Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

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Morse Code
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Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Morse Code » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:34 pm

Does anyone have personal experience with TIAA-CREF's Individual Advisory Services? What I really would like to know is do they provide good products and services at reasonable cost like Vanguard or are they one of the companies that exploit consumers with unsuitable, expensive products with strong sales tactics, etc?
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:43 pm

Don't know about their advisory services but they have been in the news lately and not in a good way

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/world ... razil.html

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by livesoft » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:49 pm

They used to be good guys, but now seem to be on the exploitation side of things. It may depend on exactly which person one deals with.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by grok87 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:52 pm

texasdiver wrote:Don't know about their advisory services but they have been in the news lately and not in a good way

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/world ... razil.html

Sobering... Thanks for posting.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by rkhusky » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:03 pm

They have some low cost index funds.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Spirit Rider » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:26 pm

TIAA-CREF is a non-profit organization that was created to provide retirement plans for teachers and other public service employees. As such it has generally been one of the "lesser evil guys". However, it is a monolith now that many believe operates for its own benefit and not that of its clients.

Teachers have always gotten the short end of the stick and generally had the worst retirement plan options. Typically, they had a 403B, where in many cases the only choices were expensive annuities and even more expensive annuities. In that environment TIAA-CREF often had the least worst offerings. Over time, TIAA-CREF started offering lower cost options than the majority of annuity offerings by insurance companies.

It was only when some districts stated offering low cost index funds from Vanguard, Fidelity, and others did teachers even slightly started to get a break. Unfortunately, many districts still have horrible expensive 403b annuity plans. Sometimes the districts are in collusion with the unions who are resistant to change.

Let this be a caution to those who believe just because John Bogle started Vanguard and it is a not-for-profit institution that it will always provide the best value to its customers. It is no longer the "house that Jack built" and bureaucracies have a way of taking on a life of their own and a benefit to their own.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:30 pm

Morse Code wrote:Does anyone have personal experience with TIAA-CREF's Individual Advisory Services? What I really would like to know is do they provide good products and services at reasonable cost like Vanguard or are they one of the companies that exploit consumers with unsuitable, expensive products with strong sales tactics, etc?


Are you considering (or already "in") TIAA-CREF as part of a 401k/403b plan, or "on your own"?
Reason for asking is that they recently split (some, perhaps almost all) of their funds into 3 different tiers, distinguished by the expense ratios.
For those in the largest 401k/403b plans, the expense ratios are lower.

Otherwise, their index funds are about average in general, but not the least expensive in terms of expense ratios.
But they are certainly not the most expensive! [This assumes that you don't have any other fees layered on top.]

The one thing "special" that they have is their Real Estate Account ("TREA"), which is as far as I can tell, unique.
It is not a REIT, in that TREA purchases the properties itself, and tends to hold them.

There are some limits on how much one can initially put into it, and one *very* important thing to keep in mind is that one can only remove money once per quarter.

It did lose in the 2008 debacle, but there was quite a lag, following most REITs.
It's at least worth looking at this if you are considering T-C.

They also have some basic annuities, and one can apparently annuitize at very competitive rates.
We will certainly look into them in the future for that.
They have a "vintage" system, so the returns depend upon when one deposited each bit of money.

In terms of customer service, it's pot luck... who you get (not unlike many other fund families).

But we have no information about the "advisory" services.
We have an "advisor" (assigned), and we only use him for the most basic questions, not for real financial "advice".

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by SGM » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:34 pm

I have been impressed with the performance of DW's T-C account through the university she taught at and which will be annuitized in one month. However, we have no need for an advisor. If we did it would not be with T-C. We would not use their other funds which are more expensive than Vanguard's.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by anonenigma » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:36 pm

I met once with a TIAA-CREF wealth adviser who contacted me. He pressure me to provide actual statements (rather than summaries) for accounts outside of TIAA-CREF. The advisers don't work on commission but are apparently incentivized to bring outside money into the company. I declined a second meeting.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by nisiprius » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:41 pm

They used to be, when they were tax-exempt and clearly a nonprofit.

