIAA Traditional on their web site.

But suppose that you went into a bank and asked for a quote on a home equity loan. Then you came back in nine months and tried to take out the loan. Whoa, they say, interest rates have changed, and you can’t have the old rate anymore. Or to put it the other way around, suppose you agreed to lend your brother-in-law $5,000, and then you lost your job and had to take a lower-paying job. You probably couldn’t keep your promise. That corresponds to the decrease in earnings of the General Account of TIAA, where the money for your annuity comes from.

Nobody at TIAA-CREF ever told you that you were “guaranteed” to get the estimated payout. I’ll bet there was even a disclaimer below your quote. What they guaranteed (subject to the claims-paying ability of TIAA …) was that your principal would not go down, and you would never earn less than 3% during the accumulation phase and 2 1/2% during the payout phase. There is no case I know of where that guarantee has not been honored.

(I’m sure you’re not interested in 90 years ago, but they originally promised more than they could earn, because it was such a new idea in 1918. They had to borrow money to make good on those promises, but they did. And they eventually lowered the “guarantee” to 3% for new accounts. But they kept their promises to existing accounts.)

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avatar 283 Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 10:16 am

Tim-

I understand that TC cannot guaranteed at the exact estimated payment amount. However, I requested my estimate within a year of retirement as they suggest, and the year to year variations have been relativley stable. I think most people would have reasonably relied that the estimate would be close to the final payout amount.

A few month later when I checked the estimate on the TC website and was shocked at the drop. I contacted TC, I was told by the advisor that it must be a mistake. Two month later after I submitted my retirement request I was informed that it was not a mistake, but that my entire TIAA account collapsed based on a Board of Directors decison to drastically reduce the rate. So I expereinced a 15 – 25% drop in my monthly payout estimate , without any notice or warning from TC about an unprecedented event.

A reduction that TC did not publicize and thier “advisors” were not aware of. Many of my colleagues are equally affected and angry. We will be filing a SEC complaint. Meanwhile, we are reaching out to other colleague and looking for an attorney to take on a class action lawsuit. Contact me if you simialrly situated.

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avatar 284 Anonymous August 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Your title of bait and switch attracted me because I have been baited and switched regarding an inherited IRA that I was encouraged to put in the TIAA fund at 5% and then after I had agreed told that I could not but should put it in managed allocation which I was told was a balanced fund. It was not. Their adviser never provided me with the promised prospectus after I had signed transfer forms (he told me that they were in his car and he would give it to me on his way out, it never happened and I was trusting.I have filed an SEC complaint but they only mediate or pass your complaint back to TIAA. They cannot get you your money back. Additionally if you are dealing with pension rather than their so-called wealth management program , brokers, mutual funds and the like, your complaint has to go to the labor department not the SEC. The SEC does do not seem to be able to force justice or regulation upon these companies. In my case TIAA did not even respond to an order from them to respond to me. Beware any information you or advice you get from TIAA-CREF retirement or “wealth advisors. In our case they misled us, misrepresented their products and selves to us and delayed us until a large part of our retirement was gone.
I have not posted to site before but I have several colleagues who have left TIAA-CREF entirely because they were not happy with them upon retirement.

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avatar 285 Anonymous April 18, 2010 at 7:52 am

Stay tuned for more surprises, err… disappointments. My 1st 2 TPAs were the same amount, the third about 14% less. Where was the guarantee of “essentially equal TPAs?
The interest rate on my local bank’s CDs purchased five months ago is a full percent higher than Jan-March TIAA rate.

If you become aware of legal action, SEC filings, please let me join.

Ray

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avatar 286 Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm

TIAA is plagued with politics. I know many key people in their business group mainly in the Wealth Management and they have a common story that their IT is incapable and even though they are spending millions of dollars on their system and stability, they are not getting much out of it. The problem is that their outflows are going to be a lot more because their client base who is ready to retire is increasing as they have very old clientele, while inflows are declining. So this company is going for a spin!! watchout..

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avatar 287 Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I understand that TIAA has spent millions and millions on two IT centers. One duplicates the other. the cost of these on their annual budget must be taxing on their expenses. Its state of the art. But the cost of having these is questionable.

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avatar 288 Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 1:31 am

Jim, you said “TIAA is plagued with politics”. Could you expand on this a little? Who’s involved and what are the issues and conflicts?
Would also appreciate it if you could get those key people in the business group to give a little history abut what went wrong with the IT system. Who built the thing and why did they make the transition when it obviously was not ready?

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avatar 289 Anonymous September 12, 2009 at 6:45 am

elp wrote on July 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm
“Since repeated attempts have failed, can someone please provide me with the name of a lawyer who handles matters with TIAA-CREF.”

Try: http://www.stockbrokerfraudblog.com/2008/08/2nd_circuit_reinstates_tiaacre_1.html

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avatar 290 Anonymous September 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I’ve lost confidence in TIAA-Cref ‘s integrity. Their administrative fees actually caused my 401k Money Market account it to LOSE value over the last quarter – money I moved from Growth Funds to keep from losing big when the Market began to tank. OMG ! So, they ate up any interest earned, and then dipped into my principal. I’m getting away from TIAA-Cref ASAP, and looking into more sensible options. It’s really a shame because I’ve had the account since the early ’90’s and no longer have confidence in their practices regarding OUR money which they are (mis)managing.

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avatar 291 Anonymous September 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Hi All,

The last time I wrote on this site was 2006 and I can see that things are not better. My University just starting allowing other companies besides TIAA/CREF for our mandatory retirement. What is a good site to check these other options out? Fidelity is one of them.
I have finally managed after 3 months of mess to move ALL of my allowed funds out of TIAA/CREF and now have my monthly SRA rolled over to Vanguard. At first I was told by several associates I could not do this but I am 60 and they were unaware of their own rules. I like Vanguard, they have been very helpful to me but my University does not allow our mandatory retirement to go there.

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avatar 292 Anonymous October 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I have been with TIAA/CREF since 1997 and up until this past year, I have had no complaints.
Two things happened this past year that have caused me serious concern. FIrst, I called them back in the beginning of October 2008 when the market was in a free fall and requested them to move all available funds from my SRA to TIAA Traditional. When I checked my quarterly statement at the end of 2008, I learned that this had not been done.

Second, it was my understanding that the funds transferred into TIAA Traditional would be earning 4%, which was the rate of return guaranteed at that time. This has not been the case. They are only paying a 3% return. Do I need to contact the SEC?

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avatar 293 Anonymous October 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm

All vintage rates are adjusted every year on March 1. Any funds deposited in October 2008 are now earning 3.5%. All funds deposited after October 2008 are now earning 3.0%. The guarantee is that 3.0% is the minimum rate that you will ever receive. Not too bad in the present environment for a fixed income investment.

If you can show that you requested the transfer in October 2008, you may be able to get them to move your funds into the October vintage. Give them a call.

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avatar 294 Anonymous October 12, 2009 at 9:17 pm

My husband died in June 2008 at 43 yrs old. When i got around to checking into the account it had lost a signiicant amount of money. I asked why I wasn’t sent any statements. I was told I could not access the account,as the beneficiary, because I had not sent in a death certificate. In the meantime my husbands employer notified them imediately of his death with a death certificate. How else would they have known he was deceased? They have caused me more anguish and I have yet to get up the courage to deal with them.
I have had people say everyone is in the same boat with losing money. Not true. If you are still here and contributing you are not in my boat.
If anyone has any words of encouragement, I welcome them.

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avatar 295 Anonymous January 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

See my post below and shoot me an email, I can help you. I have clients who dealt with the same thing you are going through. Too bad I just came across your post as I would have liked to help you sooner.

Best
Chris in NY

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avatar 296 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I am having a big problem with TIAA-CREF and the fact they will not release MY MONEY to me. You say you can help. Please reply. Would love to hear from you. Has anyone knowleldge of a class action law suit against them for all of the illegal things they have done and contintue to do?

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avatar 297 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Chris,
I have a retired friend who would like to move his TIAA(2) accounts to a higher yielding investment? These were set up under his 401a plan, and he has left the University over 7 years ago. His Plan Summary says he may move/Rollover to an IRA-but it looks like the final decision comes from TIAA! Are you aware of anyway he can move his money in a timely way-not having to wait 10 years?

Thanks, in advance.
Dan

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avatar 298 Anonymous October 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I started a new 403(b) account with TIAA-CREF earlier this year after starting with a new employer simply because my old employer used TIAA-CREF. Within three months, I realized things were very wrong (for many of the same reasons noted by others here–missing contributions, misallocated funds, incredibly incompetent customer service) and opened a new 403b with Vanguard. It took me three more months to get my money wrested from TIAA-CREF's grubby fingers and into my Vanguard account. but I am out of there.

Looking at this blog, it is clear that the problems are systemic. For more evidence, check out the below recent article, and get out if you can.

link

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avatar 299 Anonymous January 5, 2010 at 8:10 am

In August I took over financial control of my 82 year old mothers finances. I went online to the TIAA-CREFF website to change the bank for all of her monthly fixed payment life annuities. I did not realize at the time that 1 of the 5 accounts was not showing up on the website at all. That accounts check was being deposited to the old account but I wanted it in the new account with the other 4. After numerous calls the 5th account finally showed up online and I was told in December that all was fixed.

If is now the 5th of the month and to date, she has received no checks this month at all. I was told yesterday that somebody had changed all the account numbers and made a single numberal error so the deposits were rejected and that it was all fixed now and the deposits were resend yesterday.

As of this AM I checked online and no funds are pending. My mother now has no income to date for the month.

Are they incompetent or are there other issues. Are they in trouble finacially and hiding it?

On top of all that, their website has been down for over 48 hours so you can’t check anything online. My next call will be to the SEC and CNBC to find out if there are others who are not getting paid.

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avatar 300 Anonymous January 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm

As an financial services rep with one of the largest, private financial institutions in North America (one that didn’t need/take any TARP funds) I will say that the sooner yours and your mother’s relationship with TIAA-CREF come to a close the better off both of you will be.
I’ve made a career by absorbing tens of millions of dollars that were once ‘managed’ by TIAA-CREF and taken over those accounts through my company. And that is the only time when these types of games that you are speaking of will cease for you.

Type into Google the following: TIAA-CREF and see what the most commonly searched words are that follow the name TIAA-CREF. The 4th most commonly searched phrase is “TIAA-CREF problem.” You are one of thousands of people who have dealt with and will continue to deal with mind-numbing issues related to money and this company’s lack of administratively knowing how to handle it.

My clients all agree that there’s a reason why TIAA-CREF has some of the lowest investment fees in the investment world, and that’s because you really do get what you pay for when it comes to TIAA-CREF.

I wish you the best of luck dealing with them.
-Chris in NY

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avatar 301 Anonymous January 5, 2010 at 10:40 am

One would think that TIAA-CREF could hire staff and/or add additional computer capability so that the system is not overwhelmed by its clients trying to access their online accounts. The system was down all night on January 4, supposedly because of high volume, it was back up around 3:30 a.m. CST the morning of January 5, and then it was back down when I checked around 6:15 a.m. CST the morning of January 5. The standard message indicates TIAA-CREF is working on the situation.

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avatar 302 Anonymous January 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

As a former T/C employee (14 years), I can tell you a little about what is troubling them.

Financially, they are strong in that they did not invest substantially in “toxic” assets. This was the problem that affected so many financial companies, but not T/C. However, the low revenue streams they get from their products, made worse by the severe market decreases last year, have caused major belt-tightening to occur. Also, the loss of client assets to competitors (much of it due to all the servicing problems described above) compounds the problem. As a result, T/C has laid off a lot of “experienced” (i.e., higher paid) staff. When I left T/C in 2008, over 50% of the company staff had been there for less than three years. This all began in 2003 when Herb Allison (now running Fannie Mae) took over as CEO. Herb is a cost-cutting kinda guy, and he laid off 500+ employees, many of them experienced IT pros, while at the same time trying to ram through a new, very complex IT record-keeping system. Great idea, but horribly executed. This has been the primary cause of all the servicing problems we have seen over there over the last six years. An extremely complex new system, full of bugs, and no one over there knows how to use it. I am not kidding when I tell you they have IT staff who have told me they could not figure out how to fix the problem when clients experienced missed or incorrect payments, or plan information went missing. They just tried different random solutions until one finally worked. That is why so many of the issues mentioned by so many of these posts claim that the same problem kept happening over and over again. And then you call in to complain, and you end up dealing with someone who is very polite, but who doesn’t understand the system either. They will probably try to sell you something though, since the new CEO (Roger) has said plainly that he wants to implement a “sales culture” there, so now all the phone reps are under intense pressure to bring in new assets. Welcome to the new TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 303 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Ferguson sits on the Obama Economic Advisory Board. Boy are we in trouble.

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avatar 304 Anonymous January 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Over two years ago I attempted to transfer my holdings in the TIAA-CREF Real Estate Fund into another fund. TIAA-CREF had made this option unavailable online. Prior to this time all funds could be accessed and managed online. I then attempted to transfer my holdings on the phone (TIAA-CREF’s website stated that the Real Estate Fund could not be managed online.) I was put on hold and could not reach a consultant. Since that time my accounts lost approximately 1/3 of their value due in large part to losses in the Real Estate Fund. TIAA-CREF’s change in policy is directly responsible for my loss.

If TIAA-CREF is going to change their policy to not allow online management (which I object to as it was not the policy when I decided to invest in the Real Estate Fund in 2005) it behooves them to have consultants available to handle phone requests. TIAA-CREF’s phone availability has always been poor and it continues to deteriorate to the point where it is almost impossible to get someone without waiting nearly an hour, and even if you can get a consultant, they are usually pretty clueless and unhelpful.

I am outraged that I was not able to make the transfer that would have preserved most of my retirement account. TIAA-CREF is responsible for this loss and should be held accountable. Furthermore, the policy that led to my loss should be changed to allow customers to fully manage their funds online as phone consultants are seldom available.

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avatar 305 Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm

So have you seen a lawyer about this problem? I’m asking because I’m very unhappy with (a) they never really explained to me that I could not pull my retirement money out when I needed it, and that instead I could only pull out 1/10th each year during a 10-year term, (b) they never explained to me that the interest rate that I was getting would not go up if interest rates in general went up, so down the road when I retire, if the going rate is 9% I will still only get my 3% rate, (c) their website is crappy and is very restricting, (d) their telephone people are courteous “if” you can reach them (I sometimes wait over 40 minutes to talk to a T/C rep), and I can’t ever reach the same person twice for a follow-up conversation, (e) there is a local T/C office and I tried going there for assistance a few years ago and the receptionist made it clear that I should take my questions elsewhere, and (f) they respond to a transfer request by taking their sweet time to process it, and by mailing it via snail mail so that it can get lost. I am just livid with this company and they have really harmed me financially by not explaining on these withdrawal restrictions, which means that I won’t be able to retire for many years down the road. I would like to sue them and want to find an attorney that is experienced and able to take this large firm on….

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avatar 306 Anonymous January 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Not correct that TIAA hasn’t had problems with bad investments, they have had significant losses from mortgage backed securities, and A.M. Best has downgraded their credit rating outlook to negative. The losses recognized so far (through 9/30/09) are $7.2 billion, with very possibly more to come. Their financial strength is still highly rated, but in order to repair their balance sheet there may be some impact on interest/dividend rates paid.

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avatar 307 Anonymous January 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I just read a post where TIAA had some downgrading in their credit rating and has had some significant amount of loss.
I’ have heard that TIAA gives large bonus money out, just like Wallstreet and the banks that were bailed out.
Is this still the practice there? Are they still spending large amounts of money in IT with several data centers as backups while not providing 24 hour web availability?

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avatar 308 Anonymous January 25, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Don’t trust this company- and do not give them your money.

I know that seems like a broad, and unsupported statement. -After being seriously burned by this company- I must advise anyone who wishes to invest their money to carefully review all of their options- check up on who you are doing business with.
They have had continual IT problems that have led to devastating problems for their customers- it also seems that these problems are self perpetuating- basically they keep happening, and the company avoids taking responsibility for them-

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avatar 309 Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 11:15 am

I have had difficulties with TIAA CREF for years. They reported in error to the IRS and it took three years to sort it out and still is not fixed. One can never get a person dedicated to the problem, even tho TIAA CREF admitted they had made mistakes. The IRS is still on my case. I took the bulk of my retirement savings and put them in another fund family.

Now I read that TIAA CREF will outsource 1500 jobs in Denver to India. I will pull out the remainder of what I have at TIAA CREF. This is a company that presents itself as investing for the higher good. Job loss in the US in no way can be construed as a higher good.

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avatar 310 Anonymous January 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Susan, can you tell me where you heard about such outsourcing to India–where I can verify that. I have been involved for 25 years with/against TC on issues of social respsonsibility. Recently the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution relevant to TC on labor issues. And if this is true, I need to know for my effotrts. Thanks, and sorry about your personal situation. Neil

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avatar 311 Anonymous January 31, 2010 at 7:02 am

I saw a couple of articles in online newspapers out of Denver. One, I think, was the Denver Business Journal. However, I think the figure was lower than 1500. They also said that the jobs would be moved by attrition.

