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Confirmed: TIAA-CREF Laying Off 10% of Workforce

This article was written by in Investing. 43 comments.


August 8 update: This is now confirmed.

This is unconfirmed but in the last few hours, two employees at TIAA-CREF have written to Consumerism Commentary to share the knowledge that workers in the the Charlotte, North Carolina office are being laid off by management at this very moment. The layoffs began on Monday and will reportedly affect 10% of the workforce.

There have been no media reports yet and no official word from the company. TIAA-CREF has been plagued with customer service problems for the last several years and changes in executive management during that time period has not solved the problems.

Many people, including public school teachers, have no choice but to invest with TIAA-CREF inside 401(k) and 403(b) plans.

The Charlotte Business Journal reported TIAA-CREF laid off 158 out of the city’s total 2,850 employees.

Updated September 17, 2011 and originally published August 6, 2008. 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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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, 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 him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar hw

The lack of customer service is directly tied to the changes at upper management several years ago, starting with Herb Allison [recently retired CEO], who fired most if not all of the upper managers and VPs promoted or hired by his predecessors. He also decide to consolidate the multiple IT divisions – first firing most of the people who understood how to merge the systems. So service began to fail, and at least one manager dropped dead – literally.

Those who haven’t already been fired have spent months or years looking over their shoulders, waiting… How do you work in that environment?

So now there’s a new CEO – and I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if this rumor is true. hw

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avatar ruckerz

I have a friend who was laid off from TIAA-CREF just this Monday. Apparently those who do not make ‘face contact’ with clients were let go.

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avatar John Doe

I was laid off yesterday, they are paying contractors 3mill a DAY and are laying off full time employees

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avatar Me,Myself & I

My spouse was laid off today – has been with the company in excess of 20 years. It seems they are targeting older employees who receive higher contributions to retirement accounts in addition to salaries above entry-level. This is NOT the company it used to be 25 years ago. Customer service is terrible, employee morale is defeated and unless you have the proverbial “ring around your neck” you’re not doing your job. Company lost it’s non-profit status years ago, subs much of IT to India, or contractors (from India) instead of keeping jobs. Ironically, Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA -Cref is a member of Obama’s “Council on Jobs and competitiveness.”

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avatar dd

I live in Charlotte and received a phone call yesterday from someone from India asking for my consideration to be possibly interviewed for a contractor position at TIAA-CREF. I am 55 and have had trouble finding and getting a f/t job since we moved here from St. Louis in 2007. From what I am reading this doesn’t sound like a job I should even be considering. Would like more feedback.

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avatar jane doe

it is not a rumor, it is fact.

it seems the new ceo is trying to keep it quiet as they lay a few people off each day

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avatar Coloradoman

I assume you are in Charlotte. I am in the Denver office and we are waiting for the axe to fall.

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avatar Coloradoman

The company is trying to cut costs by $225 million and laying off people is the fastest and easiest way to do so.

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avatar witness

It’s true, my wife missed this round but several of her team mates were released today. Rumor is there are two more rounds to survive. This is being done quietly so the media is not alerted. The shame is that they are releasing tenured, seasoned and knowledgeable workers while Allison rides his golden parachute! They have also left managers in place that only sit in their office and listen to calls but dodge customers begging for their money. The thanks these workers are getting for surviving management’s servicing nightmare is a pink slip. If they want to cut cost, take back Allison’s multi-million dollar retirment pkg and fire the dud management. Rumor is that they are 2 billion over budget thanks to them.

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avatar witness

no doubt, but why good people. The company already has a P.R. issu. Fire the managers with complaints agains them. You can save much more by geting rid of people who do nothing but collect their NY salaries and sit in their offices. The litle guy only makes a small dent. By the way it’s 25% employee reduction or about 2500 people.

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avatar mapgirl

RIF’s under a certain size aren’t announced in press releases. Therefore if you roll them out slowly, you don’t get the big black mark in the marketplace on your stock, but it will show up as operating costs on your quarterly numbers. In the long run though the one-time charge companies take with the RIF is small compared to the costs of having that many employees.

The question I want to know is what kind of severance are they getting? Is it good or bad? Because bad packages on top of a RIF is a bad sign. In dot-com days that mean the company was near shuttering the office. But I doubt TIAA-CREF is at that point.