There seemed to be a change sometime around 1997-2002.

In 1997, TIAA-CREF, for the first time, began offering mutual funds to the general public. There was an expectation that they would be giving Vanguard some stiff competition in the low-cost fund area: the WSJ, for example, said:
Expanding its fund business is important for its transition from a huge pension system for teachers into a diversified financial-services company.... TIAA-CREF is a quiet giant of investing, known for strong investment results and some of the lowest costs around. These attributes have drawn comparisons with Vanguard Group Inc., the Malvern, Pa., mutual-fund giant known for its low-cost index mutual funds.
Notice WSJ's talk of a "transition."

In 1998, TIAA-CREF lost its tax-exempt status.

In 2002, the late Herb Allison, a former Merrill Lynch president, took over TIAA.

Instead of becoming a low-cost fund giant competing with Vanguard, TIAA-CREF's mutual funds expenses rose. Their total market index fund, TINRX, has an 0.36% expense ratio, which counts as "low" according to Morningstar and isn't terrible, but is a disappointment considering that Vanguard's Total Stock (investor shares) has an ER of 0.17%, Fidelity's FSTMX has an ER of 0.10%, Schwab's is 0.09%... they are not by any means leaders in low costs.

I think there is a widespread feeling that TIAA-CREF isn't a bad guy, but that they aren't what they used to be.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Levett » Tue Dec 15, 2015 7:35 pm

Here's TIAA's response to the Times sensationalism.

https://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/pdf/C2 ... Report.pdf

Let me know if the Times writer has responded.

Like any organization, TIAA has its benefits and limitations. That includes Vanguard, by the way.

I've invested in the former organization since 1968 and the latter since 1981. They work effectively for me.

I don't use Advisory Services from either organization, nor do I indulge in the melodramatics of "good guys" and "bad guys."

Here's the bottom line for me: both TIAA and Vanguard have been responsible custodians of my investments.

And, no, I have not been "exploited."

What rubbish!

Lev

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by sawhorse » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:03 pm

nisiprius wrote:Instead of becoming a low-cost fund giant competing with Vanguard, TIAA-CREF's mutual funds expenses rose. Their total market index fund, TINRX, has an 0.36% expense ratio, which counts as "low" according to Morningstar and isn't terrible, but is a disappointment considering that Vanguard's Total Stock (investor shares) has an ER of 0.17%, Fidelity's FSTMX has an ER of 0.10%, Schwab's is 0.09%... they are not by any means leaders in low costs.

TIAA CREF funds vary enormously by employer. One of my employer plans has TIAA CREF Equity Index for 0.05% and TIAA CREF International Equity Index 0.06%, even less than Vanguard. Another plan has Vanguard funds at the normal Vanguard rates. On the other hand, another plan - the smallest employer - has the same aforementioned Equity Index at 0.38%.

I really like TIAA Traditional. Even the account with the smallest employer is crediting 3.25%.

Overall I'm very happy with TIAA CREF and have found their customer service to be top notch (I know that's not everyone's experience). I wouldn't recommend them for IRAs though, and I moved mine out. TIAA CREF was very helpful with that and didn't try to prevent me from leaving.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Garco » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:21 pm

I've been a TIAA-CREF participant for many years. It offers good investment options. Non-TIAA-CREF participants need to realize that many of the plans that the company manages include funds from non-TIAA-CREF providers. In my own plan, for example, I can invest in funds from Vanguard, TRoePrice, Dodge & Cox, and PIIMCO, as well as TIAA-CREF's own branded funds, including the unique TIAA Real Estate Account.

Another thing to know is that TIAA offers competitive variable annuity options. One anchor investment that most annuitants hold is TIAA Traditional, a stable-value fund that is structured in a unique way.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by House Blend » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:38 pm

Few people have addressed the fact the OP is asking specifically about "Individual Advisory Services". That may be because no one here has any actual experience with it. And that tells you something right there--none of us responding has any use for it.

Whether it is any good or not depends on a lot more than how swell the T-C funds are.