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avatar 312 Anonymous January 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Here is another link to an article concerning the outsourcing. The Denver office has about 1,400 employees, and apparently this would affect about 70 positions.
http://denver.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2010/01/25/daily87.html

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avatar 313 Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

The CEO is on the presidents economic recovery advisory team. The CEO has been outsourcing jobs to India for a couple of years. This is a fact. The primary investors in this company traditionally have been educators. These dedicated professionals are preparing and educating our youth to enter a job market where their retirement savings manager is outsourcing those very jobs to a foreign country,

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avatar 314 Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 9:18 am

This is the very same TIAA-CREF that relocated employees to Charlotte after they sold their homes in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) and brought their families to NC only to get laid-off 6-12 months later. This company didn’t know 6 months in advance that they would be having a mass layoff? I find that very hard to believe so the only conclusion remaining is that they did know and let those poor people sell their home and relocate their lives anyway.There are very few redeeming qualities about this company that remain. There are a handful of people who actually know what they’re doing but they are far outnumbered by the incompetent upper management.

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avatar 315 Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

JQPUBLICX, Thanks for the info. Can you verify that in some way or where I can get info showing that they have been outsourcing to India for years–and its effects on employees? thanks, neil

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avatar 316 Anonymous February 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

When I retired, I elected to have funds from my TIAA transferred to another investment. That is done over ten years time, which I did not know. For the third year in a row now, my annual checks have been made out incorrectly. Each year my investment advisor has to return the checks and I have to fax TIAA and request a reissue, with the correct information. I have no assurance that the process will be done correctly next year. What is wrong with this company that a simple computer correction cannot be entered! I conclude that they want to hang on to my money as long as they can get away with.

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avatar 317 Anonymous February 13, 2010 at 11:47 am

Last year I decided to start taking payments from TIAA and requested forms to get this moving. At no point did anyone call me to discuss they just sent the forms. I filled out everything for the ‘Lifetime Annuity’ and nowhere on the form was a statement or warning that by signing I was relinquishing my right to access my contract balance forever. So now I’m a year into taking disbursements and want to cancel one of my Annuity Contracts (I have three and I want to cancel the one that was created from my 401k account not my TIAA account). I assume that I am now permanently screwed and can never gain access to the remaining funds in any of these three contracts? Any way around this? Has anyone ever successfully been able to cancel a Lifetime Annuity?

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avatar 318 Anonymous February 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Undoing a lifetime annuity contract is very unlikely to happen. I worked for years in an area of the company that handles those kinds of requests and I can’t remember it ever happening. Unless you can prove some kind of deception or misinformation occurred, they will say to you “you signed a contract”. If you didn’t sit down directly with a consultant and simply requested forms via the mail, and then filled them out and sent them in, you are probably stuck with your lifetime annuity contract. Hate to be the bearer of bad news…

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avatar 319 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I had the same things happen 4 years ago when I started drawing my retirement. I now need MY MONEY and am told no way. I was told “don’t take it personally we had a woman with terminal cancer who was given 3 months to live request the same thing and we didn’t give her her money either”. How SICK SICK SICK I’m still fighting for my rights. Does anyone know if there is a class action suit against TC for their actions?

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avatar 320 Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm

We need to hire a law firm to represent us! Does anyone know of a good law firm that would take this on?

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avatar 321 Anonymous February 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

DO NOT TRUST ANYONE AT TIAA-CREF. Get everything you are told by phone in writing. They are only concerned with keeping as many of your assets as possible and charging you fees and interest when they can.

My story is simple, I needed all my assets liquidated due to financial hardship and called several times to discuss my options. I have a loan against some of my assets and was told that my loan would be paid off from my assets and I would receive the rest of my funds minus the 20% held for taxes. I received the paperwork and filled out all the paperwork that was sent to me. I received an amount but later discovered that they were still deducting loan payments from my checking account.

I called and discovered that the loan is still in effect and they were still holding 110% of the original loan balance. I was told that they never received the proper loan termination documentation. They agreed that it was never sent to me, but claimed it was my responsibility to ask for the correct documentation. I asked for the transcripts of conversations to be reviewed and they said that “management” determined that I did not ask for the loan termination forms in the final liquidation conversation we had. I asked for the transcripts and they said I had to hire a lawyer and send a “legal letter” to get the transcripts.

Bottom line, in every conversation I had with them I told them I needed ALL my funds to be liquidated for financial and tax reasons. TIAA-Cref is an unethical and dishonest enterprise. They hide from written communication and do everything to confound the facts. They are charging me interest on a loan that they have secured with my assets, so I am paying them interest to keep my money at this point.

Any advice on how to proceed with them is appreciated.

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avatar 322 Anonymous February 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

TIAA-CREF has had (they will acknowledge this) significant service issues over the last several years. Much has been written on this site about why that is the case so I won’t belabor the point. Apparently those problems persist as do continued layoffs of experienced staff, some of whom are soon hired back as consultants…go figure.
I do take issue with the comment that “TIAA-CREF is an unethical and dishonest enterprise”. That simply is not true. There are still may fine, committed employees who are just as troubled and embarrassed by the problems they have had.
My advice is to go to the top, including the Board. It has always been an organization that responds to the “squeaky wheel”. Go on their website and write or call the highest level customer services individual you can find. If that doesn’t work, call the Chief Compliance officer or General Counsel. Call 212-490-9000 or 800-842-2733.
Good luck!

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avatar 323 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Dec. 2010 Write to the Board. That is a joke. I wrote to every member of the Board (31 individual letters). TC secretary took it upon themselves to send my letters to “Customer Care Team” instead of the inidividual board member to who it was sent. Just try to call legal counsel, they never return their calls and again you are just sent to “Customer Care Team”. As stated earlier “Customer Care Team” is a Joke. There is no CARE in any way shape or form. Is there any class action suits against this company? I would love to join.

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avatar 324 Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Yes me too. I want to file a suit against T/C. If Egyptians can gain their country back then why can’t we do the same with Tiaa-Cref. Let’s go to their offices and picket and get some coverage…

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avatar 325 Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

There are some very significant problems inherent in this organization.

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avatar 326 Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

There are a number of class action suits in the works against TIAA-CREF. Call David Dessen at Dessen, Moses, and Rossitto. 215-658-1400.

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avatar 327 Anonymous May 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I worked at two different universities from 1990 – 1993. I had sent the “Small Sum Transfer” forms in 1996. They transferred some of my money but not all. I had requested that all money be transferred out of the traditional TIAA and into CREF. That didn’t happen either. I had not received statements after changing addresses with TC several times both in writing and by phone. I have a 4 inch thick folder full of TIAA CREF correspondence. I have finally received statements and the funds I never got are over $2,000 so they claim I have to complete TPA forms and receive the money over 10 years. They’ll be paying me about $800 a year for 10 years. Talk about inefficient. It will cost them more than it’s worth. I also need EXACT termination dates and authorization from the universities involved. I think it’s stone walling. I spoke with both universities and they just groaned. Virginia allows employees to opt for either the state or TC. More employees are opting for the state pension fund. Dumb me.

Whoever said the telephone reps were ignorant, rude, and contradict each other was correct.

I plan to file complaints with all agencies and boards. I spoke with an attorney but the total money isn’t enough for him to benefit. He suggested that I find a class action suit. Anyone know of one that’s active?

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avatar 328 Anonymous October 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I was working for a friend who had 8 different TIAA accounts over her tenure working for various universities. Knowing how difficult it was for someone other then the account owner to get permission to speak to a T/C rep, we completed the 3rd party authorization. Trying to consolidate her accounts to one IRA was a struggle. The final set of transfer paperwork was mailed in and we were told that half the forms were missing. They were signed by 3 different parties all over the country and TIAA wanted us to re-mail them. A different phone rep said to fax in all the copies we had kept and it would be processed – we did. A few weeks later, we were told that they wouldn’t accept faxes – we shared the name, date and ext. of the rep who told us otherwise. To “help” Tiaa reviewed our fax and said that not all the pages arrived – how interesting as that was the same excuse on the originals. We made arrangement to only send TIAA a original signature from my friend and they’d process. After a month – that form “was never received” Our file was getting thick. After moving up through various customer service teams we were assigned a single rep who was responsible for our case. I told the rep I wanted her home mailing address to mail new forms to her home. She didn’t provide her home address, but did give me her direct office address. I shipped new paperwork to her directly 2-day air – with tracking number. 5 days later, it still hadn’t arrived to her. When I called, she said she gave me the wrong address! I inquired if she knew where she worked or if she just showed up at some random building with a phone that would ring. Finally, TIAA decided that through the forms they did receive, they did get a complete transfer request and the funds were withdrawn. A year later, I heard 2nd hand from a former TIAA employee who worked in the transfer department that it wasn’t uncommon for transfer people to toss out a form so that the transfer wouldn’t go through – great way to hold onto funds! TIAA is terrible.

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avatar 329 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

OMG I’m going through this with them now!!!

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avatar 330 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Are you having issues concerning “Required Minimum Distribution” ? If you are don’t think for one minute that they will explain it to you – the customer service people on the telephone have no clue what the IRS RMD regulations are – they will give you incorrect information – for example, they told us we could roll over distributions from 401A and 403B accounts into an IRA and still report the monies as RMD – then, when we got our 1099-Rs we were told that the monies were not RMD monies from the 401A and 404B accounts but RMD monies from the IRA AND because of this, our 2010 RMD was not satisfied.
AND THIS IS THE “LAW”: RMD monies CAN NOT be rolled over into an IRA and they did just that and then represented that “based on their interpretation of the tax law” they could do it. THERE IS NOTHING TO INTERPRET ! It is forbidden to do it.

They misrepresented the regulations, they violated IRS regulation and they sent us explanations that demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge concerning RMD. Their contracts either violated IRS regulations or they violated their contracts with us.

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avatar 331 Anonymous May 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Please do not reveal my name or email address.
Question? (Death Benefits)
Am legally authorized to deal with the financial matters concerning the death of a friend who had a pension through TIAA CREF.
Am having great difficulties getting any communication from this company.
Has anyone else had problems making a claim?
Any solutions to to moving a claim along?
What are your stories regarding claims and death benefits?
Thanks.

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avatar 332 Anonymous May 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Your most comprehensive and expensive option is to hire an attorney who deals with estates as a primary line of business.

The next most certain way to get a full and complete response is to ask the Judge who is handling the probate of your friend’s estate. TIAA/CREF cannot just ignore a court order. You may have to “work” the judge’s clerk to get this done without an attorney.

best of luck!

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avatar 333 Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Thank you, Old and Slow.
You are one “fiesty” individual !
My usual tendency is to follow protocol and save the “sledge hammer” for drastic situations. However, my patience with this company has been eroding and if other avenues do not take me to a satisfactory conclusion to this intolerable situation soon, there may be no other choice than to use my legal council. I will not hesitate if driven to that point.
Appreciate your comment.

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avatar 334 Anonymous June 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm

The reason that you are unable to get any information or deal with the accounts is that either 1. You are not really authorized to do so or 2. You have not provided them documentation proving that you are authorized. If you are a listed beneficiary then you would have to submit a death certificate. If you are not a listed beneficiary then you would need to submit a death certificate and a letter of appointment from the court stating you are the executor of the estate. Getting an attorney involved will most likely only cost you and get you no further.

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avatar 335 Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 6:49 am

There should be no need to hire an attorney. If you have not gotten satisfaction from the regular Customer Services staff you have a couple of options to pursue on your own. Both involve complaining. The first would be to contact your friend’s employer…the college or university that contributed to the TIAA plan. Contact the HR or Benefits office and let them know. They may have the name of a higher level T-C employee to contact or they may do it themselves.
The other way is to contact T-C’s senior management. Take a look at their website and select a senior exec responsible for customer services. Call either 800-842-2733 or 212-490-9000 and ask for that person. Keep trying until you get someone on the phone. When you do, let them know what your difficulties have been and who you have already contacted. Let them know you will register a complaint with the SEC or NY Insurance department. They tend to respond more quickly to people who really complain loudly and to senior staff.

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avatar 336 Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Thanks Former TIAA-CREF Employee.
Actually, I do have legal council but felt that the “normal protocol” should be followed. However, I did not expect to encounter so many “road blocks” to a simple claim.

I have made contact with some colleagues. Everyone is concerned that their loved ones may encounter a similar situation upon their death. The death of a loved one is an emotional ride and becomes more disconcerting when a company entrusted with your money makes it difficult for those left behind.
Makes one wonder if that is the master plan; maybe individuals are so stressed that they may “go away”. Leaves the money in the “kitty”…..or is it just gross incompetence?

There are possibilities. I wonder how they (the company) would respond to personal stories printed in university news letters, etc. Not saying that I would do this but there are other possibilities as you have pointed out.

I will attempt to reach an executive and see what happens.
Thank you for your feedback.

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avatar 337 Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Hi Anonymous- Let me know how things work out for you I would be interested. I haven’t had the energy to tackle this, but I will. I have all conversations written down with names and dates. I plan on persuing. I have something else they sent me. I won’t say what it is, but it certainly doesn’t help them.

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avatar 338 Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Thanks for responding L.K. Schwink .

Good work on recording. Found out years ago that it pays to keep comprehensive notes. Would love to know what you have …but will not ask you to give any “good game” away prematurely. Will look forward to finding out some time in the future, I hope.

My legal council was very pleased that I took the route of recording everything in my dealings to date with TIAA. Although we could now go forward with legal; at this point it is a matter of principle that I access this system and have the benefits paid to my friends estate; it is my legal right to do so. I have given myself a timeline keeping my legal options open for plan “B”.

BUILDING AWARENESS ! (Once an educator, always an educator.)
Actually, I hope through posting experiences, thoughts and frustrations that it would encourage dialogue at this level or at some level.
Talk to friends.
-Are the profs., lecturers and teachers “out there” aware of what can happen when their beneficiary (most often a spouse, child or other family member) “has to” access their benefits?
-Are university and school admin. aware of the ramifications of encouraging their staff to enroll in “any” given pension plan that may be “broken” in terms of customer relations, etc., etc. and worse? Who searches out these companies? or Do the companies search out the schools?
-Do educated individuals really not know “how” the companies, entrusted with their future and in some cases the future of their families, administer to their wishes or not?

I searched out this site because I am having difficulties with the lack of acknowledgement and lack of communication from TIAA in my legal pursuit of following my friends last wishes.
…I was looking for encouragement and words of wisdom to assist me on my tenacious journey.
…What I have discovered along the way is that many companies talk a good game when making the “pitch”. Another story when it is time to withdraw funds.
…What I have also discovered, on a personal level, is that some of my colleagues havn’t a clue as to where their money is invested and all the other things they need to know in terms of their “future”.
…What I have discovered is that some of my colleagues, although academcally brilliant, havn’t taken the time to educate themselves on death benefits. They are allowing others to make decisions.
…What I have discovered is that some individuals are waking up due to my experience and I hope they may be scared enough to become active participants in their own future. I am directing them to web sites and they are asking questions. There is dialogue!

L.K. Schwink; yes, I will share this “quest” and hope it has a fast and satisfactory resolution. Am looking forward to hearing your final results.

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avatar 339 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Dec 2010. I was told by a “Customer Care Team” member that writing to university papers was certainly my perrogative and they would have no problem with my doing that. I have already started writing. If only 1 person reads and them investigates and does not get into TC web it is worth it to me. Any active class action suits?

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avatar 340 Anonymous May 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I’m working on an article about a different issue concerning TIAA than customer service, the actual performance of the annuities. There’s more material than can be given here, but here are the basics. I took the amount of my accumulation and got quotes from 11 high rated insurance companies for the same terms (ten year, single life). All 11 had higher payouts than TIAA. Worse yet, the payouts from those companies are guaranteed amounts, where from TIAA only a part is guaranteed. In fairness, TIAA’s payments can go up as well as down, although not necessarily related to the cost of living or inflation rate.

TIAA justifies their lower payouts by a different mortality for their population. There may well be some difference, but the expected longevity for age 74 in the standard U.S. table is about 10.8 years, but 17.1 years in TIAA’s. A difference of 2 years in a mortality table is large, a difference of over 6 years strains credibility.

TIAA gives the strong impression that it’s an altruistic organization, being non-profit, versus those other greedy profit making companies. First, part of the advantage of a non-profit is usually being tax exempt, but TIAA-CREF lost its tax exempt status in 1997. Second, for profit companies have the discipline of being accountable to shareholders, and therefore need to offer competitive products and have some control over costs. As a not for profit with a somewhat captive customer base, and with an evidently passive board, TIAA isn’t really accountable to anybody. Incidentally, one way they’re not different from other companies is that TIAA too has reported significant losses on mortgage backed securities, causing its credit rating to be lowered.

The real negligence is not only at TIAA, but at all the institutions that don’t do their homework on the alternatives, and choose this product by default for their employees.

As I said, I’m writing something on the subject, and comments are of course welcome.

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avatar 341 Anonymous May 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

Does your article include refusal on the part of their advisers to even supply you with your annuitizing information unless you supply them with a complete financial dossier? We were steered into their so-called wealth management” program when we went for a meeting to get our annuity options and the advisor’s computer was mysteriously not available to determine annuity information. We never were able to get it, later being told in writing to get it off their web site, Their so-called wealth management adviser misrepresented their products and we believe, himself as a CFP. When complaints to the higher ups, President, Bd. of Trustees, etc. and the SEC, elicited only that the treatment we received was their standard operating procedure we transferred out of CREF but are still stuck in TIAA. We could never get our information and instead opted for the 10 year TPA. They are no longer the organization we signed up with and trusted over 40 years ago. In our opinion they are trying hard to be another “greed is good” Wall Street player.