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avatar TIAA_Layoffs

The compensation is bad too…only 2 weeks per year service….a person who worked for 5 year gets 10 Weeks of pay…not so good..

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avatar beth

This is not a RUMOR. very true. Not sure why it’s not in the news but people are getting laid off. A lot of people moved with the company from NY and had been there for years but they are gone. I hear 90 people in Asset Management were let go.

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avatar DenverGUy

Hey Witness. I am unsure where you get your information, but it is NOT 25%, don’t state something you don’t know. I work at T/C – and it is 5-10%. Low performers and over compensated individuals appear to be the target. It amazes me how people make things up.

Get a life Witness….

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avatar Coloradoman

By the way Witness, since the company has 7000 employees 25% wouldn’t be 2500 anyway. Do the math. Besides, they still need people to do the work. 2500 or even 25% would be cutting of ones nose off to spite the face.

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avatar TIAA-CRAP

I was the first to let you this website know what was happening at T/C on 8/4/2008.

It has finally leaked to the press:

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

also on

http://www.charlotte.com

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avatar Been there done that

This is true and it is not a rumor. It is not about low performers or high salaries. It is strictly a numbers game. They have to let go of a certain number of employees to hit a specific dollar amount.

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avatar DT

Rumors fly freely at TIAA-CREF about layoffs…. How many will be let go? From what areas? Under performers, high dollar senior staff or random releases? What type of packages will they receive?

I can also confirm as others have that the layoffs are happening. Employees have asked for voluntary severance and TIAA-CREF has denied this request. Rather than let go those that want to leave they are removing staff they feel are dead weight. Packages are as mentioned 2 weeks for every year at the company. However, the argument about percentage wise how many will leave is an interesting one. Many of the rumors float about 5-10% of staff. However, if one reads the communication from executive management and the CEO it would indicate a larger cut. They often site ongoing “refinements” and “retooling” as we move forward. My educated guess is that this is probably the first round of several.

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avatar dG

Well I know for a fact not all laid off employee’s were low performers or over compensated managers, last time I checked the over compensated managers were all employed, they are laying off Adminstrative Assistants, Project Managers, Training and HR, Asset Management who were doing the work that was given to them by the over compensated managers. The Operations side of the house is conducting their layoffs this week. Poor Decisions made by poor managers. It is a sad day when hundreds are laid off and 5 Executives were paid over $25 Million in bonuses this year according the the TIAA-CREF website, search for Executive Compensation. Is this what TIAA-CREF calls Corporate Governance?

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avatar Lewi

When are you coming to Lewisville, TX to do cuts. Obviously the lay-offs are happening and more than half the staff hasn’t been here a year; therefore you are definitely going to hit this location because T-C is so desperate to save their $MIL$. Although, you state it will be due to low performances… you haven’t even trained these employees to DATE. Then you say work needs to be done still and become more customer driven and the necessary tools weren’t given. Whose fault is this?

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avatar unbelievable

Go check out the unemployment line. More from TIAA there every day this week. TIAA ruins lives. Way to go Herb Alison.

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avatar ep32

I was laid off a few weeks ago. They told me it was based on performance. That was the essential subject of the conversation I had with one of the HR directors. Never mind that I worked my ass off, completed all work assigned to me, and had been out of training for three months. All I have to say is “whatever”. I know the “real” reason and it has nothing to do with underperforming. The severance isn’t that great, but fortunately I did save up some money. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to reflect, I’m glad I was let go. The work environment there was deteriorating and will take time to mend. I also used the tuition reimbursement to my advantage. The funny thing about it is that my whole plan was to use TIAA-CREF to get my Series 7 & 65 and then look elsewhere once I vested. Of course, I stalled out, which subjected me to this situation. However, it’s a change for the better. I just feel sorry for the Administrative Assistants who all had tenure and were let go just like that. It’s sad, because I knew a few of them. The one thing that really pisses me off is not me being laid off, but it’s that my former manager still has a job. Probably one of the worst managers I ever worked with. Was more concerned about reports and meetings than actually developing the talent of the staff. I just remember our one-on-one meetings being a complete waste of time. As I said before, “whatever”. Good luck to those who still remain. I’m sure things will get better, but this is not the end of it. I would venture to say that the layoffs will be ongoing until the end of the year.