In any case, I would be extremely skeptical about the value of those services. It isn't free, and their web site is silent about costs.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Morse Code » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:05 am

Thank you to those who responded. I have a high net worth friend who is considering their services and asked my opinion. I don't know enough about TIAA-CREF to have an opinion, but I knew I would get some good information here. I basically just want to know if they run their business in a way that is consistent with the general Boglehead philosophy.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Call_Me_Op » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:26 am

The options they offer are OK. When I started, they hardly had any options, so things are certainly much better now.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Morse Code » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:24 am

Levett wrote:What rubbish!


What exactly is "rubbish", that some financial services companies attempt to exploit people's ignorance? That seems self evident, not melodramatic.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:16 pm

Morse Code wrote:Thank you to those who responded. I have a high net worth friend who is considering their services and asked my opinion. I don't know enough about TIAA-CREF to have an opinion, but I knew I would get some good information here. I basically just want to know if they run their business in a way that is consistent with the general Boglehead philosophy.

Semi-consistent, perhaps.
Their costs are lower than many funds available to the general public, but not generally lower than Vanguard.
Plus, to get lowest costs there, you need to be in a 403(b) plan with selected "Institutional" class mutual funds and "R3" class variable annuities.
Having an IRA at T-C will result in higher cost classes of funds.

Additionally, Bogleheads talk about putting increasing amount into "bonds" as time goes on, but at T-C, bond funds are less popular. Instead, most of us use TIAA Traditional and TIAA Real Estate Account for most of our non-stock allocation...
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by sawhorse » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:05 pm

Morse Code wrote:
Levett wrote:What rubbish!
What exactly is "rubbish", that some financial services companies attempt to exploit people's ignorance? That seems self evident, not melodramatic.

I can't speak for Levett. I didn't interpret his statement as saying it's rubbish to think that "some financial service companies attempt to exploit people's ignorance". Rather, I interpreted it as saying it's rubbish to think that TIAA-CREF exploits people, as an earlier post said.

If that's what he meant, I agree with Levett. I've never heard of them pushing load mutual funds. Their annuities are run so differently, so much more ethically, that you can't speak of them in the same breath that you would speak of other annuities. They've never pushed their advisory services on me (maybe because I don't have enough money with them?), and when I tried to transfer my IRA to Vanguard and dealt with an incompetent Vanguard department, they were the ones that made it happen. They are also very transparent with things like compensation, though that may be legally required rather than voluntarily provided.

I would say that they, like Vanguard, are one of the "better guys", at least as of current. No financial institution is without faults, so I wouldn't label anyone unequivocally as a "good guy".

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Morse Code » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:40 pm

sawhorse wrote:I would say that they, like Vanguard, are one of the "better guys", at least as of current. No financial institution is without faults, so I wouldn't label anyone unequivocally as a "good guy".


Fair enough. Maybe it would be better to ask if their products and services represent a good value and are sold where suitable for a customer's situation. Certainly an auto mechanic that replaces a perfectly good part with an overpriced one is a "bad guy" in my book and one whose business model and ethics discourage that practice is a "good guy".
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Levett » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:40 pm

"Rather, I interpreted it as saying it's rubbish to think that TIAA-CREF exploits people, as an earlier post said."

Yes.

Thank you, sawhorse.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Exterous » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:27 pm

Where I work we have the option of TIAA-CREF and Vanguard. At one of the orientation meetings a Individual Advisory Service agent was on hand to talk to any of the 3 of us that were in the meeting. I had heard good things about them and was interested to explore their offerings. I was also impressed that they were willing to send someone for such a small group. Those feelings quickly soured when it became apparent he had no interest in helping me. When I asked about fees and expense ratios of the offerings he told me he 'didn't know' and that I 'should look them up." When I asked where I could get the information I was told 'I'm not sure. Try online.' When he found out that one of the other new employees was interested in rolling over his 401k and had far more rudimentary questions he was couldn't be bothered to spend another second with me. Not even so much as a 'here's my card' or 'stop by the office and we'll figure it out'

I did eventually find the expense ratios and found that the TIAA-CREF index funds had higher ERs than the Vanguard ones. They did give me the option for investing in Vanguard funds through them - but only for an added fee going to TIAA-CREF.