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avatar 342 Anonymous May 16, 2010 at 10:11 am

I was one of the original WMA cadre who were employed with TIAA-CREF for over 10 years and became part of what we thought would be great way of servicing our long-term high net worth clients. It soon became clear that the sole purpose of the group was to uncover client assets held outside of TIAA-CREF and provide “advice” that would recommend the client consolidate their outside assets with TIAA-CREF. The one-on-one personal service that we had built significant positive reationships around was throw right out the window and we were to concertrate on sales. I recall an incident where I recommended a client keep her $250K after-tax mutual fund with the outside company due to the tax implicationsof consolidating and fee structure that was currently in place. While my long-term client was pleased with the honest recommendation, the upper management didn’t want to hear that. That was the beginning of the end for me. I’d rather work somewhere else and be able to sleep at night than stay with the mutated TIAA-CREF. In case you cannot tell from the pervious posts….Be very aware of so-called advice by so-called non-proprietary sofware. The end result is always to move you money to TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 343 Anonymous May 16, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Possible strategy:

1. Open a TIAA-CREF IRA.

2. Roll over your TIAA-CREF accounts to your TIAA-CREF IRA.

3. If you have transfer payout annuities, set them up to roll over into your TIAA-CREF IRA.

4. As desired, open an IRA at one or more other institutions (such as Vanguard, Fidelity, etc.), and direct them to roll over all or part of your TIAA-CREF IRA balance into your new IRA(s) and direct them into new (to you) investment options at your new institution(s).

Do this before you die and your representative has to settle your estate.

In my opinion, IRAs are less complicated than retirement accounts, and give you a way to diversify away from TIAA-CREF if so desired.

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avatar 344 Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Actually, doesn’t this approach result in tax implications? Any rollover from TIAA-CREF to an IRA requires the payment of income tax on the rollover. Therefore, the person who does this could be inflicting on himself/herself a real dollar loss, in addition to having to spend dollars to pay the income tax on the amount of the rollover. I say this because at this point, the person has only suffered a paper loss, which is the the current situation with most TIAA-CREF clients. If a person does the rollover, I recommend that he/she runs some figures on his/her data to see how it might take to recoup his/her loss based on what he/she perceives is a reasonable rate of return that Fidelity/Vanguard, etc., is likely to provide.

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avatar 345 Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm

zkeith,

No, I have rolled over from 403(a)s, 403(b)s, and 401(k)s to IRAs. The rollovers are not taxable.

From IRS Pub 571 “Tax-Free Rollovers — You can generally roll over tax free all or any part of a distribution from a 403(b) plan to a traditional IRA or a non-Roth eligible retirement plan, except for any nonqualifying distributions, described on this page. . . .”

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avatar 346 Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I used to work on the IT Team in the NY TIAA-CREFoffice.

I recently left because the management that took over the IT dept destroyed a really good working system.

I watched how they downsized the company to outsource, and they have been sticking 5 to 10 people in a cubicle so they can lease out upper floors. People have quit left and right (Including me) because the quality of life there is horrible.

The IT staff is badly under – manned. By myself, I was doing holding the workload of 4 techs they let go. They had no intention of hiring new people, and they cut my salary TWICE, but gave me more work.

Luckily I am in a better company now but I still keep in touch with the people there and it has continued to get worse there since.

This is what happens when you let the highly qualified people go, and cut the salaries of the remaining folks by as much as 30%.

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avatar 347 Anonymous July 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Why does Tiaa LOWER yields/interest precisely when it should be rising. TIAA lowers the vintages to less than Money MaRKET AND NEVER reinstates them. Traditional you are trapped and cannot get out. This TIAA sucker fund gives you a rate and then lowers it . I have lost a high interest percentage over the years which goes into their pockets when their stocks are low. If they cannot manage bonds at the same rate when their other bonds are soaring what are they doing.?
Traditional never has a good year stock are high-you cannot get into them and when all other bonds are doing well not TIAA> Why do they refuse to give a perspectus on these investments. Aren’t they required to.? Twenty years ago when they do give a perspectus I noticed a1 % taken from profits with not explanation other than it was yours it is now theirs.. This is a Co. they brags about no fee in traditional. There isn’t a fee when they just give themselves part of your gain and do no call it anything.Then just become you silent partner. They don’t want you to see what goes on it their piggy bank..A fund for all TIAA seasons.–stocks low hit the TIAA vintages. When other bonds even theirs are on the increase Traditional isn’t. Stock good why increase the vintages just keep taking advantage of the lower vintaGE. a LITTLE NERVIOUS GIVE THE FOOLS A SMALL INCREASE. . Add a little to draw the new suckers and bleed them later, You NEVER get back the 50 or more percent of you interest they took and never reinstated ,IT HAS NEVER FAILed STOCKS/COMMISSIONS LOW THE TRADITIONAL GOES DOWN SEVERAL TIMES Never recover You now are in a lifetime money market/low. All withdrawls must be made within limits and scheduled over 10 years. Move over derivitates here comes Traditional

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avatar 348 Anonymous August 6, 2010 at 12:35 am

TIAA-CREF is now going to ship American jobs overseas to India now. At this time when so many Americans have lost their jobs CREF has decided to cut costs by paying cut rates to Indian workers. My company had a contract with them but now they are stalling to re-up for another year.

If you think the service was bad before just wait until you have to depend on people who have no concept of the pension system and 403(b) and 401(k) plans taking care of your money. And hope you don’t have to call them. We have had problems with TIAA CREF and continually have to clean up what they send us.

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avatar 349 Anonymous August 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Could you tell us what type of work you did for CREF, and what kind of problems you had to clean up? Also, how long have you had this contract? Interested in what type, and how much, outsourcing they are doing.

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avatar 350 Anonymous October 4, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Please help me clear up some confusion:

The TC rep at my university institution told me that my original contract signed at my initial employment in 1978 has “restrictions” as to “approved carriers” I could alternately send my TC accounts to, namely ING and Valic. He told me that I could not transfer my money to other companies such as Vanguard and Fidelity.

Yet, elsewhere among the many posts here, one contributor said that these restrictions were only in force while you were working under the university employer you originally signed the TC contract with. I left the university ten years ago, and retired four years ago. Therefore, would it be possible to move my funds to Fidelity after all?

A copy of the original TC contract I signed is being sent to me.

I would very much like to get in touch with a person who really knows TC well, and can advise me on how to move all my funds to Fidelity within the next 12 months. Please respond to this post if you can help me. Thank you.

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avatar 351 Anonymous October 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm

If your former employer provides for “cashability”, you can move your CREF funds in lump sum to any company you want, and your TIAA funds in nine annual installments (assuming you are in a RA or GRA contract). While you were employed, you were limited as to what companies you could move funds to, but once you leave the employer that limitation no longer exists. SRA and GSRA contracts can be moved out as well, with no liquidity restriction on TIAA. You should call T/C and confirm what the employers rules are. If it’s cashable, request the forms for a direct rollover (and get ready for a “retain the assets” effort).

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avatar 352 Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Thank you Ex T/C:

You state “if your former employer provides for “cashability”…”

First, after looking at all the contracts and endorsements I have on file, there is no contract in writing specifically stating what the former employer’s restrictions were! And there is no document with my signature that states that I agreed with such restrictions.

Second, how could any restrictions with regard to “cashability” continue to apply since I am no longer employed by the employer, nor do I reside in the state, where such restrictions may have been in effect in 1978?

If you or others at TC can comment on this issue, and whether I am in fact bound by supposed “contract restrictions”, please add your opinions.

Thanks again.

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avatar 353 Anonymous October 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm

If you have a contract with TIAA-CREF created in 1978, it pre-dates cashability or transferability and the contract probably mentions neither. However, it may say in BOLD print on the face page and other pages that it cannot be surrendered for cash nor assigned. When TIAA-CREF bowed to pressure and allowed cash/transfers it needed to go back to each employer and ask them to decide whether or not their plan would allow. You may have a rider on this point. The reasoning: $$ were deposited onstensibly on the basis that it could not be cashed out or transferred. So you may have several employers who contributed and each might have a different policy. Usually, an employer will not allow transfers to another company if that company has not been approved for use in the employer’s plan. That is because the employer has a fiduciary responsibility if it allows you to transfer money to, let’s say, Madoff Securities under the terms of its plan. However, if one or more employer in your case allows a transfer to Fidelity you can transfer the portion attributable to that employer to Fidelity. If a former employer does not allow a transfer to Fidelity but does allow a cash-out you can (through a slightly different process than a transfer) request a cash withdrawal and arrange with Fidelity for them to accept it — as an IRA rollover for example. I cannot think where the state in which you reside is a factor. The plan sponsor acting as a fiduciary is a factor.

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avatar 354 Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Employer sponsored plans (i.e., the employer contributes $$ to the plan on your behalf) have the ability to place restrictions on the employee’s ability to withdraw a lump sum amount. Most employers restrict your ability to lump sum withdraw while you are still employed, but then lift the restrictions once you terminate employment. However, I have seen some plans that restrict lump sums even after terminating employment. This is true of my own plan at TIAA-CREF. I worked there for 14 years, but no longer. Still, the only only options I have are to convert to annuity payments or take a Limited Period withdrawal. As of now, I don’t have the ability to roll the $$ over to another company. That could someday change, if the company rewrites the plan. You can call T/C and get your specific plan rules. In all likelihood, you will probably be able to roll the CREF funds over to another company, but that depend on your plan rules.

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avatar 355 Anonymous January 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I agree that employers have put restrictions into TIAA-CREF plans with respect to lump sum withdrawals but I wonder if you have the option of Required Minimum Distribution or rolling over into an IRA (TIAA-CREF promotes the latter on their website). I have been using RMD for ten years and I consider it better than annuitizing. Since both of these options are setup (at least to some extent) by Federal law and rules it may be they can’t prevent your using them. If you can roll over into an IRA you should be able to move the IRA to another financial institution.

I think it is appalling that TIAA-CREF is a party to various restrictive clauses, they lead you to believe that there is only one plan but in fact there is a different one for each employer. That said my (former) employer has forced TIAA-CREF to make various options available such as a complete transfer to one of two other financial institutions one being Fidelity.Too often TIAA-CREF doesn’t tell you that your plan is better (or worse) than plans at other employers

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avatar 356 Anonymous February 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

From a plan perspective, rollovers to an IRA are considered withdrawals from the plan. So, if the plan doesn’t not allow withdrawals, you cannot do an IRA rollover. Automatic RMD payments are available for participants who are eligible based on age and employment status. I believe if you are still considered “employed” by your plan provider, you can defer RMD payments until age 75. The reason why I put the word employed quotations is because employment status is not always cut and dried in the world of academia.

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avatar 357 Anonymous November 9, 2010 at 1:28 pm

We’ve had excellent service from our TIAA rep here in Buffalo, NY: accessibility, advice, and good investment performance.

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avatar 358 Anonymous January 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The problems with TIAA-CREF will never end. I too believed the lie about all the issues being due
to their new software platform. But that was years ago. Every time I want to transfer funds out of TIAA-CREF there are issues. I have removed all the funds I can from TIAA-CREF. I have send messages to the state managers of our forced-retired plan with TIAA-CREF begging for other options. I am old enough to have my SRA transferred from TIAA-CREF on a monthly basis and after having this done for several years, yep, they managed to screw it up. I still have to use them for my mandatory retirement. I feel sorry for the people who work for a company who apparently hates their clients and wants them to suffer when they retire. No respectable University should force their employees to do business with such a disreputable company. Get your funds out of this bogus company ASAP. I have moved to Vanguard and they have been very helpful and support regarding my issues with TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 359 Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Wow, this organization is truly awful. I signed up for an account and received the paperwork, but can’t log into my account. I’ve tried to call three times and they don’t answer the phones! I am currently on hold (for the third time) and have been waiting 54 minutes. Yeah, I’m really interested in rolling over my other retirement funds to them!?! What a terrible organization!

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avatar 360 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 5:34 am

Seriously, what is the greater likelyhood: either you’ve been on hold for 54 minutes or perhaps you don’t know how to use a telephone properly. Perhaps you should take your next free hour and sign up for a remedial course at a local college.

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avatar 361 Anonymous January 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Very poor attitude. know how to use a phone, computer and write code to do you Jason? TIAA-CREF is a bad company.

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avatar 362 Anonymous November 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

RUN AWAY FROM TIAA-CREF!!! They are an evil company. In addition to my 403b plan, I had a money market account where money was drawn from my bank account twice a month. I checked online and a balance was listed. I wanted to close the account so I wrote a check for the balance of my account as listed on the website. The check bounced. Turns out that there is a mysterious ten day “float” where the money disappears from your bank account but is not available to you for ten days even though the balance is shown on the website. So I tried to close the account but they had drafted another investment from my account the day I closed the accopunt. It was only $100 and I was told to call back ten days later. I forgot to call back. Today I get a statement…they took $15 from the $100 because they said it was a small balance. HELLO!!! They wouldn’t let me close the account….evil bastards….

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avatar 363 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 5:33 am

The company probably did everything wrong and led to your loss of capital. I’m certain that you had absolutely no fault.

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avatar 364 Anonymous December 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

As a retired owner of TIAA-Crefs accounts, I receive monthly payments. I get notified by my Credit Union as to when the funds reach my checking account…there are seven separate deposits each month! About 3-4 days later I receive 7 separate “Payment Information Summaries” (each one costing 35.7 cents in snail mail [plus what paper and computer and processing costs required]).
Is there no way for IC to consolidate these statements???
I have, on several occasions, complained about this inefficiency and have even received a letter from a “board of directors” member, agreeing that this is inefficient, but that they are working on a solution….MONTHS ago!!
TC’s wastefulness cuts into our retirement income!!!

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avatar 365 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 5:30 am

So you complained and instead of utilizing a minimum wage employee to discount your request as most companies would do you receive a special personal letter from a “board of directors” member. Despite the fact that board of directors have no oversight or operational authority they are responding to your inquiries.

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avatar 366 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

The contempt Jason heaps upon several previous writers is a bit strange. Considering TIAA’s pervasive service problems, which have been well documented here and elsewhere, to conclude that the problem must be with the writers, such as not knowing how to operate a telephone, is quite a reach. I personally haven’t experienced service problems, but find the numerous issues others have described quite credible.

However, whatever the percentage of users that have problems with service, I maintain that the greater problem is TIAA’s investment underperformance compared with other annuity companies, which I documented on this site earlier.

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avatar 367 Anonymous January 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Micahel: You are right. The best interpretation: Jason is an agent of TC.

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avatar 368 Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I am trying to get MY MONEY from TC. I was told by a representative “Don’t take it personally, we received the same request from a woman who had terminal cancer and was given 3 months to live and we didn’t give her her money either”. “Customer Care Team” is a joke. There is no CARE in any way shape or form. All they want is YOUR MONEY to KEEP. I am not asking for a BAILOUT only asking for MY MONEY. Why doesn’t our government investigate this company? Or are they too powerful? or too politically influential? Can’t someone somewhere do something so people can get THEIR MONEY? After scouring this forum it is evident there have certainly been enough complaints. Does anyone know any active class action suits?

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avatar 369 Anonymous December 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

In my parents’ horrific divorce, my dad kept his TIAA CREF in the agreement. When he changed his beneficiary designation to me, the one taking care of him, TIAA CREF only applied the change to his funds GOING FORWARD. He died shortly thereafter. TIAA CREF and my mother fought tooth and nail to defend TIAA CREF’s actions – and succeeded. Apparently TIAA CREF exists to hold funds, not to represent the interests of the fund holder.

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avatar 370 Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 6:49 am

I will add my thoughts to this list. A couple of months ago, my wife decided to move her retirement money from TIAA-CREF to Vanguard. We obtained the necessary paperwork and mailed in the forms about six weeks ago or so. Checking online at TIAA-CREF in the meantime, no change to her account has ever been noted. About a week or so ago, I called T-C, waiting a very long time before being connected, and was told that no trace of the application had been received. Although I have had great difficulty with T-C in the past, and have been moving all my retirement funds out of T-C as fast as they will release them (some only over ten years!), I thought that perhaps the forms had been lost in the mail. I ordered additional forms and have filled them out, ready to be mailed again. Before mailing them, I wrote a letter to T-C complaining about their service, and requesting that when they receive the forms that I will be mailing, that they please acknowledge their receipt, rather than have me wait for months without knowing that they have been received. Today, I received an email that they have in fact received the original forms, and they say that they are waiting four or five days for the previous employer to respond to their request for information. What a joke! T-C has had these materials for weeks, but has never learned how to log in and report the receipt of anything, with an in-process memo. Rather, they expect everyone to wait for weeks, months, or even years while T-C bumbles around before sending out any information on our funds! Then, at that point, they backdate everything, and say the problem has been resolved! I am keeping my fingers crossed that my wife will actually get her funds out of T-C this time, and the remaining three years of my waiting will eventually pass and we will both be completely clear of TIAA-CREF!
I am recommending to everyone, start getting your money out of T-C as soon as possible, and move it to a reputable company. I would recommend Vanguard, which is a fantastic company in every way compared to T-C. If it weren’t for too many apparently brain dead faculty, T-C should have gone out of business a long time ago! It really does need to be investigated seriously by the government, or if there is a class action suit, I would sure like to know about it. Their previous ineptitude cost me thousands of dollars in the early 2000’s.

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avatar 371 Anonymous December 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Since June 2010 I have been with Cref. They do not have sufficient people to answer their phones or assist you with making any changes to your account. The message says that they are aware that it is very frustrating to have such long delays and they are hiring a significant number of people in 2010. Well, it is the last week of the year and they did not even notice that their message no long makes any sense. If there is an emergency, there is no way to reach them.

I am unable to get into my account online or send an email to them because the system will not take my account number. There is a 3 hour wait for someone to call me back. This has gotten worse over the last two weeks. I am getting my money out as quickly as possible, but to do it I need to provide Fidelity with very specific information from my statement. I do not have a recent statement because they have not sent me a statement for the quarter.