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avatar DoctorAA

ep32,

Your horrible manager sounds eerily familiar to me. Were you working in the so-called “risk management” group?

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avatar Layed Off from the Giant

I was layed off too. I was rated for the last two years as above average. I know for a fact that at least 4 or more of my ‘team mates’ were rated as under average. I was given great reviews on my 6 month review – no indication anything was wrong, no goals not being met, NOTHING. I walk into work and I am immediately told to go to HR. What a joy. I was stripped of everything after years and years of work, support, 24/7 on call – they dont care. They use people and spit them out.

This company is known to be ‘Management By Intimadation’. AKA ‘if you dont do this or that, you get no vacation, weekend, evening, LIFE’.

RUN RUN RUN from this company. This was the WORST years of my career. I’r rather shovel shit than work for them.

Pathetic.

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avatar ep32

“risk management”? no. Is that the actual name? You’ll find alot of that at CREF.
(Managers that only leave their desks for meetings, lunch, and to talk to the people they like.) That was my situation and I wasn’t interested in kissing up to try to get on my manager’s good side. I just decided to do my job and succeed with or without them. Even though they laid me off, I’m still going to succeed regardless. This is just a bump in the road. “Layed off” I feel you on the “no indication” part. I thought I was doing fine and then I have to turn my badge and everything in. That’s why I don’t really think it was solely performance-based, because in my situation how can you say a person who’s been in the position less than a year is underperforming? That person is still learning the job. Comical.

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avatar DT

Any idea what CREF was offering those layed off as severance packages? Rumors float about 2 weeks for every year you worked there and a pro-rated bonus.

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avatar Someone

DT – look here, it’s published info:

http://www.tiaa-cref.org/about/governance/docs/exec_comp_policy.pdf

You’ll find this in there:

EMPLOYEE SEVERANCE PLAN AND EXECUTIVE RETENTION PLAN

Employees who are terminated involuntarily because their positions are eliminated, relocated, or their job
duties change due to Company reorganization qualify under the TIAA 2004 Severance Plan (Severance
Plan) for severance benefits based on years of service and base salary. In general, the severance
benefit is based on the number of years of completed service and is tiered as follows:

Base Salary Benefit / Year of Service
< $100,000 2 weeks
$100,000 – 149,999 3 weeks
$150,000 – 199,999 3.5 weeks
$200,000 + 4 weeks

The minimum severance benefit for each compensation range listed above is 6, 9, 10.5 and 12 weeks,
respectively. The maximum benefit for all compensation ranges is 52 weeks salary.
In addition, employees who are eligible for benefits under the Severance Plan are also eligible to receive
a prorated portion of their prior year Annual Cash Award. Also, any outstanding performance units
awarded in 2005 or later under the LTPP will continue to vest per the vesting schedule under which the
awards were granted. LTPP awards granted prior to 2005 will vest on a prorated basis. Severance
benefits are conditional on the employee signing a release agreement.
In order to foster greater stability at the Executive Vice President level in connection with the planned
CEO transition, in December 2007 the Board approved the Executive Retention Plan. This policy, which
became effective on April 14, 2008, provides enhanced severance pay in the event of a termination of
employment by the Company without cause or by the executive for “good reason” during the first 12
months of Roger W. Ferguson Jr.’s employment as CEO. Under the Executive Retention Plan, in the
event of a termination described above, the executive would be entitled to a lump sum payment equal to
the greater of the executive’s total compensation in 2006 or 2007, less any compensation actually paid or
awarded during the one year period. Essentially, the obligation under this plan is continuously reduced
during the 12-month period as the executive continues to receive compensation in the normal manner.
Payments under the Executive Retention Plan are in lieu of benefits under the Severance Plan, but
executives will receive no less than the amount payable under the Severance Plan. Participation is
subject to execution of a release and certain restrictive covenants.

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avatar No more Tiaa!