I decided to do business directly with Vanguard as opposed to TIAA-CREF

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by afan » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:09 pm

Agreeing with what was said above, I think their annuity offerings are excellent, at least if you get them through a retirement plan at work. Their annuities sold directly to individuals don't seem to be nearly as good a deal.

There is not much reason to use their mutual funds if you have Vanguard as an alternative.

I am not sure whether the following reflects the same unit as their advisor service, but I contacted TIAA when I was looking for trust services for a trust of which I am a trustee. I had the most bizarre conversation with the person who called back. I explained that I mainly was interested in the administrative side, as I believed markets are efficient and a simple 3-fund portfolio would be ideal. He replied by stating that if TIAA was trustee they would invest in individual stocks. He said that he "would not expect me to understand" but they had to follow prudent investor rules which required them to invest in individual securities, not funds. Of course, I challenged him on that, told him about charitable boards on which I had served that did not invest that way, how we had rotated auditors and no one had suggested this requirement, asked him where in the UPIA this was to be found. By the end of the conversation he had admitted that the claim was nonsense. But it left me with no more interest in hearing about TIAA as a manager.

Now, this was the trust department, not individual advisory, so maybe the individual account people are better qualified, but at the very least, it suggested poor management if this was the kind of person they had representing the firm.

Plus their prices were too high.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by wjo » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:32 pm

I can relay an experience with a free consultation with a TIAA wealth management advisor (WMA). We got the full treatment of a financial plan. Basically, move everything to TIAA-CREF custody and you are given a plan generated using proprietary analysis from Ibbotson and associates. They developed an investment plan using the available funds in my plan (not just TIAA funds) that basically had a variety of growth/value plays in equal amounts. Also, given my investment timeframe, they wanted me to be 100% stocks (even when I said I was very interested in TIAA traditional as the anchor to my bond holdings).

All in all, I was uncomfortable with using them as a planner as even though "free" to me given my assets, they were aggressive about accumulating assets and used investments available to me without thought to their cost. (They seemed to prioritize investment categories for value/growth even though several of the funds only loosely follow that scheme and tend to be expensive.) They also would have been happy to sell me a higher level of service to automate management of the investments.

All-in-all, I saw nothing positive about their investment planning or management if you have a modicum of knowledge/DIY abilities. I like TIAA-CREF funds in general, but don't think they are best in class for financial advice.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by grok87 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:54 pm

wjo wrote:I can relay an experience with a free consultation with a TIAA wealth management advisor (WMA). We got the full treatment of a financial plan. Basically, move everything to TIAA-CREF custody and you are given a plan generated using proprietary analysis from Ibbotson and associates. They developed an investment plan using the available funds in my plan (not just TIAA funds) that basically had a variety of growth/value plays in equal amounts. Also, given my investment timeframe, they wanted me to be 100% stocks (even when I said I was very interested in TIAA traditional as the anchor to my bond holdings).

All in all, I was uncomfortable with using them as a planner as even though "free" to me given my assets, they were aggressive about accumulating assets and used investments available to me without thought to their cost. (They seemed to prioritize investment categories for value/growth even though several of the funds only loosely follow that scheme and tend to be expensive.) They also would have been happy to sell me a higher level of service to automate management of the investments.

All-in-all, I saw nothing positive about their investment planning or management if you have a modicum of knowledge/DIY abilities. I like TIAA-CREF funds in general, but don't think they are best in class for financial advice.

sounds about what i would have expected. i'm sure their pushing Nuveen funds now too.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Levett » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:41 pm

"sounds about what i would have expected. i'm sure their [sic] pushing Nuveen funds now too."

Gosh.

I keep sitting by my smartphone and my tablet and my laptop waiting for TIAA to ring me up about hot new prospects with Nuveen.

Doggone. No messages yet.

If not Nuveen, why not a Maytag? :P

This is not what I or Grok expected.