Any advice would be welcome.

I am seriously concerned that there is something seriously wrong with their stability as a company.

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avatar 372 Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I work for TIAA-CREF. You’ll need to file a complaint with FINRA for the company to act on your request.

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avatar 373 Anonymous December 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I have also been trying to get in touch with them over the past few days and feel that something is seriously wrong. i have had no response. i have not been able to move my funds and that message is sooo annoying. i am leaving and gone to fidelity if i ever get through to them. today io left a message with the phila branch

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avatar 374 Anonymous December 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Tiaa-cref will NOT answer your calls, I was put on hold for over 1 hour and gave up. They are seriously mis-managed. GET YOUR MONEY OUT while you can!

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avatar 375 Anonymous January 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I check in on this board every once in awhile and am never surprised to see the new and ongoing frustrations experienced by TIAA-CREF participants. This has been something that has been an enormous problem with this company for about 7 years now. However, many of the comments I read end with “something is wrong there” or “they are mis-managed”. That is not entirely true. These issues are really the natural result of the fundemental cultural changes the company initiated and nurtured since the Herb Allison regime. The company used to be extremely service-oriented, placing top priority on timely processing of transactions, handling of problems, and participant service satisfaction. Those days are gone. Most of the employees that were trained in that environment have left or were laid off. The focus now is entirely on sales and keeping the money they have. So, transfers of funds that once were easy to initiate and were quickly processed now languish in a bureaucratic muck the company has created so that maybe you’ll give up trying to move the funds out and just stay inert. Combine this with the fact that the Open Plan Solutions platform (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is extremely complex, and that most of the telephone service reps have been trained within the last five years, and what you end up with is a servicing disaster handled by such customer-friendly lads like “Jason” above. There is nothing mysteriously “wrong” at TIAA-CREF; this is exactly the kind of company they set out to be and were destined to become. My advice: get your $$ out of there and don’t give up when they throw up flak. And if all else fails, write a strong letter of complaint to the CEO, and cc: an appropriate regulatory agency (like FINRA) while you’re at it. P.S., I got all my available funds out, but my wife’s are still there. I’ll be back.

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avatar 376 Anonymous January 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm

1. TC has locked my account for 10 years, without my permission. I was never told about that in advance, nor signed anything, yet they refused to release the funds. I’m now on my sixth year of waiting.

2. Getting the money that they say I can get out has been a veritable nightmare over the past years. One example of many: In Dec. 2009,TC told me I could transfer my annual distribution to another account and then get the money whenever I wanted it by merely calling. That was a lie. By now, I have spent about 20 hours on the phone with them trying to get that money. You always have to wait about half an hour (even though I’m calling from Argentina), yet I could never speak to the same person, and always had to start over again. I sent them the forms they wanted once, I sent them twice, to no avail. They admit they received the forms, if pressed against the wall (it takes about an hour each time to get to this point), and they concede that they are in order. But they always find some incomprehensible excuse for not sending my money. I once managed to talk to a top manager. He apologized, admitted that their conduct is illogical, that many customers are unhappy, yet even he couldn’t resolve this problem. I’m on the verge of initiating a lawsuit–just to get money that they admit is mine. I’ve never, ever, in my life, dealt with such financial horrors. The IRS, I suspect, would be a peace of cake compared to TC. The contrast with my other IRA accounts is incredible. The worst of this is that I believe these manufactured delays are company policy–you multiply such delays by thousands, gain the interest, and end up with a tidy profit for the CEO and his buddies.

Besides the wasted time and emotional energy, such desperate moves lead me to the suspicion that TC is on the verge of insolvency. I strongly recommend, if possible, closing any TC account and transferring money elsewhere.

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avatar 377 Anonymous January 7, 2011 at 10:45 am

I have a lot of money at T-C and many people I know do as well. I haven’t heard of this many complaints and you are making me nervious. They always were pretty repsonsive to me and I agree there system should work better. Its bad to hear they are abusing staff because I know that eventually plays out negatively for companies.
I am going to forward this blog to my rep and express my concerns, meanwhile I also did not like that “suddenly” I had to withdraw all annunity funds over a 10 year period. I figured I could live with it and start withdrawing at 59 in any case. It felt like a manipulative policy and if your doind a good job people will not want to move there money out. This is why I did not do my Roth IRA with them.

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avatar 378 Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Hello everyone. I am a Customer Resolution Manager for TIAA-CREF so I get to see how the company handles each customer issue on a daily basis. Word of advice, if you want something done through TIAA stop calling the phone center and instead write a letter or send an email to:
Trustees
c/o Office of the Corporate Secretary
730 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3206
[email protected]
TIAA-CREF if regulated by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and is required to responded to written complaints and if they don’t it cost them money as they are audited frequently.
Trust me, for anyone having problems with the company for any reason the advice above is golden.
I give this information because I truly feel for some of the people who have problems with the company and this is why I choose to work in the issue resolution field. Unfortunately, I have seen firsthand how the company only values clients concerns when the client has a value of $500,000 or is considered what they call a wealth management client.

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avatar 379 Anonymous January 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

That is very true and very helpful thanks.

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avatar 380 Anonymous February 5, 2011 at 8:14 am

Over 3 months have past since initiating a transfer from cref to Vanguard. Cref’s actions seem calculated to delay the exit of funds as much as possible, which would be a bad sign for investors if true. First, the form to initiate withdrawal is not available on the web site, which says “call us” (and wait 30 minutes to talk to someone, of course). Then they will not send the form electronically, but only by USPS, and delay several days in sending it. After sending it back, they “discover” it has to be approved by my employer, although there is no place on the form for that approval and the form makes no reference to requiring approval. Then nothing happens for a couple of weeks until I contact them. They say they “tried to contact my employer by phone without success” but without telling me that. Turns out it is the wrong form, so I ask my university HRM exactly what form it should be, which I tell cref. They send another form. Same thing, but yet another form.

I ask HRM if they can block out personal information and send me an example of the right form, which they do. Posted this on the web for the cref wizards to look at, which they refuse to do. I faxed the form to their fax number. They refuse to confirm receipt of the fax. They refuse to escalate this to a supervisor. So, I’m just stuck.

Thanks very much to the tiaa employees above who provided the suggestion for a written approach. I’ll give that a try. In the meantime, this is a useful real-time example for finance students who are looking for signs of a failing institution.

One of the tiaa employee posts makes reference to better treatment for what tiaa considers “wealth management clients”. Well, I qualify for that with Vanguard, and their service is simply spectacular. No waiting to speak with someone when you call. No horsing around with bad advice, and very well informed about tax implications of transactions, such as IRA recharacterizations, deferral of tax. Every question has been answered thoroughly, patiently, and authoritatively.

Also, the expense ratios are much less at Vanguard, so I don’t understand why more people don’t switch their funds there. My university has tiaa as an approved destination for 403(b) withholding, so I have to send the money there first, then transfer it to Vanguard for lower expenses and safety.

Thanks for running this helpful site.

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avatar 381 Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm

These comments should be listed with a date. Until each comment is listed with a date, this is a severe weakness of the website. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I am used to always seeing a date with comments in all forums, and I do not understand why no dates are listed on this website. I would have written directly to the web host, but saw no way to do that. If he reads this, I hope he modifies the listed complaints to include the date of listing. Thanks!

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avatar 382 Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

2/23/11: I was a participant in TIAA-CREF for over 30 years until I recently retired. Finally, I was free to rollover my 403b to an IRA. My experiences with TIAA-CREF have been nightmarish. From missed contributions to abysmal investment performance, my relationship with this company has beyond belief. I will never understand how they can survive in the Financial Services marketplace. My advice to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be a participant is to run for the exits- and fast!

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avatar 383 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Do you have TIAA-CREF 401A, 403B, or IRA contracts (accounts)? Are you approaching your 70th birthday or have you reached 70.5 years of age? Do you have an issue satisfying the “Required Minimum Distribution” (RMD) IRS rules with your TIAA-CREF contracts?
Please contact me. They have provided me with false and misleading information for the past 3 months. Not one of the customer service reps I have talked to has the knowledge to even begin to understand the IRS rules concerning RMD requirements – they have provided me with false information that has made it necessary for me to spend DOZENS of hours doing my own research and consulting with the IRS.

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avatar 384 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Fill out the MDO (Minimum Distribution Option) form on their website and mail/fax it to them. This serves as a contract between you and TIAA-CREF whereby they agree to pay you the Required Minimum Distribution for each contract on a monthly,quarterly, or annual basis for the rest of your life.

Good luck and double check their every move. They mess up just about every transaction, no matter how simple.

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avatar 385 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Is this what T/C told you? It’s false and misleading!

You do not have to enter into an MDO contract with them to have T/C pay you your RMD.

Your current contract pursuant to Treasury Department regulations, has to allow for the payment of your RMD. T/C falsely told us that an “interest only account” ONLY pays interest and not the RMD. This is a violation of IRS regulations!!! If you are interested I can cite that portion of the code.

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avatar 386 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm

After reading the comments at this Web site, I was beginning to dread having to deal with TIAA-CREF. However, I’ve found the service to be excellent. I don’t use the phone in contacting TIAA-CREF. Rather, I use the e-mail feature, and I’ve had responses within the 2 business days the Web site mentions. When a representative says he/she will mail me something, it has always happened–and promptly without my having to do any follow-up. When I begin MDO in 2012, perhaps I’ll have a different experience. However, I don’t turn 70.5 until early November 2012, and I will need the first distribution by December 31, 2012. Therefore, I don’t think they will be able to delay processing distributions. You can find the e-mail feature under “Contact Us,” and if you have another question of the person who responded, you can send a reply to that person. I hope I am as pleased with the service I get in the future as I’ve received in the past.

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avatar 387 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm

After reading your comment, I wonder what your understanding is of the RMD rules are. You don’t have to enter into a new MDO contract to meet the RMD requirements. T/C leads you to believe this – it’s false and misleading.

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avatar 388 Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Isn’t it entirely absurd that such a simple process should be made so complicated by TIAA-CREF? It’s very frustrating when you can’t get a consistent response from the people who are supposed to be the experts.

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avatar 389 Anonymous February 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Each T/C employee seems to have his/her own understanding of the RMD rules – this indicates that they haven’t received correct information, training, to correctly advise clients. I think this may be deliberate. I have started believing that this may be part of something much larger at T/C. I don’t feel that my money is safe there. Do you trust them? Would you be interested in having some government regulatory agency look into what they are doing?

I now understand the RMD rules after doing research on the web – if I was able to gather this information, would it not be simple to provide this knowledge to T/C employees? Or maybe T/C doesn’t want its employees to FULLY understand RMD requirements.

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avatar 390 Anonymous February 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

As an ex management employee of TIAA-CREF with an insider’s view of the company I can assure you that all of your concerns are valid. TIAA-CREF is without a doubt one of the most dysfunctional companies in the financial services industry. It starts from the top with the CEO, who got the job two years ago most likely because of his close relationship with the Obama administration. Is it any coincidence that Roger Ferguson was on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and has now been appointed to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness? His qualifications are dubious at best. He’s not only created zero new jobs at TIAA-CREF, but has reduced the workforce by hundreds since his arrival as CEO. Has the reduced cost structure resulted in benefits to the 3.5 million participants? Hardly. During his reign as CEO, TIAA-CREF has reduced interest rates to the absolute minimum allowed under its contacts with member institutions.
On Monday 2/28/11 TIAA-CREF will pay out millions of dollars – in bonuses to its highest achieving salespeople. What a farce.

avatar 391 Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 9:34 am

I work we Penn State we are forced to either be in the state system, sres, or TIAA Cref. When I started working here in 1990 I planned on staying for 5 years. 20 years later i;am still here. IS there any way to start a class actionlaw suit against TIAA-CREF? it’s obvious that they do not have mine or anyone eelses best interst in mind. The choices for investments are limted to stocks and bonds. The best fund, mIdcap, I can’t even get into. I’m suppose to be able to and am responsible for making all the investment made with the funds I and Penn state contribute but I have to do so with both hands tied behind my back. If I trade to often I am threatened with a two percent penalty on my trades. The economic times we are in now and the volitity of the stock market demand frequent trades to maximize returns. I move money all aound my IRA and have over a 57% return over the past 15 months. My fees for trading are 10 bucks!
Another problem with TIAA is that there quarterly statements are very misleading. They include contribution when reporting quarterly gains. They also do not provide daily date on any of the premier class of funds to keep track of the accounts. Even when I can get monthly data, the data is provides in a fashion that is extremely hard to work with.

avatar 392 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Your comments are misleading. There are other options that reps discuss if you’d bother to ask rather than spending all your time bashing.

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avatar 393 Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

The problem is with the new computer systems they put in during the 90’s and an attitude that doesn’t lend itself to resolve customer problems quickly. They’d rather set-up a room full of consultants to “escalate” your issue rather than work on it — you are right though, you will get transaction and if it’s late it will be on them assuming you’ve followed all of their “rules” to get the request in “good order” (ex: if they say mail forms and you fax, then that would be on you … many times the requirements are not going to make sense when thinking about risk and your protection or necessity, but you’ll want to do what they ask) .

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avatar 394 Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Just wanted to say too — the computer changes mentioned were not activated until well after the turn of the century (don’t want to confuse you with things looked at “in the 90’s”).

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avatar 395 Anonymous February 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

How does one go about pulling out of TIAA-CREF. I’ve been trying to roll together RA and SRA accounts from 2 former employers. T/C emailed me a bunch of forms which I completed but now they say they are not all the right forms and yesterday emailed a bunch more, plus some have to come by regualar mail. I’ve had 2 different reps in the month since I started this. The forms they sent yesterday in a PDF won’t print out on my printer. The rep is saying it’s a printer error on my end but other PDFs I received yesterday from other people print just fine. I think they don’t know what they’re doing and it’s scaring me now as it’s my entire life savings at stake.

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avatar 396 Anonymous February 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Do you have an iMac? If you do, take the T/C PDF and go to Print (but don’t go any further). When the dialog box opens look at the lower left bottom, “PDF”. Drag and open “save as PDF”. Do it and then print that document.

Pretty hard to transfer funds out – I think we should all join forces and file a formal complaint with the appropriate government agency. You can also contact me at my email address:
[email protected]

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avatar 397 Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Susan what you are experiencing is typical of the lack of service when you want to withdraw from this company. After 10 years of problems with them, I still cannot get them to send the correct forms in a prompt and timely manner. Everyday they delay means profit on your funds for them. I am giving them until Monday to get me mt TPA forms or I will be filing complaints again with the state of NY,

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avatar 398 Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I’ve had excellent service from TIAA-CREF when I contact them by e-mail. I don’t contact them by phone. When they say they will send something, they do. I’ve had no trouble either receiving materials or receiving the correct materials. Also, they always answer my questions. When using e-mail, they’ve always replied within 2 business days–and sometimes within 1 business day. And you can keep dealing with the same person by putting that person’s name in an attention line at the top of a reply message.

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avatar 399 Anonymous February 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm

There were over 5,000 written complaints filed against TIAA-CREF in 2009, which must be reported to FINRA for disposition. TIAA-CREF is an insurance company based in New York. A good place to start the ball rolling would be the New York State Insurance Department.

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avatar 400 Anonymous February 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I am aware of the NYS Insurance Department. I was planning to submit a complaint there but thought if more than one individual did that, it might have a better chance, especially with some media coverage. I don’t know what FINRA is. But NOW I do – just found it on the web – was not aware of FINRA – good place to document my experience.

Any other way to go back and forth?

Have there been complaints relative to T/C submitted to the NYS Insur Dept?

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avatar 401 Anonymous February 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

There have been complaints submitted to the New York State Insurance Department. The main focus has been on the Wealth Management Division of TIAA-CREF, which targets the older, wealthier 403b participants through highly deceptive sales practices.

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avatar 402 Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

It might be possible that you may know the answer to this question, that others have asked as well:

At T/C, is what they told me correct?: the only way to satisfy the RMD rules is by transferring IPRO monies to an MDO account. Are there other choices that would be better for me?

I have a feeling that an MDO is some how advantageous to T/C – is it? If so, how?
Is there something they are not telling me?

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avatar 403 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 1:30 am

I filed a complaint with the NYS Insur Dept. when TIAA/CREF got their new software platform and misplaced 10,000 when I was trying to rollover my SRA funds to Vanguard. I am now old enough to have this done monthly, and they still screw this up every few years. I am forced by my University to put my mandatory retirement with them and I am lobbying to have other choices made available to us. I am very afraid that I will not get my retirement funds out of them.

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avatar 404 Anonymous February 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I’ll join in with a group filing complaints but I’m in the process of moving my money out of T/C since my experience last week was so creepy. Terrible customer service from polite young people who are not knowledgeable. I’m retirement age and can move all but some that’s tied up in a traditional TIAA annuity and has to be moved over a 10 year period.

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avatar 405 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 1:31 am

I am more than willing to join in a group complaint.

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avatar 406 Anonymous February 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Unfortunately I have a lot of money tied up in Tiaa Traditional and I recently learned that not only may I not pull out my money as I need it, but only 1/10th each year for 10 years, but I also learned that the rates that I’m locked in at will never rise, even if the interest rates in the market place rise. I’ll still be stuck with a 3.5% rate for the 10 years after I retire. And I can’t retire for another 4 years! So, I have hard-earned money that could grow substantially if I invested it somewhere else, now that the market is picking up, but I can’t access it and I can’t increase my returns. It’s maddening. Why is this lawful? Does the govt not want retirees to have sufficient moneys to live on?