I left TIAA about 5 years ago, when they were pressuring people (specifically, single people – against the law, of course) to move to Charlotte from NY, saying that if you did, you would be immune from layoffs in the future since you’d done the company a solid. Well, they refused to put that in writing so I left, and boy am I glad I did. The one guy who I knew who was pressured into moving down there to “head up” the real estate function was laid off…after uprooting his family and selling his house. Screwed him completely,without so much as a shiver.

Strange group, really strange.

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avatar Strange indeed...

Agreed. Very strange. Joined the Wealth Management Group in Charlotte as an advisor. First, the manager who hired me was forced out. It was irrational. He seemed to be the only director who thought and acted rationally – lived in the real world. I didn’t expect irrational management from this organization going in. It’s obvious they are trimming all over the company. My theory is that it is happening now so that they can save money on bonuses for year end results. My ranking would have been quite high and they would have had to pay me a rather significant bonus. So, with never a warning or a single issue in my history, all of a sudden I had a “history” of doing this or that. News to me. All bogus. Walked out that morning. Total shock. Not only is it hurting families but the clients are being hurt as well. I really felt it was a great postion and a great place to work. The problem stems from management and I believe the irrationality is forced downhill. I do feel that the new CEO is on the ball so maybe there is hope for those still there and for the clients down the road.

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avatar disbelief

Employee morale at TIAA at an all-time low. People are being surgically and quietly removed. One day you’re there, next day you’re gone. There is no loyalty from management. 20 years ago, it was a wonderful place to work, now it’s depressing. Everyone is afraid of their own shadow and losing their jobs. Even if you’ve been a great employee if they can find a reason to let you go, they will! Probably because they don’t want to pay bonus/unemployment. Average tenure now is 3-4 yrs. They get rid of seasoned employees and hire cheap replacements with no real world experience. No wonder their customer service ratings are terrible. This company is going downhill slowly but surely.

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avatar BK

I am applying for a wealth management advisor, anything I should know? any advice on the position?
income potential?

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avatar Waiting my phone to ring

I am waiting for the next round. Anyone here any rumors? I also heard of outsourcing in the works. Also heard some people let go in the last few years did not get all of their vacation owed?

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avatar formerempl

I worked at T/C for almost 5 years. I left early 2008. It was the best decision that I ever made while working there! Management sucks and the whole working environment is terrible. For the last couple of years, you felt like your job is hanging over your head. Do something wrong, and you’re out. They try to use any little thing to get rid of people. The people from NY with the big salaries are so “cut throat” towards the Charlotte employees because they’re so scared to be replaced. I am specifically talking about PENSION. I really can’t say much about the other departments, but PENSION is the worst. The morale is TERRIBLE, and the working environment is very threatening. There are a few good managers, but the others have a power trip and don’t know what they are doing. I’m so glad I’m not in that environment anymore.

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avatar anon

2009 Layoffs….TIAA-CREF is going through more layoffs here in January, 2009. They keep stringing us along, and just keep knocking everyone off little by litte. Morale sucks…almost as bad as the management. If the market wasn’t so bad, I’d be out of here. Of course I could very well be out of here soon in another round of layoffs. It seems that they will never end, and there is no communication whatsoever from management. We’re supposed to just keep our heads down and work hard to fill their pockets. What a crock this place is. Horrible.

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avatar Laticia Burke

Here is a comment from a client (a University professor). I began suspecting that something was wrong with T/C five years ago. I called, and asked to have my money rolled over to a self-directed IRA elsewhere. It turned out that the money was “locked” for 10 years. I was never told that was the plan, nor signed an agreement. The range of investments, besides, is ludicrous. I wanted to invest in gold and foreign currencies, but couldn’t. I wanted to short the stock market (what a killing I’ would have made!), and couldn’t. I could only take 10% of my money, once a year,over a period of 10 years, and this is what I’ve been doing over the past 5 years. I’ve made double the profits by investing on my own, than with T/C. And, every year, when it comes to taking out MY bloody 10%, I have to spend about a day of work, and send multiple forms, which typically get lost. I end up sending a fake letter from a lawyer, and only then the forms are “found.” The problem, of course, is not T/C, but a totally corrupt, bribed, political system, and absence of any meaningful regulation. If the USA government can doctor inflation numbers to save on Social Social Security payments, and if it can steal the money we all put in, why can’t TIAA-CREF?