I am so dis com bob u la ted. :wink:

Lev
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by beardsworth » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:42 pm

grok87 wrote:
i'm sure their pushing Nuveen funds now too.


grok, I've always had the impression, from your posts on this forum, that you don't make careless assertions. While it is true that TIAA-CREF bought the Nuveen company earlier this year, in substantial part as a revenue generator for the account which supports TIAA annuitants, is there any actual evidence that TIAA-CREF is "pushing" Nuveen funds on TIAA-CREF's own clients? Or are you just making a "gut" assumption?

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by grok87 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:10 pm

beardsworth wrote:
grok87 wrote:
i'm sure their pushing Nuveen funds now too.


grok, I've always had the impression, from your posts on this forum, that you don't make careless assertions. While it is true that TIAA-CREF bought the Nuveen company earlier this year, in substantial part as a revenue generator for the account which supports TIAA annuitants, is there any actual evidence that TIAA-CREF is "pushing" Nuveen funds on TIAA-CREF's own clients? Or are you just making a "gut" assumption?

well i haven't done a consultation with TIAA CREF yet. If i do do one, i'll report back.
these links seem to suggest that they are both interested in cross selling each others products.
http://www1.tiaa-cref.org/tcm/rochester ... -planning/
http://www.nuveen.com/MutualFunds/TIAA-CREF/

the nuveen link is more explicit. the tiaa cref discloses Nuveen in the footnotes, presumably to cover themselves if it is something they discuss during the consultation.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by ofcmetz » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:06 am

I doubt I'll ever have enough with them to have them offer me any wealth management advice. Out of the 403B funds my employer offers I think they serve my needs the best. I only use them for the Traditional Fund and the Real Estate Fund. I transferred about half of my account value out a year or so ago directly to my state retirement system to buy some pension credit. They handled that transfer smoothly and didn't give me any issues. I think they are cheaper than many on their funds, but I don't think their equity funds can keep up with equity index offerings from Fidelity, Blackrock, Schawb, or Vanguard on costs. I think TIAA complements an IRA at Vanguard or somewhere else nicely, but I don't think I'd want 100% of my investments with them.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by MN Finance » Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:55 am

Try google
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by traveltoomuch » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:18 pm

They aren't malicious, but they don't offer much that I want to buy, TREA being the notable exception.

Bad things about TIAA-CREF: They are fond of paperwork. If you try to move funds between an outside brokerage and one of their variable-annuity accounts (e.g. accounts that could hold TREA), you can't use ACATS for a quick transfer - it has to be on paper, and it can easily take two weeks. But they do generally get things done, and internal things are quick enough.

Their products tend to be expensive. They changed the fee structure on their variable annuity funds in early 2015 - IRAs and small employer plans pay $$$ (see their R1 share class), while big employer plans pay more modest fees.

I've seen an employer plan where TIAA-CREF acts as record keeper, but the plan still offers cheap Vanguard (et. al.) funds. TIAA-CREF adds a .30% wrap fee, including on assets in TIAA-CREF investments like TREA. .30% seems high to me for such an account, especially when I see 401k plans with record keeper fees down about 5 or 6 basis points.


Good things about TIAA-CREF: they are generally customer-friendly. When something goes awry, they might be willing to err in your favor (e.g. in a case where they cut a check which never got deposited, I've seen them offer to reverse the withdrawal - it went back into the same funds in the same number of shares, as though it never came out, and with full market gains/losses in the intervening time.)

Advisor quality is highly variable. I've seen a TIAA advisor who was deliberately unhelpful. I've seen a TIAA advisor who claimed to not know what a CFP credential is. I've seen TIAA advisors who were only willing to advise on funds held at TIAA, which was pretty useless when I was wanting to talk about whole-portfolio asset allocation. And I've seen their advisors give mediocre advice - like encouraging annuitization of 403b money without regard to retirement tax planning. But the people have generally been helpful, if not very creative.