And the big issue that I have with this set up is that it was never communicated clearly, and in bold print anywhere. This was a total surprise when I went to a local Tiaa-Cref office and sat down with a representative. And a few years before I had tried to go to that same office and the receptionist made it clear that I could not get an apt with a representative in that office. And when you call Tiaa-Cref you have to wait forever to get to a live person, and if you want to have a follow-up conversation later, to get clarification on a few things, you cannot reach the same person again. And their website stinks. It is not user friendly. And… lately I’ve pulled out the other moneys from Tiaa-Cref and they send the checks VIA US MAIL!!! (even though I had requested that they use an overnight courier like Fed Ex or UPS, and I offered to pay the charges) Can you imagine if a check got lost in the mail???? And we all know that mail gets lost. In other words, Tiaa-Cref have no respect for its clients hard earned dollars, and I MOST DEFINITELY WANT TO BE PART OF ANY LAWSUIT AGAINST TIAA-CREF, SHOULD A LAW FIRM TAKE ON THE TASK!

Sorry for the length of my email!

Marina

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avatar 407 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm

So quit moaning and start transferring from traditional to what you consider better investments within your account now, rather than waiting for retirement!

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avatar 408 Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I think they may be trying to get rid of those of us who have less than the $500K it takes to be a high net worth investor. The reason I think that is that customer service during the process of moving my money out of R/A and into Vanguard was EXCELLENT. Previously I had not even been able to get through the process of opening the rollover IRA to consolidate my various funds into at T/A. They sent wrong forms and wrong instructions and that was only after grilling me about just how much money I had tucked away that could be moved in there. I think it just wasn’t enough to interest them.

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avatar 409 Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I’m tired. Replace R/A and T/A with T/C in the previous post!!!

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avatar 410 Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

TIAA-CREF’s main motivation is to prevent assets from leaving for another financial services firm such as Vanguard or Fidelity. Naturally, the larger the account size the more motivated they are. They have many ways of keeping your money from leaving once you are eligible to do so. For example, when you turn 70 they will try to convince you to sign an MDO contract ( Minimum Distribution Option) so that you are tied to TIAA-CREF for the rest of your life. Once you die they will try to convince your heirs to continue the MDO. The IRS requires you to take minimum distributions from your retirement annuities if you are no longer working. It’s a fairly simple calculation. There is nothing that requires you to utilize TIAA-CREF’s MDO. You can receive distributions from your contracts by sending TIAA-CREF the distribution request form.

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avatar 411 Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

so there is a lot of miss information on this site, when you open an MDO contract all you are saying is that you want TC to automatically calculate and send out the minimum RMD payment each year. If you ever want to leave TC we accelerate the RMD payment that year and you are then able to rollover/withdrawal all your money if that is your wish. Every financial services business is trying to keep assets with the company and TC is no different and unfortunately people do have negative experiences with us but TC does care about helping the customers we work with.

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avatar 412 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Thanks Current! I was burning up at all this idiotic misinformation!

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avatar 413 Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm

TIAA-CREF’s management could care less about the participants. Their main desire is to get the biggest bonuses possible. Management and employees have been paid over $100 million in cash bonuses since 2005. Meanwhile, the participants receive the lowest possible interest rates in the TIAA Traditional Annuity. Hundreds of thousands of retirees have seen their income drop substantially in recent years. Is this the custodian of millions of participants’ retirement savings or a Wall Street Investment Bank?

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avatar 414 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm

It’s the goal of every worker or employee to get as big a salary or bonus as someone can get, being an ex employee you were part of that same bonus pool and unless you are the first person in history to turn down a bonus you are being somewhat two faced here. Let me guess you were so distraught by the bonuses that were being paid out and how awful TIAA-CREF was to clients that you in good conscience just couldn’t stay with the company anymore right???? I don’t think so, you sound like a bitter employee who was probably with the company for years and received the same bonus that you are complaining about.
Participants who have decided to take an annuity and tie that payment to TIAA Traditional have not seen ANY reduction in their payments over the last few years so again you are giving out misinformation.
TIAA Traditional rates were just increased to 3.85% in RA and GRA contracts and 3.10% in GSRA and SRA contracts and when interest rates are at 0 percent i would say that 3.10% in a liquid account is damn good!

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avatar 415 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm

First of all, I don’t for TIAA-CREF because they are one of the most unethical organizations I have ever seen. You’ve obviously been brainwashed or are just clueless. As far as your statement about TIAA Traditional being a “liquid account”, I suggest you go back to the first day of training. This annuity is the furthest thing from being “liquid”. In fact, the principal can only be taken over a ten year period. That is not liquid, genius! In terms of your comparison with short term U.S. Treasury rates, you are way off base again. TIAA Traditional is a fixed annuity comprised of a wide variety of investments that do not compare with the safety or liquidity of U,S. Treasuries. I hope you aren’t conveying your flawed logic to the TIAA-CREF participants because that is not only unethical but illegal as well.

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avatar 416 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Can either of you explain what criteria are used to determine if a bonus will be awarded and its size?

Also who gets these bonuses… phone reps, WMAs, IT personnel, management, etc.?

BH

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avatar 417 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 12:22 am

The biggest bonuses are paid to those individuals who sell the most additional TIAA-CREF products to the Retirement Annuity participants. It also helps if they are higher margin products such as managed portfolios, after tax annuities, and life insurance,

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avatar 418 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 12:28 am

this is not true at all, it is really too bad that he/she is telling people this.

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avatar 419 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Your telling me that TIAA Traditional inside of a GSRA, SRA or IRA is not liquid????? I do understand and know that the RA and GRA are not liquid but I’m talking about liquid investments which the GSRA, SRA and IRA are. I’m not talking about US Treasuries, I’m talking about interest rates in general, if i were someone who had $50k in an IRA and i wanted no risk I could go out and put money in a CD and earn half a percent for a 1 year CD or use Traditional and earn 3%. Who cares what the underlying assets of TIAA Traditional are because when you buy a “Fixed annuity” you are transferring the investment risk to the issuing company and the only thing you should be concerned with is how stable the company offering the guarantee is and that’s where ratings come into play. If a consumer were to go out and buy US Treasuries that by no means is a guaranteed investment, sure the US gov’t is more than likely to pay their obligations but the return on those investments would be paltry at this point because general interest rates are so low. I’m curious as to what financial services organization you would deem reputable? I worked for Vanguard before coming to TIAA-CREF and they have huge bonus payouts just like TIAA-CREF and both companies are considered “not for profit”. Lastly, if i was someone who had a bunch of money tied up in Traditional in an RA or GRA contract and my goal is to take all my money out of TIAA-CREF at retirement then i would begin the TPA process nine years before retirement and if people never reviewed or understood their options on their retirement accounts until the year they retire then shame on them……

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avatar 420 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 12:18 am

TIAA is a stock life insurance company. Since 1988 , both TIAA and CREF have been subject to Federal income taxation following a decision by Congress to end the organization’s tax-exempt status under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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avatar 421 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm

just about every employee receives a bonus unless you are on what is called a personal improvement plan which is one step away from being let go by the company. The criteria used is a mixture of sales goals and customer satisfaction and the overall bonus pool is affected by the companies overall performance in the year (NET Flows). Each employee is ranked amongst employees in their area based on a scorecard but the size of the bonus is never known until a week before it is paid out. The size of one’s bonus can be pretty substantial especially when you are talking about WMA’s and especially the asset managers.

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avatar 422 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 3:23 am

“The criteria used is a mixture of sales goals and customer satisfaction ……”
“Each employee is ranked amongst employees in their area based on a scorecard……”
“The size of one’s bonus can be pretty substantial especially when you are talking about WMA’s and especially the asset managers.”

Thanks for this information, as I have always been confused about how a WMA gets a “+” on their “scorecard”. Leaving aside the issue of getting an accurate measure of “customer satisfaction”, I would like to get some examples of how a WMA meets a “sales goal”. Apparently you disagree with “Ex T-C”‘s examples, so what kind of results could WMAs get that would add to their scorecard? When I contact my WMA what kind of action/transaction could I take that would help her improve her bonus (other than getting satisfactory information/service and reporting this to T/C)?

As a long time participant, I don’t understand what a WMA could “sell” me, that would help them meet some sales goal.

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avatar 423 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 7:36 am

The “Wealth Management Advisors” are sales reps for TIAA-CREF. They are compensated through a base salary and bonus based primarily on sales. i.e. convincing people like you to transfer their assets from an outside brokerage firm such as Merrill Lynch to a TIAA-CREF managed account.

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avatar 424 Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Administrative Assistants are even eligible for a bonus.

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avatar 425 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 12:10 am

The CEO Roger Ferguson received $16mm in bonuses 2008-2009. The biggest bonuses are paid for those groups and individuals that bring the most assets and fees to TIAA-CREF on an annual basis.

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avatar 426 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 12:44 am

O-M-G, where to begin. “Current TIAA-CREF”, you are totally off base on TIAA Traditional, as far as clients are concerned. Take me, for example. I joined my employer’s plan straight out of grad school and didn’t have a clue about retirement investments. Nor did I have a “goal” for retirement when I’d just started working. What I did know was that we were required to allocate at least 50% of contributions to TIAA Traditional, so I did. Oh, sure, I’m a clever girl with an advanced degree, and I should have read all the materials, and probably I did … a few decades ago. But since I couldn’t opt out, what did it matter? Fast-forward to a couple of years before retirement, and I find out that I can’t access that money. I move it all into TPAs, but my retirement planning is screwed, and I’m furious. Easy for you to say “shame on me”, and that’s typical of the smug attitude of TIAA-CREF toward their clients. It’s as if my retirement fund is **your** money, and you’re doing me a whopping favor if you let me have any of it, especially since I’m a stupid bimbo who didn’t memorize the fine print and doesn’t know an RA from a GRA from a GSRA, SRA or IRA. Puh-leeze.

BTW, T-C hasn’t been a nonprofit for a long time. It only pretends to be and gets away with it in part because of its leftover dot-org domain. Vanguard isn’t a nonprofit, either, but it doesn’t claim to be. Prove me wrong.

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avatar 427 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 1:34 am

I did not say that we are a “non-profit” the ex employee is correct in that we had that status changed on us, TIAA-CREF is a “not for profit” don’t ask me what the difference is but we do have that language all over our website.
My “smug” attitude is no way directed at you as a client but more so towards an “ex” employee who is trying to spread mis information about my company and it’s intentions. As far as your retirement planning and the restriction on TIAA Traditional you can always have those TPA payments directed to other more liquid investments or into an IRA so that at retirement you can access your money at retirement. You mentioned that you “had” to allocate 50% of your money to traditional which means you still have 50% in other investments that are completely liquid and accessible at retirement. If your intention is to move money completely out of TC at retirement than unfortunately that money that is in Traditional is restricted and it is probably best that you understand why the restriction exists in the first place. The primary investments in Traditional is Direct Real Estate and long term bonds, in a perfect world we would love to have Traditional be 100% liquid but if that were the case investors would move into the account in bad economic times and then right back out when the market is good and we would need to liquidate those long term investments in order to pay out investors and would be able to pay no where near what the Traditional account is earning now. We have local offices spread across the country and I would hope that you would take advantage of meeting face to face with us in order to help you through the process as i think we could help you plan for your retirement be it with TIAA-CREF or some other firm.

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avatar 428 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

You are spreading misleading information about TIAA-CREF. According to the website, the TIAA General Account is invested in: $83 billion Bonds/Preferred Stock; $71 billion Structured Finance; $16 billion Mortgages; $8 billion Private Equity/Limited Partnerships; $5 billion Real Estate.

“The participant’s principal, plus a specified rate of interest, are guaranteed by TIAA’s claims-paying ability.”

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avatar 429 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

“You mentioned that you “had” to allocate 50% of your money to traditional which means you still have 50% in other investments that are completely liquid and accessible at retirement.”

You still don’t get it. First, I retired several years ago and expected **all** my investments to be “completely liquid and accessible at retirement”. Whether 50% or 5%, TIAA Traditional was totally wrong for my situation, yet I was shoved into it and found myself trapped. I did meet face-to-face with a representative, who could only offer the TPA when I was trying to buy a house!! Instead of liquidating Traditional (my lowest-earning investment), I was forced to go into debt and withdraw funds that were earning at high rates. So I lost money two ways, just when I needed it most. Years later, I’m still stuck in a TPA that earns a couple of hundred per quarter if I’m lucky, when the same money could be earning thousands if invested elsewhere.

I expected flexibility and control over my retirement investments, along with the option to leave a provider if dissatisfied with its services. TIAA Traditional allows for none of that. It’s a relic of the pension era, similar to Social Security and only marginally more liquid. You can’t even buy your way out by paying a penalty.

T-C does itself a disservice by clinging to unhappy, resentful clients. If I could vote with my feet, I’d be less inclined to badmouth the company. As it is, I’ll be warning people to my dying day to be wary of T-C … and to run far, far away from TIAA Traditional.

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avatar 430 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 6:58 am

I was employed with TIAA-CREF for over ten years and my most recent position prior to leaving was a Wealth Management Advisor. While there are many purposes of a WMA, the main purpose is to consolidate all available non-TIAA-CREF assets into TIAA-CREF and to make sure that all client assets currently with TIAA-CREF are not sent to another financial services firm. The so-called investment guidance, portfolio review, or whatever title is used now is a way for the advisor to uncover assets that a client has invested elsewhere. Once that happens, the recommendation(s) of the portfolio review then are to consolidqate with TIAA-CREF or the TIAA-CREF Trust Company. The WMA receives a bonus based upon bringing in new client assets to TIAA-CREF. I do not know the current annual goal of the WMA but a recent goal (1 or 2 years ago) was $50 million per advisor of new funds.

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avatar 431 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 7:24 am

I am a TIAA-CREF participant ready to retire. A Wealth Management Group contacted me to set up a meeting. Are you suggesting that the “Advisor” that would like to meet with me ” receives a bonus based upon bringing in new client assets to TIAA-CREF” ? Will I receive good advice or is this just a sales pitch? How much are the potential bonuses? Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest.

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avatar 432 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

John, based on your readings of all the postings here, I hope that you take this opportunity to get your assets out of TIAA-CREF as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may be as sorry as most of the experienced posters here; what else can we give you except our true experiences!

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avatar 433 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

3/7/11 This is disconcerting. Isn’t TIAA-CREF renowned as the leader in retirement pensions for colleges throughout the US? I have my entire life savings with this company. I’ve heard some nightmarish stories about TIAA-CREF. Can these really be true or is it more representative of a small group of disgruntled posters?

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avatar 434 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

you should certainly talk with a Wealth Manager and we are the industry leader when it comes to retirement planning and income. I think a lot of posters on here have dealt solely with our phone centers and when you have over 3 million participants there will certainly be some problems that arise. Before you past judgement for yourself you should at least speak face to face with someone at TC and then make a decision for yourself. Hope you have a good experience as that is our goal.

avatar 435 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

3/7/11 1932

It’s not about a small group of disgruntled posters !

Look at what T/C did to me. They took my Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) monies in 2010, rolled them over into my IRA and then told me this January that my RMD for 2010 was not satisfied and that I would have to withdraw another $10K from my retirement account before 4/1/11 and pay income tax on it as well as all the other funds distributed in 2010. Put me in a higher tax bracket plus I was forced to remove $10K from my account and as a result, diminish my retirement income.

In 2010 I asked T/C if the monies rolled over into my IRA would count as RMD for 2010 – they told me “yes” and then in January told me the opposite after it was too late.

I not only got conflicting advice but I found out T/C rolled over my monies in violation of IRS rules – and when asked about what they did I got letters from T/C employees that clearly indicated that they had NO understanding of IRS regulations concerning RMD.

Hey “current tiaa-cref”, have any comments about this? How can your organization have employees giving advice who have no understanding themselves of IRS rules and regulations? I have letters from two employees that document my allegations.

John Mac, it’s true. Did you know that you can invest your money in a ladder of municipal bonds that yield 5% and more? And the income you would receive would be totally tax free. Worried about defaults? Look at the default history of municipal bonds. Liquidity? With a ladder of bonds, you would always have some coming due. It’s your money. You would control it and you would be able to take advantage of changing interest rate environments. And there are other investments, preferred stocks, MLPs, REITS, dividend paying common shares, corp bonds, all yielding more than a disgraceful 3.5% – and you have to pay tax on that 3.5% – what are you left with.

It’s not how much you make but how much you keep – how much of your T/C money will YOU keep?

avatar 436 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:45 pm

If you have your entire savings with TIAA-CREF, you’ve probably been with them for awhile, right? Rather than listening to “nightmarish stories”, ask yourself how your investments have done for you. Have they grown at an acceptable rate (other than the last couple years of course)? I suggest you call TIAA-CREF, they have wonderful representatives who are happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. Judge for yourself.

avatar 437 Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

John

LHR74 is basically correct. A WMA exists to retain assets and to bring in more. in this regard TIAA-CREF is no different than any of its competitors. The problem is they market themselves as different. Don’t believe it.
The majority of the WMA advisors do have your best interest at heart but they are put in a stressful situation. They need to serve two masters. the client and the employer. Since a WMA is an RIA they need to put the client’s best interests first. However, they are put under tremendous pressure to meet their numbers. At least a couple of years ago $50,000,000 was the number for tier 1 advisors. for tier 2 it was about $24,000,000 and for tier 3 about $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 annually.