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avatar formerempl

I worked as a service rep for Tiaa-Cref in Pension. The company paid millions for their new computer system, but only bought “half” of it, as I was told. This is only part of the problem why participants had all the problems they did. The service reps became responsible for fixing the “half-ass” system, by manipulating EVERY part of it just so it would work properly. They had the NERVE to do something that I personally felt was unethical. Since the system was jacked up, to do any transaction on participants accounts, we had to reverse people’s money off, do a transaction, then put the money back on. Is that ethical? Manipulating someones money, to add a premium payment, or whatever else? I DONT THINK SO! Money would just sit out there, because the “half ass” system, that wasn’t purchased completely didn’t work properly, and kept rejecting people’s money! Participants were calling highly upset! Well, I would be too, if some little service rep was reversing money off of my million dollar account! But don’t try to speak up about it, because you’ll be fired!

The service reps then became accountable for all the messes and problems. They required people to stay late, work on weekends, do everything but offer their firstborn to fix a system that didn’t work from day one. The first few years of this new computer system was like chickens with their heads cut off. Everything was emergent, they had escalation committees, employees feeling threatened by management because the system was jacked. Management, (and wanna be management )trying to micromanage everyone all for the sake of keeping their own jobs.

Tiaa Cref has become such a joke! Management is a joke! Who put these jokers in these positions??! And then they have the nerve to put these lame, emotional commercials on TV! Give me a break!

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avatar KCS

I was working at TIAA-CREF as a contractor and they brought me in as a full-time employee in the Feb last year beacuse I was performing way beyond required. Just three days before reaching my 6-month mark with them, they laid me off becuse they would have to pay me double the severance along with retirement benefits if they laid me off after that. This is the most cunning company I’ve ever worked with. My performance review was great which was done just a month before and there was nothing wrong. I walked into the office and my manager made me pack all things and I’m out of the office within half an hour. I’ve heard employees at BOA get at least 2 weeks of notice even if it is a layoff. I worked like a dog the previous weekend and put in 30 hrs during the weekend. People here are not applauded for the performance. My co-worker didn’t get the lay-off just because my boss liked him a lot. I strongly agree what others have said in their comments, one should withstand a lot of pressure to work here. Every single day here is so stressful and you would have to answer what you did with every single minute. Now that I’m out of it, I’m happy that at least it would add couple of years of life back to me.

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avatar Smiling Now

I am another person that was laid off in August, no problems with anyone, received a great review from my manager. The thingthat surprised me was that I worked there for over seven years and was doing what I was supposed to do. The one thing that I did not do was kiss butt. Those who did would get promoted or transferred to another department with more pay by their manager. It seem the one who did the work was left in the call center. I think it was unfair of how we were treated. The major problem with all this mess is that I posted for another position, was told that I was selected for the position, but would need my manager approval. Well, guess what? Yes, you got it, my wimp of a manager declined my request. He stated that I was three months shy of being in the department for a year.

While in the HR office with my manager, I asked if I could go back to the call center but was told no because my salary was too hire for the position. Okay so I left, no had feelings about the company.

No hold on to your hats. I friends who still work for TIAA-CREF and was told the remaining people in my department was transferred to the call center becasue the company did not have any other position for them.

Now it that something low or what. And it gets even better, the remaining people left was all from New York, so go figure. This brings up a very interesting question. What did the manager have to go by to choose who was to stay and who was to be laid off. Oh, did I forget to mention that these individuals annaul salary ranged from $75k to K87K. which was an average of $20k to 30K more than my salary.

I would say, this was a New York manager looking out for the New York people. Go figure. Am I mad? No, because I think things are done for a reason. Maybe it was my time to go but one thing I can say is that now I have a life, and it feels good not to be under pressure Monday through Friday. That type of pressure can wear you body down and make you look older than you really are.

My word of wisdom is, when God close one door, he opens another.

Peace and prayers for those who are still there, who are still under pressure Monday through Friday, no life, body wearing out and face looking older everyday.

I have a smile everyday that God allows me to wake up. Can you say the same.

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avatar Justing thinking

Count yourself lucky, I still work there and I feel the pressure everyday. If I could find another job even for less it would be worth the decrease in salary. You don’t know how things have gotten worse, people are stabbing each other in the back to make themselves took good and the managers are standing there watching to see which person they can write up to start the clocking ticking to get you out which will save the company money. One less person will mean the manager can give a higher bonus to his or her favorite people on his or her team.