Summary: I use them, but only for TREA. If I ever need to rebalance out of TREA, I might consider holding some tiny bits of other investments there, just to save the pain of moving the funds to a different firm.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by DonCamillo » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:33 pm

duplicate
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by DonCamillo » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:34 pm

If you work for a large enough university or agency that you qualify for their lowest fee level, the R3 expense level, TIAA-CREF is only five to ten times as expensive as Vanguard, which is relatively tolerable. If you are investing at their R1, R2, or IRA (public) expense levels, only use TIAA-CREF if all your other options are worse.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by sawhorse » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:01 am

DonCamillo wrote:If you work for a large enough university or agency that you qualify for their lowest fee level, the R3 expense level, TIAA-CREF is only five to ten times as expensive as Vanguard, which is relatively tolerable. If you are investing at their R1, R2, or IRA (public) expense levels, only use TIAA-CREF if all your other options are worse.

In my R3 account, there are TIAA-CREF index funds less expensive than Vanguard's (0.06% international equity index for example) and also Vanguard index funds at the normal Vanguard rates.

It sounds like your R3 plan isn't nearly as good. Plan quality variation, even within the same tier, is huge for TIAA-CREF.

I highly recommend using them for employer accounts due to the availability of TIAA Traditional. Even the R1 accounts are yielding 3.25% minimum. But I don't recommend them for IRAs for anything other than Real Estate.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by nisiprius » Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:20 pm

grok87 wrote:well i haven't done a consultation with TIAA CREF yet. If i do do one, i'll report back.
these links seem to suggest that they are both interested in cross selling each others products.
http://www1.tiaa-cref.org/tcm/rochester ... -planning/
http://www.nuveen.com/MutualFunds/TIAA-CREF/

the nuveen link is more explicit. the tiaa cref discloses Nuveen in the footnotes, presumably to cover themselves if it is something they discuss during the consultation.
I admit to a bias, and hoped you'd found a smoking gun, but, honestly--the TIAA link really says nothing, and the gist of the Nuveen link is that Nuveen "relationship managers" will start offering customers TIAA-CREF mutual funds. But you are right, it indicates some kind of interest in cross-marketing.

I'm would say though that I'm not enthusiastic about TIAA-CREF acquiring a relationship witha company that offers an S&P 500 index fund with an expense ratio of 0.62%.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by DonCamillo » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:16 pm

sawhorse wrote:In my R3 account, there are TIAA-CREF index funds less expensive than Vanguard's (0.06% international equity index for example) and also Vanguard index funds at the normal Vanguard rates.

It sounds like your R3 plan isn't nearly as good. Plan quality variation, even within the same tier, is huge for TIAA-CREF.

My least expensive TIAA-CREF option is CREF Equity Index at 0.29%. Bond is 0.37%, Inflation Indexed Bond is 0.32%. CREF stock is 0.37%. The only Vanguard fund I can get through CREF is TIAA Access Vanguard Select Value at 0.54%.

My wife retired from a small school at the R1 level. Her expenses are much higher. She had an IRA with CREF, but we moved it to Vanguard before the fees went up.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Careful » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:42 am

sawhorse wrote:
DonCamillo wrote:I highly recommend using them for employer accounts due to the availability of TIAA Traditional. Even the R1 accounts are yielding 3.25% minimum. But I don't recommend them for IRAs for anything other than Real Estate.


Sawhorse and others - do you use TIAA Traditional for your bonds allocation, essentially?

Spouse has T-C (R1) and we are looking at rolling over old 403Bs (R1) and Rollover IRA (currently at T-C) to T-C 403b at current workplace (R3/ Institutional Shares).

Spouse's current workplace also has Vanguard funds at normal Vanguard ERs so my thinking is to use Vanguard Total Stock Market plus TIAA Trad plus TC Real Estate. My thinking keeps evolving as I find out new info. (However I also have VG Total Stock Market in my 403B -- not at T-C) since retirement assets are roughly evenly split between the two of us, maybe spouse should go heavy in Trad (even with the lack of mobility?) and RE, and we can get TSM in my account and our Roth IRAs?

I have a thread going on this elsewhere on the board, though my thinking continues to evolve...Appreciate the thoughts from the T-C experts!