Compensation is determined by assets brought in. Lip service is given to all of the criteria on the ‘scorecard’ but that is a smokescreen. you will never see it in writing, but bonuses are determined largely by asset growth. Bonuses can be in the six figures. I know for a fact. They are just commissions given another name. There is no problem with incenting employees especially if they are selling something of value. but there is a problem if the intent is to avoid the baggage associated with the term and still accomplish the same thing. Money is money. I don’t care what you call it. It is spent the same way.

My suggestion is to meet the advisor and determine for youself if there is value to be had. A couple of hours of your time visiting your money won’t hurt. They will attempt to do a retirement plan which will require data gathering. If you have substantial assets outside of TIAA-CREF they will eventually try to bring them over. If you feel there is value then there is no problem. But, make sure you will be putting yourself in a better position by doing so. Just know that they do not stack up that well in terms of offerings or performance based on what i have seen.

Good Luck and guard yourself.

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avatar 438 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

The top producing salespeople (Wealth Management Advisors) receive bonuses of $100,0000- $200,000 paid on the last day of February each year.

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avatar 439 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

Moderator — Please put a date on the comments, so that we know when and in what order they came in! This is a great website; please make it better and more credible with dates on submissions!

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avatar 440 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

I left the WMA position because I didn’t like the atmosphere- no hard feelings- just facts of the situation at that time. For all of your sake I hope things change for the better but it does not appear so. There could be a potential conflict of interest but I cannot say for sure. My personal experience with the “advice” being presented was that each and every time the portfolio recommendation was to consolidate funds to TIAA-CREF when it wasn’t necessarily in the client’s best interest. That created many issues for me and my director who wanted assets in at any cost. That was one of the major factors that caused me to leave that institution. Of course, this can also occur at other financial institutions but most of them have weathered that type of storm (conflict of interest) while TIAA-CREF seems be in the eye of that storm. The WMAs and their directors are under tremendous pressure to grow the asset base by bringing in new funds……unbiased advice is a distant second. To those participants who intend to retire and start receiving income I would suggest that they be wary of entering any form of irrevocable income option.

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avatar 441 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Valid comments and it seems the culture has changed since you were as the goals for WMAs is no where near the $50 million level. I would say the big concern nowadays is the managed accounts, if clients consolidate to TC and just use the TC funds and annuity investments then where is the downside to clients? They have inexpensive investment options, they can be just as diversified within one company versus 3 – 4 companies and they are getting that classic financial advisor/client relationship at no additional cost. People seem to think consolidating assets into one company is a bad thing yet if you meet with Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, etc. they are trying to do the exact same thing and in my opinion having all your assets with one company is fine as long as you have a strong, financially stable company to work with, wouldn’t you agree?
It also seems that the work load that WMAs were strapped with in the past has been alliviated, WMAs have Associate Wealth Managers and Client Relationship specialists that help with the service and maintance of their client base.

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avatar 442 Anonymous March 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

Well at least now you can devote most of your time to selling Managed Accounts.

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avatar 443 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Were you conflicted when receiving your bonus?

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avatar 444 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

Yes, I was “conflicted”. That is why I resigned. I find it hard to work for an unethical organization. Don’t you?

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avatar 445 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

“Current TIAA-CREF” asks what’s wrong with their trying to attract client’s other assets. Here’s the worst thing about it, just limiting to TIAA – the miserable performance of the annuities. For an example I took the amount of my accumulation and got quotes from 11 highly rated insurance companies for the same terms (ten year, single life). All 11 had higher payouts than TIAA. Worse yet, the payouts from those companies are guaranteed amounts, where from TIAA only a part is guaranteed. In fairness, TIAA’s payments can go up as well as down, although not necessarily related to the cost of living or inflation rate.

TIAA justifies the lower payouts by a different mortality for their population. There may well be some difference, but the expected longevity for age 74 in the standard U.S. table is about 10.8 years, but 17.1 years in TIAA’s. A difference of 2 years in a mortality table is large, a difference of over 6 years strains credibility.

TIAA gives the strong impression that it’s an altruistic organization, being non-profit, versus those other greedy profit making companies. First, part of the advantage of a non-profit is usually being tax exempt, but TIAA-CREF lost its tax exempt status in 1997. Second, for profit companies have the discipline of being accountable to shareholders, and therefore need to offer competitive products and have some control over costs. As a not for profit with a somewhat captive customer base, and with an evidently passive board, TIAA isn’t really accountable to anybody. Incidentally, one way they’re not different from other companies is that TIAA too has reported significant losses on mortgage backed securities, causing its credit rating to be lowered.

The real negligence is not only at TIAA, but at all the institutions that don’t do their homework on the alternatives, and choose this product by default for their employees.

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avatar 446 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm

great points! Most institutions are stuck with TIAA through long term contracts that are very difficult to break. Their only alternative is add another carrier such as Vanguard, which is a far superior choice.

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avatar 447 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm

i found this message board by typing in “TIAA-CREF complaints” as a google search so i don’t expect a lot of positive experiences voiced on this site. TIAA-CREF has over 3 million participants and thousands upon thousands of conversations with clients each week and there will be miss information given out especially on the MDO rollover to an IRA referenced above, which is really really really bad information and it’s too bad that i couldn’t just put my contact info on this site so people could call and get more accurate information but i don’t think there would be enough hours in the day to take all the calls. If you called into our organization and were given wrong information we would have a record of that and could pull the tape of the conversation and would potentially reverse the transaction so that it shows up as a 2010 distribution and reportable in that year as income. It’s an option but don’t know if it would work.

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avatar 448 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

3/8/11 1100R
Hey Current TIAA-CREF,
I have a record of the “wrong information”. I HAVE THE RECORD, THE DOCUMENTS, DON’T NEED YOUR RECORDED TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS. I have two letters from two different T/C employees.
I asked them to reverse the “incorrect” transactions and they stated that the transactions (rolling over RMD monies into an IRA) were allowed pursuant to “TIAA-CREFs interpretation of the tax law.” Their interpretation was that distribution monies from 401A and 403Bs, are not broken down by the IRS into an RMD portion and a distribution portion – so T/C took the distribution monies according to their “interpretation”, considered the monies NOT RMD monies, and rolled them over.
One problem – the IRS regulations clearly state that all distribution monies in a “distribution calendar year” are RMD monies until the RMD requirement has been met.
So, T/C employees (1) violated IRS regulations and did the rollovers, (2) two other T/C employees
had no knowledge of these IRS regulations and (3) a third employee had to refer the issue to T/C tax compliance unit because he had no knowledge. And what do I have after three months? Five 1099-Rs that do not meet IRS requirements.

All TIAA-CREF people out there, here is a simple RMD issue you will all have to deal with during your retirement. If T/C can not deal with this simple tax code requirement, can they manage your money? I think it’s time to do something about this once and for all. Contact me at my email address.

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avatar 449 Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm

You must be kidding, ever try to get in touch with the person handling your account…You will never reach that person just a representative who doesn’t know anything but will relay the message. Don;t worry when they don’t call back it’s SOP. i REALLY WISH I NEVER INVESTED ANYTHING WITH TC. Can’t get my money out..they keep changing the rules about you can take it out and again you cann;t talk to the person handling your account…being retired is not easy. This company sucks big time..

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avatar 450 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 10:09 am

In this day and age it’s hard to believe that an antiquated organization like TIAA-CREF still exists. The retirement annuity system that they created 90 years ago is outdated. Nobody can understand their rules. What good reason would anybody have to still invest in this anachronism?

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avatar 451 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

Exactly. The reasons seem to be ignorance and lack of individual initiative in finding alternatives. Too many people going along with the herd that went before — over the cliff! But it seems that many will pay for it later.

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avatar 452 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:30 am

Bart,

If I add up all the time I spent on the phone with T/C it would translate into DAYS not hours.

AND NOT ONE OF THE PEOPLE I TALKED TO HAD THE PROPER TRAINING TO UNDERSTAND MY ISSUE.

Is this just simply poor training or is it deliberate?

Time for all of us to change the rules not just T/C, change the rules of engagement with T/C.

Email me.

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avatar 453 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

I am retiring this year, my employer has both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity so i decided to talk to both organizations. Fidelity said i had to go to their retail branch where they tried to sell me an annuity…….I then talked to TIAA-CREF and although they did not try and push taking an annuity with them they did make a strong push to consolidate all my assets with them. It seems no matter who i go with there is a little evil in both.

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avatar 454 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:40 am

3/8/11 1131R
Retiree,

Fidelity tried to sell you an annuity. T/C tried to get the rest of your money before selling you anything. I’ll ask you, who do you think is the real evil one? But let’s not call either of them evil. They are just doing business by trying to get your money. Is an annuity the best retirement investment? I do know that financial institutions, insurance companies, make a lot of money by selling annuities. They may be good for the insurance company but not good for you and your retirement.

Perhaps you should consult with a “financial advisor” at a well known investment company such as Morgan Stanley – it’s only a telephone call.

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avatar 455 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

TIAA-CREF’s consultants and advisors will sell you an annuity without the heavy built-in sales commissions. All employees are compensated with a base salary plus bonus.

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avatar 456 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

Morgan Stanley!!!!! They needed a bailout to stay in business.

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avatar 457 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Retiree,

TIAA-CREF and Fidelity also needed help from the government to stay in business – our government needs help from China in the form of loans, a bailout, to stay in business. Morgan Stanley fully and expeditiously paid back their loans. The US government consulted with Morgan Stanley about the credit crisis. They are now a strong bank and even if they did fail, the failure would have no effect on your investments held by them.

But we’re not talking about the strength of Morgan Stanley, TIAA-CREF, or Fidelity, we’re talking about the investment advice you would receive from each. Fidelity and T/C would gather all your money and place it in an annuity. This is not a comprehensive retirement plan.

Advice is hard to find, finding a good investment advisor is what you need to do first, not find a salesman who wants to sell you an annuity. Look around, find a good advisor first. In my opinion and from my experience, you will not find good advice at T/C. And Fidelity is like going to Wal-Mart.

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avatar 458 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I beg to differ. TIAA-CREF Wealth Management Advisors provide objective financial advice. We are paid a base salary. There are no commissions for selling products. Bonuses are based strictly on customer service and financial results. We are not trying to “gather all your money and place it in an annuity”. TIAA-CREF is a not-for-profit firm that provides a wide variety of investment options including Brokerage, Managed Accounts, Mutual Funds, and Life Insurance. If you have a Retirement Annuity with TIAA-CREF valued at $500,000+ you can have a Wealth Management Advisor assigned to you in one of 60 offices nationwide. Many of the Advisors are Certified Financial Planners. We’ll even provide a free consultation with an Estate Planning Attorney if you have Trust or tax issues. There is no cost for these services. Can Vanguard, Fidelity, or Morgan Stanley offer this level of service for free? I think not.

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avatar 459 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Now you are simply lying!! TIAA-CREF neither asked for nor received TARP funds!

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avatar 460 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm

3/12/11

Whatev,

You state; “Rather than listening to “nightmarish stories”, ask yourself how your investments have done for you. Have they grown at an acceptable rate (other than the last couple years of course)? I suggest you call TIAA-CREF, they have wonderful representatives who are happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. Judge for yourself.”

My investments have diminished and T/C is taking funds from my “grandfathered” monies each month and paying me with them – if they are paying me with principal, then their stated yield is not correct, is it?

They do not have wonderful representatives who are happy to answer my questions. Their representatives are either poorly trained and provide incorrect information or they are trained in such a way that they provide information that they have been given by T/C that they believe is correct but is in reality not correct. To all the T/C “clients” out there, how many have heard these words: “We don’t provide tax advice.” OR “This is TIAA-CREFs interpretation of the IRS regulations.” These are the responses that you get when you question their information.

Check your statements – mine don’t make any sense, the numbers don’t add up. The statements do not provide you with the necessary figures to keep track of your monies. For example, my statements do not break out each account balance, they are “lumped” together. The “grandfathered” monies do not appear in any statements so I can not keep track of the balances each year. 1099-Rs aggregate accounts – if so, how do you know if the RMD has been satisfied.

T/C tells you that you need to open an MDO account if you want to receive your annual RMD amounts. But US Treasury regulations require that all contracts allow for complying with RMD requirements.

So, T/C representatives, and I have the correspondence to prove it, have not answered my questions and addressed my concerns, they have provided me with false information, by design, unwittingly, because of stupidity? I do not know, but I do know that the information they provide is misleading and in many cases false and misleading. I don’t trust them with my money, would you?

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avatar 461 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm

How come TIAA-CREF needed a bailout? I thought they were in ok financial condition.

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avatar 462 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Since WMA says they provide objective financial advice, I assume that would include steering people away from the TIAA annuity product, which has performance way below the rest of the industry, as I documented a few posts back.

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avatar 463 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

We provide objective financial advice, but we are not in the business of “steering” our clients away from our products and services. Are you?

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avatar 464 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm

3/8/11 1930R

WMA,
“Objective Financial Advice”? Why is it that the only retirement “investments” my wife has with T/C are six annuities? She doesn’t know anything about investing! The annuity idea came from your people not from her. Where are the municipal bonds in her retirement portfolio? Where are the preferred stocks, corp bonds, index funds?

And then to add insult to injury, she’s locked in at about 3% for ever and if she wants to remove monies from T/C she can only do so by taking out 10% each year. I don’t know what you at T/C call this: “Deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of seemingly legitimate business transactions.” This is the definition of consumer fraud.

I have never heard of an investment company taking an individuals money, keeping his money against his will, and paying a 3% return for ever – 3%, you tell me what 3% is – it’s nothing – a person can not live on 3% return.

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avatar 465 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

TIAA-CREF did not need a bail out, i don’t know what Jonathan is talking about. We actually divested ourselves from a lot of sub prime exposure right when other financial institutions, like Morgan Stanley, were leveraging to the tilt.

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avatar 466 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm

WMA’s comment on TIAA/CREF’s “objective financial advice” demonstrates a basic point. The company is selling often inferior products, and if it’s in the customer’s best interest to get their funds out, or continue to keep them elsewhere, the “objective advice” isn’t going to tell them that. There’s nothing evil at all about sales or sales people, but it’s somewhat disingenuous to say they’re giving objective financial advice. Of course it’s the client’s fault if they don’t distinguish between independent financial advisers and sales reps from this or any company, but I think the very altruistic image that TIAA/CREF has strongly projected over the years has caused many people to forget that.

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avatar 467 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of seemingly legitimate business transactions. Does this sound like TIAA-CREF?

This is the definition of consumer fraud.

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avatar 468 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Advice & financial results? For who? “WMA”, you are trying to tell the people here that (1) you do not have an annual sales goal and (2) that does not determine the level of your bonus? So you could provide sound advice and if the overall performance of your client’s assets were reasonable you would receive a bonus if you didn’t bring in any assets to the company……..Now I beg to differ.
For those of us who haven’t joined the TIAA-CREF kool-aid drinking party you can see some are not even humble enough to admit that the level of service has dropped substantially and layoffs a few years ago cleared out a huge amount of bright people. Assuming the current T/C employees posting here have been employed there long enough, let them not forget how some of their former colleagues were treated merely 6 years ago. Many people agreed to relocate from NYC to Charlotte selling their homes and relocating their families only to be layed-off three months later. Most of those people were long-time employees dedicated to T/C who forgot more than some of the current employess know. Beware “Current TIAA-CREF”, “WMA”, and others. Your time will come and we”ll see if you ontinue to tow the blind company line then.
P.S. A major part of great service is giving correct information to clients andadmitting when you’re wrong. Try it sometime.

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avatar 469 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

It certainly sounds as if there is a good deal of emotion being displayed with these postings. Can someone please clarify some questions I have regarding the consultative process that TIAA-CREF offers? First, there is an Individual Consultant that visits our campus annually. Is this individual here to provide me with advice regarding my Retirement Annuity or are they trying to sell TIAA-CREF funds? I know that when Fidelity sets up a meeting their intention is to try to get me to invest in their funds. Is that TIAA-CREF’s intention also? Secondly, I’ve received several letters from the Wealth Management Group wanting to set up a meeting to discuss my retirement goals. Is this meeting to provide us with advice or are the Advisors going to try to sell me something?

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avatar 470 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Read everything posted at this site – T/Cs intention is to get all your money and lock it up for ever. An annuity is a “product” sold by an insurance company, and they make a lot of money doing this – obviously they are not looking out for you. An example of a PRODUCT is a mortgage backed security, a derivative. I don’t invest in products, I invest in equities, bonds, things that are REAL.

Go to a major financial institution and consult with a financial advisor – establish a relationship with this advisor – he will look out for you.

T/C is looking out for T/C. My wife never really understood what they were doing with her retirement funds – I was too busy with my day to day activities to listen to her or pay any attention to what they were telling her and what they convinced her to do with her funds – now it’s too late.

Within the past three months she has been on line, on the telephone, and writing to T/C. She was constantly complaining to me about her terrible experiences with T/C. I had no choice – I had to get involved and I began to educate myself about T/C and what they had done with my wife’s monies and my conclusion: “Deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of seemingly legitimate business transactions”

This may not be entirely true but this is my opinion and how I feel; And I have started looking into T/Cs business practices – I will probably file a complaint with the IRS if the information I get back justifies it.

Go to a real bank and open up an investment account – I have my monies with Morgan Stanley and my financial advisor there looks out for ME! Did anyone ever explain municipal bonds to you? You can have a ladder of munis yielding over 5% tax free. With a ladder properly set up, you will always have bonds coming due, you then take those monies and buy new bonds so that you can keep up with the changing interest rate environment. Give your money to T/C and like my wife, you may have your money locked up for ever at 3% – THIS IS WHAT THEY DID TO MY WIFE. What do you call this kind of business practice?