Who would have thought that a company like TIAA-CREF would have such pathetic managers who got the position because they were from New York and been with the company for years and was promoted because management got tired of interviewing them for a manager position. Now that the person has the position, the power has gone to his or her butt (bypass logical thinking) and he or she would do anything to hold on to management status. Which I think he or she has sold their soul for the position.

Just remember God is watching and knows what everyone is doing. things that is done in the dark will eventually come out in the light.

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avatar Rock Hill Girl

It used to be such a great place to work for. I was with TIAA for over 15 years before I was laid off in 2007. My former managers were all so knowledgable in New York. When I relocated to Charlotte, we started out just great. But little by little, the new breed of managers started driving away the talented, knowledgeable folk either by firings or just plain discouragement and lack of support or recognition. I watched as more and more of my former colleagues were let go. And then, my turn came. I was always a top performer and well-liked and respected by the internal and external customers. But suddenly, I lacked the “experience” and “sophistication” it would take to continue on with TIAA in the direction they were going. Sure !! At that point, I just wanted to know how much money I would be getting for my 16 years of service ! I’ve seen a few people who still work there. They act scared – as if they have some sort of gag order on them. I’ve heard from others that TIAA plans to do A LOT of business process outsourcing (BPO).

It was a blessing when they let me go. I literally felt the stress lifting off of my chest as I left TIAA on my last day with them. I used to have a constant feeling of chest pressure, as if a 2 year-old child was sitting on my chest everyday because of the extreme stress levels there. You would never know what management will find to write you up about; you would always find yourself waiting for the other shoe to fall. The Town Hall Meetings caused a lot of staff to feel physically ill because they always anticipated bad news.

They lied to me before they let me go – they told me I would not make more than TIAA paid, because TIAA had the best salaries in the industry. My salary is higher now than it was with TIAA. My skills and talents have been recognized and I’ve been promoted. I feel bad for the staff that hangs by a thread everyday; TIAA’s managers are going to reap the harvest of lies, deceit, underhandedness and mistreatment of who work so hard to try to keep a sinking ship afloat.

Just know that the economy is getting better, and there is INDEED life after TIAA. Hang in there until you don’t have to anymore. Be blessed !!!

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avatar Chlt-TIAA

Worked for T/C for 5 years left on my own accord in Sept of 2008. I concur with all of the statements about this company, especially those regarding the unusual stress levels within the Pension area. Working there gave me high blood pressure, which I did not have until I started. After leaving, I’ve been able to reduce my blood pressure and stress levels. I’ve seen people carried out of the Charlotte phone center on stretchers (no joke) because of the stress and pressure, primarly caused by poor management, fear, and lack and compasionate leadership. Everyone wants to be in management, few have what it takes to be an effective and good manager. They need to outsource the management!

Hopefully they’ve been able to turn things around. I feel much better now that I no longer work there.

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avatar ALPC

Wow, I’ve been trying to get hired with this company as a tax compliance specialist. Can any of you tell me how safe those jobs are? I actually got an employee to “refer a friend’s” profile. Anything else I should know?

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avatar GeneFlood7734

As the revolving door turns……..The downward spiral continues as Roger and the EMT continue to hire layers upon layers managers that know little or nothing about the product or business they are hired to manage. While TIAA an 800 Lb gorilla that has spent the firms lifetime successfully locking up and managing some of the largest institutions retirement plans across the country as a very successful Annuities based business,are now reinventing themselves in the image of a vanilla Fidelity. Why you ask? because the new technology management team only knows the mutual fund business. So while the institution should be focusing on Wealth Management in preparation for baby boomers transferring assets internally to new products, they are instead dumbing down product offerings to look like fidelity. Which Fidelity should be very thankful for because if this management team is ever able to meet a deliverable. TIAA’s business will be much easier to convert to Fideily’s books as their cost per particpiant is a fraction of TIAA’s. This ship can only be righted by undoing three plus years of mismanagement and misspent participant dollars on inept management, undelivered market entry strategies, business and technology commitments.

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