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Levett » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:37 am

I am not an expert, but I'm an old TIAA guy (won't be that long til it's 50 yrs--sheesh :wink: ).

Traditional, when I was in accumulation stage, was 100% of my bond allocation.

In retirement, Traditional remains the majority (not the total) of fixed income.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Dandy » Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:45 am

My sense is that they are a bit less good than they used to be. My daughter works at a University and wanted me to look at her investments and choices. I found their web site and other information almost intentionally confusing and non informative.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Mike83 » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:21 pm

As a VG and TIAA customer, VG is the better of the two. TIAA is not a bad company and is much better, much better, than most.

Investment Fees: VG
Life Insurance: TIAA
Annuity: VG
Overall: VG

For perspective, VG is in a small class of very low cost providers, top 5%. TIAA is one level more expensive, but likely still in an exclusive group of the best 10%. Others are much much worse and less transparent, less aligned with customer interest.

I keep TIAA in my mix for their specialty real estate, low cost life insurance, and 'traditional' fund bond alternative. Everything else VG.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by rakamaka » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:15 am

It is easy to invest in TIAA. It is super-difficult to take money out. They will make you running with (printed, missing, numerous) forms to mail or trick you to transfer into 10 year equal pay annuity instead of lumpsum withdrawal at retirement.
Not good while you need money the most.
BTW thir brokerage charges of $14/trade is biggest rip-off(compared to $5 at many sites)
in industry unleashed on unsuspecting senior citizens.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Careful » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:47 am

rakamaka wrote:It is easy to invest in TIAA. It is super-difficult to take money out. They will make you running with (printed, missing, numerous) forms to mail or trick you to transfer into 10 year equal pay annuity instead of lumpsum withdrawal at retirement.
Not good while you need money the most.
.


rakamaka - Are you talking about the restrictions on TIAA Traditional - the guaranteed fund? Or are there difficulties on moving other things out of T-C also?

I'm not aware of the 10-year equal pay annuity vs lumpsum -- could you explain that further? We both have T-C 503Bs (mine is old, and small, spouse's is current and likely to grow larger -- but we could do VG Funds at Spouse's 403B run by T-C...

thanks for clarification!

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Careful » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:51 am

Mike83 wrote:As a VG and TIAA customer, VG is the better of the two. TIAA is not a bad company and is much better, much better, than most.

I keep TIAA in my mix for their specialty real estate, low cost life insurance, and 'traditional' fund bond alternative. Everything else VG.


Good to hear your perspective...so you mean you are invested with TIAA Traditional and TIAA Real Estate Fund, only?

Did you used to have other funds with T-C and dumped them in favor of VG?

T-C is confusing, I agree. Definitely not as low-cost as VG, for sure, but on the plus side, at least I haven't gotten mixed up in Edward Jones, Oppenheimer and load funds etc. (Actually I had Merrill Lynch for my first IRAs but thankfully got out of that by the time I was 30 or so. Moved to T-C -- a big step up from ML for sure!).

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by Gretchen » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:34 pm

DH has TIAA/CREF through a former employer -- a university affiliate with a rather large plan -- and we also have two Fidelity rollover IRAs, my current 401(K) with Schwab, and after-tax money with Vanguard. We had a meeting with TIAA-CREF's Individual Advisory Services three summers ago (included free with DH's plan) and were favorably impressed, for the most part. Their recommended fund type allocation was almost exactly what I already had us in, so I consider that absolutely brilliant, of course. (I say "I" because DH has zero interest in finances. He just wants to know if we have enough money for his computers and photographic equipment.)

My big divergence with their recommendation was that they wanted us to very rapidly do Roth conversions of the rollover IRAs, paying tax at the 28% rate now to avoid 25% later. Does not compute! I'm doing some smaller conversions over the next few years, but with a careful eye on current vs future taxes.

The advisor said, of course, that he'd love for us to move everything under the TIAA/CREF umbrella, but he didn't press us on it.