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avatar 471 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

What a guy…….doesn’t pay any attention to his wife or her financial situation yet will spend so much time on a message board giving advice to complete strangers! “Ladder of munis” COME ON!!!!!

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avatar 472 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm

3/9/11 1917R

Hey Current T/C,

Are you being paid by T/C to respond on this message board?
After my wife’s experience with T/C, I feel as if it’s my duty to warn other T/C “clients” about how T/C does business. I want to share my outrage.

Tell me why a ladder of municipal bonds is not a good investment choice.

avatar 473 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I wouldn’t touch munis with a 10-foot pole given the good chance that a number of them will end up having to default.

avatar 474 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:11 am

You talk about “Deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of seemingly legitimate business transactions” and then go onto talk about Morgan Stanley!!!!!! They were one step away from being extinct for deceptive and unethical business practices and not for the enrichment of YOU but for the enrichment of themselves………

Oh Yeah what everyone needs is muni bonds, preferred stocks and REITs…………you and Morgan are a match made in heaven, I wonder how many complaints Morgan Stanley gets a year? Oh wait they took tax payer money to survive but that’s okay because they paid it back quickly so according to you that is just fine.

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avatar 475 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Well………the first point is that we are talking about retirement accounts so how do muni’s benefit someone who has either an IRA, 403(B) or 401(K)????? Your TC accounts, your wife’s TC accounts and all these posters have RETIREMENT accounts so tax free income generated within these accounts is of ZERO advantage. That is financial planning 101, if you have muni’s inside of an IRA it’s kind of a joke………..

avatar 476 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

A rep from T/C phoned me today to inquire as to why I pulled my money out of there last week.

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avatar 477 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

You will receive both advice and a sales pitch……….The individual consultants and WMAs do indeed provide advice regarding the investment options, asset allocation, income options, etc. A proper portfolio review does indeed take into account your entire investment pool (TIAA-CREF and any other investments outside of TIAA-CREF). Once outside assets are disclosed as part of the portfolio review then the sales pitch starts to get the client to consolidate or rollover those funds into a TIAA-CREF account. This is the standard operating procedure but is certainly not unique to TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 478 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm

This may be standard operating procedure in the financial industry. However, I wouldn’t expect this approach from TIAA-CREF. As an altruistic, not-for-profit organization it’s unacceptable to target the participants for sales opportunities under the guise of financial planning. Am I reading this situation correctly?

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avatar 479 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm

TIAA participant, you are reading it exactly as it is. I would not describe TIAA-CREF as “altruistic” anymore. It is now a sales organization, just like all the others. Institutions and Plan Participants (although they are now strictly referred to as “clients”) are separated into categories based on the level of revenue their business provides to the firm. So, big schools and hospitals get personal attention and smaller institutions get the website for all their needs. High-net-worth ($500k+) clients get Wealth Management Advisors and small clients get 1-800-HAPPYTALK. And EVERYONE is targeted for sales opportunities. The T/C you are describing is long gone…

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avatar 480 Anonymous March 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Yes you are.

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avatar 481 Anonymous March 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

And where is the accountability?

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avatar 482 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 3:50 am

That is the million dollar question. Most of the senior management team responsible for building the ‘wealth management’ model are no longer with TIAA-CREF or their responsibilities have changed. As of a year ago, those still involved were in a race to try and get the division to pay for itself by this year. I can’t say if they are succeeding. However, I am sure that some expensive parts of the infrastructure were eliminated to help make ends meet. Some people I knew that were in support or background positions are no longer there. There positions were eliminated. Another example is that there used to be 3 district managers covering my old region. now there is only one. Maybe that is your answer. Those that are no longer there have been held accountable for an unworkable business model.

avatar 483 Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 10:09 am

The Wealth Management Group at TIAA-CREF couldn’t care less about the participants. Their main interest is hitting their metrics and getting an annual bonus.

avatar 484 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 7:43 pm

try and get your money from TC, I tried five times…even had an investment firm from Hawaii try. They promised me they would get the money from TC..they also failed and due to frustration they apologized and said it was ridiculous,,,,and it is..Be forewarned start trying to get your money well before you need it. Every time I tried they added another stipulation to the process…

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avatar 485 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:59 am

would that happen to be chinen and arinaga?

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avatar 486 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm

We don’t have “sales goals” at TIAA-CREF. Wealth Management Advisors have a set of performance metrics that includes Asset Growth. Bonuses are based on a variety of factors and are subjective. The base salary ranges from $100k-$125k and the bonuses from $10k-$200k. Does that answer your question?

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avatar 487 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Evasive at best. So there is no annual new asset growth goal for the WMAs? I was a WMA (one of the first cadre in NYC) so just own up to the clients out there. Asset growth may be one of the so-called performance metrics but it is the primary performance metric. Obviously service, asset retention, etc. are factored in but you are there (for now) to bring in assets plain and simple. What will happen if you do not bring in additional assets of a certain amount or range within the calendar year? You will be shown the door and you know it.

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avatar 488 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Does anyone know when this bonus system was created (in its present form)? Believe there was some form in Biggs time, but was it expanded by Allison?

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avatar 489 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

Herb Allison started the Wealth Management Group. That’s when the bonuses really kicked into gear. Herb came from Merrill Lynch and wanted to make sure that TIAA-CREF could attract,retain,and motivate the top performers.

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avatar 490 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 2:15 am

One of the WMAa that I talked with came from Merrill Lynch. Did Herb attract most of the experienced WMAs from outside companies such as Merrill? How does the base salary of $100K to $125K of WMAs compare with that of a typical phone rep with whom most participants interact?

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avatar 491 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

Herb Allison started the Wealth Management Group when he left Merrill Lynch to become CEO of TIAA-CREF. He was recruited to T-C to kick start growth at a sleepy old company in a state of decline. Herb radically changed the corporate culture from kumbaya to dog-eat-dog. This created a sales driven environment where employees are rewarded for generating revenue. Naturally, customer service becomes a secondary objective.

The Wealth Management Advisors were primarily recruited from large Brokerage firms such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Most were either washouts or young aggressive guys working on straight commission. The opportunity to work for a base salary and bonus package in the $150k range is a dream come true for these individuals. Once they arrived at TIAA-CREF the reality hit home. The pressure to generate new business is even more so than at their former Stockbroker jobs. Those “Advisors” that can can coerce their assigned customers into transferring all of their money to TIAA-CREF receive enormous bonuses. The WMA’s who can’t produce are fired.

To answer your question regarding the compensation of the Wealth Management Advisor versus the telephone rep, the person you are speaking to on the phone earns about $30k/year. The average Wealth Management Advisor earns $150k.

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avatar 492 Anonymous March 10, 2011 at 12:33 am

Although many of the service issues can be attributed to the new IT system, how much of it can be attributed to the inexperience of many of the phone reps? Does anyone have an estimate of how many WMAs there are and how many phone reps?

avatar 493 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:13 pm

There appears to be some concerns that investments in Traditional Accounts are only receiving returns of 3%. The 3% figure is the guaranteed minimum return, and your restricted RA Traditional Accounts are probably returning above 4%. Traditional accounts operate on what is called a “vintage system” (explained on TIAA website) where the returns on your funds depend upon when they were contributed. For example, funds you contributed in 2008 are returning above 4.5%, and some of those are returning 5.0%.

These vintage rates are adjusted every March 1 and believe there was some slight upwards adjustments this year. A call to your WMA can get you the amounts that you have in each vintage and your overall return. If you don’t have a WMA, perhaps a phone rep. can get this information for you.

For many this makes an investment in the Traditional Account a more attractive fixed income investment than most bond funds. No risk of loss of capital that a bond fund has (especially in the present bond environment), a guaranteed return of 3%, and possible increases in returns each year. Of course if you want higher returns, with more risk, there always are equities.

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avatar 494 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:11 am

You can buy a 10 year US Treasury at 3.6%. This compares favorably to TIAA ,with much greater safety and similar liquidity. TIAA Traditional is not as great a deal as TIAA tells everyone. The investments within the general account are very suspect. You can only remove your principal over a 10 year period even if the investments go bad and TIAA can’t back it up. This type of investment should be illegal in a Retirement Plan.

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avatar 495 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:44 am

You all just don’t get it………..you take a 10 year investment at 3.6% and what happens when interest rates increase and you are locked in at that 3.6% bond. Sure you can sell it but guess what you will have to sell it at a loss. You are looking at Traditional and in a liquid account, meaning the SRA or GSRA, where you can move money in and out of Traditional has a 10 year rate of return of 5.14% and the restricted Traditional has a return of 5.75%. In the last 10 years no one has forced people to invest in Traditional, if you don’t want it don’t invest in it……..pretty darn simple. TIAA has been managing money for 90+ years and has never had any problems with it’s investments and we continue to receive the highest possible ratings,through the great depression, through the crash of ’87 and through the worst financial meltdown in history in 2008! TIAA-CREF might not be right for everyone but the one thing you don’t have to worry about is waking up in the morning and TIAA-CREF not being in business.

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avatar 496 Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Regarding BH’s post, as I posted a little earlier, for a given amount, a TIAA annuity pays out less than annuities with the same terms from all eleven highly rated insurance companies that I looked at, and the payouts from those are all guaranteed amounts. My post a couple of days ago gives details.

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avatar 497 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

I agree with you regarding the pressure to acquire new assets for TIAA-CREF. Your statement about being shown the door if I don’t “bring in additional assets” is conjecture on your part. I’ve never known a Wealth Management Advisor to lose their job if they don’t bring in a high level of new assets. It also depends on the type of assets that are transferred to TIAA-CREF. For example, if a WMA brings in high fee Managed Accounts, as opposed to free Brokerage account, he is rewarded to a greater degree.

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avatar 498 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 12:55 am

So isn’t there a slight conflict of interest when the “Advisor” receives a bigger bonus for placing clients in Managed Accounts versus Brokerage accounts? Is this ever disclosed to the client before they transfer their accounts from their Broker?

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avatar 499 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Yes, there is a conflict of interest since your T/C “advisor” will always “advise” you to put your money into the product that produces the most revenue for TIAA-CREF. And he/she won’t disclose this to you since there is no direct link between the sale of a specific product and a specific level of compensation paid for that sale. It is all made purposely blurry so the company can continue to claim “objectivity”. Yes, it is objective to the extent that no direct commissions are paid. However, there is no question that advisors are incentivized, via metric scoring, to convince you buy their more expensive products.

And as far as the claim that WMAs don’t get fired for poor sales performance, I can tell you as a former manager at T/C, who was closely involved in several terminations of WMAs, it happens. It may get dressed up in a performance improvement plan that focuses on a myriad of stats and metrics, but behind the scenes there is only one stat that matters.

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avatar 500 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 1:00 am

This is a great website. Are there any others with similar discussions?

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avatar 501 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Thank you, Ex-T/C….As a former WMA I witnessed such terminations (escorted out of the building) and all along the ONLY statistics spoken of were weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual asset growth per WMA. In a distant 2nd place were the number of so-called portfolio reviews which were used to uncover the outside assets of the clients and recommend consolidating with TIAA-CREF. These go hand in hand. Providing the portfolio review opens the door to the sales pitch at the time the portfolio review is delivered to the client.

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avatar 502 Anonymous March 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I am astounded to read these comments. Are we talking about the same TIAA-CREF that I have invested with for 30 years? I checked out this website when I recently ran into some service issues with T-C. I didn’t expect to see this degree of anger towards a company I always believed to be honest. Are there any attorneys reading these posts that can give a legal opinion about the alleged wrongdoings at TIAA-CREF?

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avatar 503 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

Working for TIAA-CREF was the single biggest nightmare I’ve ever experienced. Thanks for bringing this dirty little secret to light.

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avatar 504 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 12:04 am

I know that many academics have not paid attention to their employer mandated retirement funds with TIAA/CREF, but everyone should be concerned. This is NOT the TIAA/CREF of 25 years ago. I learned the hard way about six years when I managed to get most of my funds transferred to Vanguard. Very good company. Everyone should be alarmed by the lack of client satisfaction with this company that we are forced to use. I have written to my state’s benefits manager requesting that we be allowed other options and have provided them with this blog site. I have also told our Faculty Senate, Union reps and all the staff. They are horrified as several were just convinced to consolidate all their holdings with TIAA/CREF. This was never a good investment strategy as I have learned. Nothing seems to improved with TIAA/CREF, so I have requested TPA documents to start getting my money out of TIAA traditional annuity. The person on this site who suggested that one start this process 10yrs before retiring is right. My email correspondence has been positive and I have a name and extension for direct contact should there be any complications in initiating this process. I will keep you all posted.

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avatar 505 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 12:12 am

I’m glad to see more participants stepping up to the plate and ditching TIAA-CREF. Protesting their incompetence is the only way for them to get the message.

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avatar 506 Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 8:16 am

I was skeptical when I first started reading these comments. But there are just too many negative posts to ignore. Marcella, I applaud your initiative. Is anyone else taking this type of action against TIAA-CREF?

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avatar 507 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Anybody who does the slightest bit of research on TIAA-CREF realizes that they are horrible to work for and the worst organization to invest your money.

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avatar 508 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm

A plan sponsor (employer who establishes the plan in which you participate) has a fiduciary duty to select and monitor plan investment providers and investments. Many plan sponsors have erroneously been under an impression that TIAA-CREF is a fiduciary. TIAA-CREF is not a fiduciary to the plan in which you participate.

An impression that TIAA-CREF or its representatives accept a fiduciary role to the plan participants — while perhaps easily formed when marketing materials refer to “advisers” and position their services as if a plan benefit — is also erroneous. A TIAA-CREF WMA has no more obligation to a plan participant than to any person off the street, so to speak.

ERISA, or state law for plans not subject to ERISA, furnishes safeguards for plan participants and penalties for plan sponsors who do not meet their fiduciary responsibility. Bottom line: if you have concerns about a retirement plan service or product provider, in addition to complaining to that provider you can/should complain to the plan sponsor.

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avatar 509 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Independentobjective:

In plain English please for the rest of us dummies, what are you trying to say? Is TIAA-CREF being deceptive or is this a case of buyer beware?

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avatar 510 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

3/12/11

What is ERISA?
Who in New York, furnishes safeguards for plan participants?

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avatar 511 Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Call the NY State Insurance Department

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avatar 512 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Generally, the Insurance department would be a good resource if you have a problem with TIAA-CREF’s interpretation or sales of its annuity contracts. That is because TIAA-CREF must file their contracts and the insurance department must approve and supervise the contracts. However, relatively few of the postings on this string have to do with contract terms.

Most of the postings appear to deal with non-contractual difficulties. Examples of non-contractual components include: toll-free telephone service; sales of non-insurance products like brokerage or managed accounts; swift turnaround on requests; offering an adequate range of investment alternatives, or; interpreting laws and regulations. Here is the dynamic: to use these contracts as funding vehicles for a retirement plan “somebody” must make up the difference between a limited set of promises at the contract level and the reasonable demands of defined contribution plans (and their participants) in 2011. When all is said and done, that “somebody” is your plan fiduciary. TIAA-CREF is not your plan fiduciary. You plan fiduciary is set out in a written plan document to which you have access (see your business or HR office) under ERISA (or state law if your plan is not subject to ERISA).

Without more knowledge, your plan fiduciary may assume that TIAA-CREF by itself is doing an adequate job of understanding the plan and participant needs and making up the differences between what TIAA-CREF is contractually obliged to provide and those needs. On the other hand, left to itself, TIAA-CREF will focus on areas where it believes its financials will most benefit (and ignore or allocate minimal resources to less gainful pursuits). Your constructive input to the plan fiduciary should help reveal gaps between the contracual promises and the needs of today’s plan participant. Once the fiduciary is aware of a gap, they have a responsibility to take action — for example, ensure that TIAA-CREF fills those gaps or introduce alternative resources that will address reasonable plan and participant needs.

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avatar 513 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

If I’m understanding you correctly, the 403b participant who thinks that TIAA-CREF has their best interests in mind is sadly mistaken. In other words, we trust TIAA-CREF to be our consultant/advisor on our retirement accounts. Can they be trusted to advise a participant objectively or are they primarily interested in their own “financials” ? If they are leading our institutions and participants to believe that there is a fiduciary relationship, isn’t that a conflict of interest? Please comment. You seem to have a very good understanding of these type of relationships. Do the regulators?

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avatar 514 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Yes, there is a difference between a “fiduciary” (trusted) relationship — where your needs come first — and a lower standard that vendors/providers like TIAA-CREF must satisfy to make products available in the marketplace. It may not be immediately obvious, but close examination of vendors’ choice of words should lead one to conclude that they are not fiduciaries to the plan or participant.

A number of years ago, regulators grew concerned at the number of 403(b) plan sponsors not functioning as fiduciaries but relying unduly upon vendor(s). There is some history and technicality involved. Both the IRS and Department of Labor released new regulations which make clearer than ever that 403(b) plan sponsors have essentially the same responsibilites as do sponsors of other types of employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k).

.

avatar 515 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

ERISA is acronym for Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Contact the Human Resources or Business office of the employer(s) that sent money in your name to TIAA-CREF and ask who is the fiduciary. The fiduciary attaches to the plan, not to a geographic location. If there is no other fiduciary named, the governing board of the employer(s) will be the fiduciary. The fiduciary is obliged to act in the best interest of the plan and participants (not in the interest of plan provider or its representatives).

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avatar 516 Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm

what do you mean by “in the best interests of the plan and participants”? Please clarify.

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avatar 517 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm

If TIAA-CREF is providing “advice and planning’ are we liable as an employer in the event that they are not a fiduciary?

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avatar 518 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Be sure to ask TIAA-CREF to document the capacity in which they make available their “advice and planning” and their understanding of the effect this offering has on your fiduciary liability.

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avatar 519 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

They are not a fiduciary. The individual consulting service is available to all participants on campus. It is more educational than advisory. Wealth Management is provided to participants with $500k in TIAA-CREF contracts. My understanding is that WM is a financial advisory service. It costs us about 2bp annually.

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avatar 520 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm

As you describe it, and properly monitored, educational services campus-wide do not increase fidcuciary liability.

Exactly who are the parties to the advisory relationship, and how is an advisory fee paid, in your case? Does each person who makes use of the service voluntarily and revocably agree to services in ecxchange for a 2 bp deduction from his or her own plan account? That would be substantially different from the plan sponsor paying 2 bp directly to the provider from its operating budget, or the plan sponsor allowing a deduction of 2bp from all plan assets (especially when only people with more than 500K accumulations may access the service). As stated before, fiduciaries should be sure to assemble complete documentation from providers whether or not the provider is a fiduciary in an “advisory and planning” service. That documentation should include the provider’s understanding of the plan fiduciary’s role/liability . Absent clear understanding and documentation, yes, the plan fiduciary is exposed.

To make this post relevant to a wider audience, its point is: A plan participant not satisfied with the provider’s services may take the matter up with the plan fiduciary — not just with TIAA-CREF or an industry regulator. The plan fiduciary, as part of their responsibility to select and monitor, must take appropriate action in the interest of the plan and its participants.

avatar 521 Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 1:08 am

you are correct. The wealth management advisor operates as an RIA and is a fiduciary. investment consultants do not work in that capacity. They are the individuals that visit campuses and enroll new clients and do reviews with existng clients.

avatar 522 Anonymous March 13, 2011 at 1:24 am

All fiduciaries have potential liability for the actions of their co-fiduciaries. If a fiduciary knowinglyparticipates in another fiduciary’s breach of responsibility, conceals the breach,or does not act to correct it, both fiduciaries are liable. Therefore,a fiduciary should be aware of others who serve as fiduciaries to the same plan. Fiduciaries are also required to monitor he service provider. When monitoring the employer should followup on participant complaints.

Employers may decide to hire an investment adviser to offer investment advice tailored to individual participants. These advisers are fiduciaries and have a responsibility to the plan participants.

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avatar 523 Anonymous March 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm

My colleagues informed me today that TIAA-CREF is heavily invested in risky real estate on a worldwide basis and has significant investments in the Japanese stock market. Can anyone comment on this? Does this put our retirement annuities at risk?

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avatar 524 Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

You bring up some really interesting points. If the Wealth Management Advisors are RIA’s, and therefore act as fiduciaries, they then share the responsibility with the Plan sponsor. If their recommendations to the participants are potentially unsuitable does this expose the employer to the liability? How can we make sure that the products and services that the provider sells the participants are in their best interests? We had several complaints following the market downturn from 2008-2010.

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avatar 525 Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm

your first question is a good one. My advice is to pull in your institutions legal resources and get a written opinion. you are in their world now and need to get expert counsel regarding the extent of institutional liability if any. Don’t rely on this website if you need to get an answer.

as for your second question, you can’t make sure of ‘suitability’ unless you are in the room listening and have an understanding of what is being proposed. However, I need to clarify one thing. An RIA is held to a higher standard than suitability. They need to do what is in the best interests of their client. Suitability is a lower standard applied to a broker dealer relationship. The context is that given any transaction is it suitable given the client’s age, and or risk tolerance, and or time horizon, etc. The broker could still pull something off the shelf that is inferior, put some lipstick on it, and sell it. A fiduciary needs to take it to another level. They are not supposed to make any recommendations that put them or their firm first. I am not sure how a proprietary firm does that since thay can only sell their product. TIAA-CREF is a proprietary firm.
They do package independent sub advisors in their fee based instruments and they do have a trust dept. otherwise, it is all TIAA CREF stuff.

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avatar 526 Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Great point.There’s clearly a conflict of interest here. A TIAA-CREF Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) can not be objective when he is only compensated to sell proprietary products. The Wealth Management Advisors are under tremendous pressure to sell TIAA-CREF products. This includes the mutual fund wrap product (‘independent subadvisors”) called Portfolio Advisor and the accounts managed by their Trust Company. These are pushed especially hard by the Advisors because of their high fees.
TIAA-CREF isn’t a Plan fiduciary so they aren’t held to those standards. But they are a Registered Investment Advisor, which requires them to disclose potential conflicts of interest to the client when their IAR’s are providing investment advice. Do they?

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avatar 527 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 12:24 am

My university offers me to go with Tiaa cref or Vanguard.. I am from France and i do not have a clue of which company to choose

thanks

Gilou

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avatar 528 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 7:41 am

If you read these posts the answer becomes obvious.

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avatar 529 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

more than 500 posts sorry I can’t read all of that. However, i have noticed that most of you are very mad at Tiaa. But since I am not able to find more review about Vanguard, I prefer asking.

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avatar 530 Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 1:12 am

Vanguard would be your best choice.

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avatar 531 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

Vanguard is a far superior option in just about every comparison.

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avatar 532 Anonymous March 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Caveat emptor re TIAA-CREF.

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avatar 533 Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

“The Wealth Management Advisors are under tremendous pressure to sell TIAA-CREF products. This includes the mutual fund wrap product (‘independent subadvisors”) called Portfolio Advisor and the accounts managed by their Trust Company.”

What exactly is Portfolio Advisor? Is it available to the typical participant? TIAA-CREF seems to have created a lot of programs and Subsidiaries that are geared for the general market. Is this one of them?

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avatar 534 Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

TIAA-CREF’s mutual fund wrap product for Wealth Management clients. $50k min. At $750k the Private Asset Management is recommended.

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avatar 535 Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

The Wealth Management Advisors can now sell a portfolio of Mutual Funds or Exchange Traded Funds to their clients. TIAA-CREF has a deal with the fund groups. They are not offering the best funds, just the ones that will share the revenues with them. It’s stated minimum is $50k. Most clients invest $50k-$750k. A 1% Advisory Fee is tacked onto the expenses. At $750K they are pushed to the Trust Company sales rep, who then tries to sell them another assortment of managed accounts.

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avatar 536 Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

So this is just another way to push product?

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avatar 537 Anonymous March 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I have to laugh. Marv Adams just left the company on March 22. He was head of Technology and Operations. Now he is COO at Ameritrade. He stayed with TIAA for one year. Just enough to get his one year bonus. In the past Marv was with Fidelity, IBM, Banc One, Ford, Citi Bank, TIAA-CREF and now Ameritrade. Five companies in 5 years? How could Roger Fergusion hire President of TIAA hire a man who is so well traveled and has an obviously lack of dedication to the companies and people he works with.

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avatar 538 Anonymous March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm

The only reason Roger Ferguson was hired as CEO of TIAA-CREF is his connection with the Obama administration. T-C is now targeting the public pension market to peddle its Retirement Annuities. Ferguson’s buddies in D.C. will help pave the way for TIAA-CREF’s newest venture. As far as his management abilities, they’re fairly limited.

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avatar 539 Anonymous March 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

I have plenty of thoughts about TIAA and none of them good. I’ve been trying to rollover my TIAA and filed paperwork on Feb. 11. It still hasn’t happened. I’ve been lied to over and over and have contacted an ERISA atty to find out what my options are. I will tell anyone who will listen to steer clear of this company. How in good conscience can a company have a SOP that is to lie to customers and mislead them send them is beyond me. If I conducted my business they way they do I’d be in jail or as least have my licenses revoked. Terrible, terrible company.

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avatar 540 Anonymous March 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I agree with you Jules. An extraordinary number of participants, ex-participants, employees, and ex-employees feel the same way. What do you mean by SOP?

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avatar 541 Anonymous March 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Standard operating procedure.

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avatar 542 Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 4:33 am

What’s the problem? Was the form filled out improperly, or is the rollover transaction you requested not legally possible?

What lies did they tell you specifically, and how do they benefit from this (generally the purpose of a lie).

I did a contract exchange during the time to you mentioned. It took 2 weeks out of the 4 they initially said for it all to be taken care of. No problems.

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avatar 543 Anonymous April 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Since Feb. 11? of 2011? I’ve been trying to get my little pittance into a bank account since I retired three years ago. It’s not enough money to warrant an attorney. I’m stuck in paperwork hell.

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avatar 544 Anonymous May 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I am a current contributor to my TIACREF account but I would like to end it
and take all moneys out, and would like to know if anyone knows how possible is it to prove lack of compliance with the IRS considering the use of previous statements and the fact the insitution never send me a corrected copy of the plan back in 2008.
As per IRS rules a plan needs to send an amended copy or they are liable and the liabiilty carries an 8K penalty per account not as a whole.

Please reply , if many of us responds we may find a possible class action

Sincerely

Rafael Compte

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avatar 545 Anonymous June 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I am experiencing problem withT/C I sent death certificate of husband April22,2004 and thought all funds were transfered to me the beneficiary. For years I received mail no statements of t/c literature. I called each time still mail kept arriving addressed to deseased husband.Then one day a rep stated he had an IRA! I asked my credit union to write them requesting statements from the date of his death.to present time. It is a very small amount.Is it possible we can band with other discouraged T/C holders (clients) and begin a legal action to increase their response to our predictament. I am a 81 year old widow who is very upset about this company’s slow indifferent attitude..

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avatar 546 Anonymous May 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

After my employment was terminated at the end of a lengthy illness last year, I cashed in most assets to keep the household running. On 4/26/11 I called TIAA-CREF to close my small retirement account. I thought I was getting good service: paperwork was being sent to me right away and, as long as I returned it promptly, the funds would be direct deposited by May 16. On May 5, I received two packets: one was for an annuity the rep said I’d have to withdraw in five annual payments. I was confused, so I called for help. That day’s rep said I didn’t need that extra paperwork; he rolled the annuity into my money market while I was on hold. I overnighted the docs to TIAA-CREF. When there was no sign of the money on the 16th, I called and was told they were waiting for my former employer to approve the withdrawal. I told them my paperwork didn’t include a form like that. The rep said she’d notify processing that they needed to contact my ex-employer using SOP. The form was e-mailed to the ex on May 16 or 17. On the 17th, the TIAA-CREF Customer Relations Manager said it would take another 2-3 days for his team and my bank to process — once authorization was received. I called again this morning and was told my ex-employer hadn’t responded. I called my former employer and was told “it takes time” and the authorization should be e-mailed sometime 5/20. My car’s starter went out yesterday — while I was paying cash for a dr.’s appt. because I don’t have insurance. I’ve lost my patience with these people!

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avatar 547 Anonymous May 20, 2011 at 8:58 am

I feel your pain. Hang in there, good luck.

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avatar 548 Anonymous May 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Can you please tell me what plan you have where you are supposed to receive your $ over 5 years. My husband is having a terrible time with T/C. Apparently, they don’t have funds where you can withdraw your $ at will. When he first retired he wanted to transfer his retirement to another company. At that time, he was told he didn’t have that type of account, instead he would have to take 20% annually over 5 yrs. When he tried to make his withdrawal, he was told he didn’t have the type of account to make cash withdrawals. So they sent paperwork for Transfer payout annuity. We completed the forms and the very next time we talked to a rep, they told we needed to switch it back to its original contract. So, we did and 7 years later, we needed to make a withdrawal (thinking we could take 20%) but we were told we couldn’t because the act wasn’t set up that way. We sent a letter to compliance and received a call from customer service. All their paperwork is very confusing and we’re trying to determine how to proceed further with our complaint at this point. Apparently, we’re not the only one who are getting the run-around. Every time they change your contract, it money in their pockets and we’ve never received anything close to the type of returns I’ve read in this blog. Make no mistake, we’re not idiots either. In my opinion, T/C does not have its customers’ best interest at heart. Does anyone know what my next steps are to take this further. I mean, really, you send a complaint to compliance and it gets intercepted by customer service and they assert them self as the person of authority – NOT!

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avatar 549 Anonymous June 18, 2011 at 1:06 am

You are singing my song. Your story with TIAA-CREF pretty much echoes my own. This is starting to sound very unethical to me. I also find it ironic that my account has suffered an unprecedented loss since my request to withdraw my funds, was initiated. It’s been one thing after another as to the delay in disbursing my funds. Both myself and my previous employer have complied with every thing they’ve asked. Each time the rep, giving the impression that the check is on the way. That was almost two month ago, and I am on the border of a severe financial hardship, as a result of this constant run around. I am on the verge of speaking with an attorney regarding a class action suit, as there are far too many of us having this experience.

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avatar 550 Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

I contacted TIAA Creff when I received numerous mailings( Fund Info) for deseased husband George. It was a reminder of the tragic death of a magnificent man. One day the rep said George had an IRA. Never had I received statements. My Enrolled agent did not wish to contact tiaa creff.I wrote a letter requesting statement and once again sent death certificate (april 22, 2004!)Is the next step a lawyer?

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avatar 551 Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 4:27 am

After reading nothing but problems and cynicism, I have to mention uniformly good experiences with TIAA-CREF over 15 years. It bugs me to see how relentlessly and publicly negative some people can be, willing to taint everyone and everything in their obvious frustration.

Through plan changes, contract exchanges, many transactions … no problems. Fantastic presentations at our employer whenever some issue or change comes up, options and procedures and implications clearly and meticulously explained. The presentations flow as if they are reading my mind, answering questions shortly after they form.

Thorough and accurate answers to email questions and phone calls.

I make a point of studying the issues and their literature and web-site before contacting them, so as to use the same terminology. I believe this helps get good results. With all the complex situations that can arise, and the various legal/financial/contract constraints that come up, the more clearly you explain the problem in the proper terminology, the easier they can recognize the issue.

I can imagine times where if I called them and was hostile, short, rude, angry, frustrated, and ignorant of financial issues, things might have been “provoked” to go differently. Instead, I listen carefully, and be sure everything is clear and they have always done the same. A good joke as we kick back to sort it out also helps.

Reading this forum, it’s like a different organization is being discussed.

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avatar 552 Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Thanks to D. Addison for his encouraging report of his interactions with TIAA-CREF recently and over the past 4 decades. Perhaps not the most exciting returns, but safe and steady with diverse investment options. Almost all limitations I encounter are due to my academic institution’s restrictions not TIAA_CREF.

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avatar 553 Anonymous May 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

D. Allison,
You say “…willing to taint everyone and everything in their obvious frustration.” Does it occur to you that the frustration is due to valid reasons? For the past several weeks, I have been trying to rollover monies to a new IRA with TIAA-CREF. It has been VERY frustrating. The paperwork is confusing (no, I’m not an idiot), some of the reps I’ve spoken with on the phone are condescending and rude at times (they don’t listen), and I’ve had reps give me wrong information (this was admitted to me by another rep). I actually had a rep on the phone who worked with me step-by-step on the paperwork, and I still received a call from another rep saying there was a problem with the paperwork. The rep said he’d e-deliver the correct paperwork which I’d receive the next day. Guess what, I didn’t receive it. Another phone call to TIAA-CREF. The saga still continues.
And you asked: “how do they benefit from this (telling lies)?” Perhaps b/c they don’t want you to withdraw money from them, which I’m ultimately trying to accomplish. Not saying they are lieing, could just be incompetence and/or poor management.

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avatar 554 Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 11:26 am

I agree. This is a very unethical company.I still have not received satisfaction or resolution: re:my dead husband,s ira. I am the beneficiary My husband died in April 22, 2004. Why did n’t I receive statements. I wonder if there is a federal agency that would respond to my complaint.II f I had been mailed statements this would have been resolved. I did send death certificate and a letter from the the wonderful insurance company that sent an appropriate letter and a small check for life insurance policy Help

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avatar 555 Anonymous June 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

It was D. Addison, not D. Allison. If you can’t even get a name right I can see why you would be frustrated and confused.

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avatar 556 Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Apologies and Correction:

Thanks to D. Addison for his encouraging report of his interactions with TIAA-CREF, which match mine recently and over the past 4 decades. Perhaps not the most exciting returns, but safe and steady with diverse investment options. Almost all limitations I encounter are due to my academic institution’s restrictions not TIAA_CREF.

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avatar 557 Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

To D. Addison,

In my case, not the same as discussed here, T.C illegally executed direct rollovers of RMD monies and then lied about the IRS regulations governing this type of transaction.

If T.C lied about IRS code, their employees know nothing about RMD, distribution calendar year, required beginning date, HOW CAN ANYONE TRUST THEM WITH THEIR MONEY?

I receive a return of 3 to 3.5 %. If anyone thinks that’s “great”, even in this low interest rate environment, stay with T.C, but you must certainly know that there are other investments out there that do 5% + with a minimum of risk.

Annuities, annuities, a product sold by insurance companies – every time you walk into a neighborhood branch bank, an employee tries to sell you an annuity – why? because they are very profitable – to the insurance company – not to you, the consumer.

Robert Wolf, do you work for T.C? How about you, D. Addison?

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avatar 558 Anonymous April 2, 2011 at 4:16 am

From comments posted here, it sounds like different institutions can have very different plans with TIAA-CREF.

For ours, they offer about 50 different types of investment funds to pick from, plus a brokerage service where you can buy most stocks, mutual funds or ETFs, traded on public exchanges.

Side-stepped the 2008 down-turn and have been making 15-24% a year since. Admittedly another reason I like TIAA-CREF.

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