I'd happily use them again (for free, of course), but as a second opinion to my own planning.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by siahus » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:00 pm

Hi
I recently consolidated my savings (retirement and nonretirement) into Vanguard (they were in Fidelity and Vanguard and I never knew what Fidelity was charging me, though I loved their website and don't like Vanguard's) bec of most of my friends and family telling me that Vanguard has lowest costs.
Now my advisor from Fidelity, who I have had annual meetings with, has moved to TIAA and we went over my portfolio last week. He is suggesting that I move everything to TIAA - I am not sure about that. This post is from 2015 - I wanted to get latest opinion from members here - I am not inclined to Vanguard - just a gut feeling - but also don't want to lose my advisor, as I like face to face meetings and Vanguard does not do well in this department. I can't trust someone I cannot even have a Skype sort of meeting! Maybe Vanguard should try that. Thanks!

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by nisiprius » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:11 pm

Personally I believe in inertia and sales resistance.

What reasons is the advisor giving for doing this?

What kinds of assets do you have now, and what kinds of assets would he want to be replacing them with?

Would you be paying a fee for advisory services, and, if not, how does the advisor get paid?

If you just want something "just like my Vanguard account but with the ability to talk to someone face-to-face," that's something that Fidelity and Schwab offer, if their storefronts are convenient. Is TIAA-CREF offering this now?
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:48 pm

nisiprius wrote:If you just want something "just like my Vanguard account but with the ability to talk to someone face-to-face," that's something that Fidelity and Schwab offer, if their storefronts are convenient. Is TIAA-CREF offering this now?


My TIAA Wealth Management Advisor (WMA) has been available to meet with me face-to-face in his brick-and-mortar office within a large TIAA office suite just five minutes drive away ever since I left enough of my late husband's assets there to qualify in 2013. (Not sure what the minimum is but it is definitely less than Vanguard Flagship status.) Also he has been very responsive via email. Given the occasionally byzantine nature of TIAA rules and paperwork and the difficulty of doing certain kinds of transfers on their website, it's been helpful to have that brick and mortar office nearby.

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by livesoft » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:03 pm

siahus wrote:...- but also don't want to lose my advisor, as I like face to face meetings and Vanguard does not do well in this department. I can't trust someone I cannot even have a Skype sort of meeting! Maybe Vanguard should try that. Thanks!

Vanguard does offer face-to-face video chats.
You can even expect face-to-face meetings with your advisor via videoconferences.
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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by siahus » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:45 pm

nisiprius wrote:Personally I believe in inertia and sales resistance.

What reasons is the advisor giving for doing this?

What kinds of assets do you have now, and what kinds of assets would he want to be replacing them with?

Would you be paying a fee for advisory services, and, if not, how does the advisor get paid?

If you just want something "just like my Vanguard account but with the ability to talk to someone face-to-face," that's something that Fidelity and Schwab offer, if their storefronts are convenient. Is TIAA-CREF offering this now?


Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions:

1. The advisor used to work with me face to face via Fidelity for the past 6 yrs - we had annual meetings and he knows my goals
2. I have significant assets - I am quite aggressive with about 85-90% in stocks (just turned 51, and want to go part time by 55)
3. There is no upfront fee he is asking for as he says moving to TIAA will "cover everything" - same issue I had with not clearly knowing what Fidelity charged me and don't know what Vanguard will cost me, if I stay with Vanguard - and I guess this also answers your question that yes, TIAA offers face to face - I am relocating from RI to Philadelphia by the fall, and I would just have to make a yearly 6 hr drive each way to meet him

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Re: Is TIAA-CREF one of the "good guys"?

Post by siahus » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:49 pm

livesoft wrote:
siahus wrote:...- but also don't want to lose my advisor, as I like face to face meetings and Vanguard does not do well in this department. I can't trust someone I cannot even have a Skype sort of meeting! Maybe Vanguard should try that. Thanks!

Vanguard does offer face-to-face video chats.
You can even expect face-to-face meetings with your advisor via videoconferences.


I will have to ask the Vanguard advisor about it - I saw nothing on their website about it - I really hate navigating that page - they need to improve it. In this day and age, if they do video chat with clients, they should advertise it, or ask me when I make an appt if I would like it!

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