TIAA financial advisor?

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Blister
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TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Blister » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:20 pm

In the process of getting ready to retire in 6 months I was wondering what my options were with an old 403b account I had with TIAA-CREF. About a third is in the traditional TIAA annuity paying about 4.5% and the other 2/3 is in the CREF stock fund. (these moneys account for about 15% of my retirement savings). In talking with their office I was informed that my plan offered a free consultation with their CFA so I have arranged a meeting with them. I know several of the posters on this site have utilized TIAA and wondered if anyone had any insight in how helpful their financial planners were?
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livesoft
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by livesoft » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:24 pm

I get the notices all the time, but have not been curious enough, so I'm interested in responses as well. I didn't think the advisors had any kind of credentials and were not CFA charter holders, so is that a typo?
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Blister
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Blister » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:51 pm

"CFA"? Thats what the rep said but I'll find out more in a couple of days.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:03 pm

Blister wrote:"CFA"? Thats what the rep said but I'll find out more in a couple of days.


Our meeting is tomorrow - so we can give you a summary if you're interested. (First time meeting with the TIAA "free" service.)

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by retiredjg » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:11 pm

I believe the advisor is going to try to entice you to roll your 403b account into an IRA at their retail business. In other words, he is trolling for accounts. He may be trolling for the business (TIAA) or he may be trolling for AUM accounts for himself, I don't know.

There is no harm in going to the appointment and you may learn some good stuff. But keep in mind that this guy wants to sell you something. He is not meeting with you out of the goodness of his heart to make sure you sail off into retirement a happy person. Consider any "advice" you get with that in mind.

Before you do anything, be sure you really want to buy what he is selling and be sure you know what it costs.

Then take a few weeks and ponder it.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:17 pm

They are OK, more or less, but you want to get unbiased advice here and at the M* TIAA forum also.
I also have an assigned rep (WMA) and his primary utility to me is as a named contact to marshall through any "challenging" transactions that I want done, such as creating an on-going monthly Roth conversion or annuitizing a portion of my accumulation for lifetime income...
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Northster » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:19 pm

I actually had them send me a letter offering advice and follow up with a phone call. I declined at the time but decided later maybe they could advise me on the spreadsheet I had put together to help me decide whether to annuitize or continue with RMD. No reply. Posed the same question to Vanguard and will talk with someone next week. Of course I do have nine times as much money with Vanguard.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by student » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:33 pm

I am still working and I have talked to a TIAA financial advisor a couple of times. There was no sales pressure. I told him that for large cap domestic stocks, I mainly invest in index funds and he said the plan is good. I asked him about whether I can use TIAA Traditional as a proxy for bonds. He said yes and cautioned me about the liquid version and the illiquid version. We only met for 10 min as he said my overall portfolio is reasonable. I did emailed him a couple of follow-up questions and the response was quick. I thought I did not get much out of it. But the price was good (free).

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Levett » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:24 pm

My WMA is a CFP. Interaction has been excellent.

No hustle whatever.

More importantly, TIAA was transparent and even provided me, by mail, with forms ADV 2A and 2B, fully disclosing levels of compensation depending on kinds of services provided.

I was interested to see that Advice & Planning Services (I did not avail myself of this) manages $20 billion on a discretionary basis.

Lev

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Blister
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Blister » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:37 am

The gentleman I met with was a "CFP" Also stated he was a fiduciary. First meeting was basically information gathering. No sales pitch but he did mention that TIAA had a brokerage service and there was varying levels of advice/management. He seemed to suggest that rebalancing should be done more frequently but I'll know more once he puts together his plan. Will keep folks updated.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Levett » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:02 am

Blister,

Ask for forms ADV 2A/B. You need to know levels of compensation.

Lev

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Katietsu » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:27 am

I think all the advisors are competent at explaining TIAA options and procedures. They can be helpful with providing the right forms if you want to make a transaction that requires such. TIAA really needs to streamline their paperwork so this can be helpful.

As far as how knowledgable and useful the advisor will be concerning the broader issues of planning, there seems to be quite variable. I have met with one advisor that would have probably been able to charge several hundred dollars an hour for providing advice. Unfortunately, he retired within the year. The last person assigned to me knows much less than myself and his performance is consistent with his background, the investment "guy" in a local office of a regional bank.

They are salaried not compoension based. However, gross compensation includes bonuses for bringing in new business. If you are willing to read the fine print, it outlines which actions result in a better compensation.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by alrick » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:39 am

As I have posted in the past, I have systematically moved my TIAA/CREF assets to another organization.

With respect to the 403b, I was able to move my CREF funds as soon as the paperwork was completed.

However, there are withdrawal rules on TIAA funds......only a certain percentage a year.....so although a transfer plan was set up, it took several years to complete the total transfer.

I moved away from TIAA/CREF because there always seemed to be convoluted processes to follow and plans I had with different employers had somewhat different rules about when and how the funds could be moved. I viewed this as a potential nightmare for my family upon my demise......so I moved them all to Vanguard and am much happier with the service, the fees and the performance,

Alrick

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:49 am

I am seeing a TIAA Financial Consultant at a local branch in February, about a week after I stop working. Thanks to this site (Jane Bryant Quinn, and a lot of dumb luck in the early years), we feel in pretty good shape. Our Traditional portions are already in a TPA (transfer payout annuity), and I plan to move ~$800K from my current 401k into my TIAA 403(b) to leverage Vanguard institutional index funds. We walked away from a NWML presentation that started with a complication mix of investments, that included a recommendation to perform an in-service withdrawal from TSP (ER 0.029), and ended at an ER of at least 1.4%!

We are both long time TIAA(-CREF) members and having everything (but the TSP) under the same roof is appealing to us. No way I would pay 0.30 or more for an index fund though. Given the current limited TSP withdrawal rules, we may move that too when DW retires.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by 22twain » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:58 pm

alrick wrote:plans I had with different employers had somewhat different rules about when and how the funds could be moved. I viewed this as a potential nightmare for my family upon my demise...

I can appreciate what that might look like! Fortunately, my wife and I worked at the same college for many years, it being her only employer and my second one. So our situation at TIAA is fairly simple.

I was under TIAA at my first employer for only one year, more than thirty years ago. I still get mailings from them once or twice per year, about updates to their retirement plan, and of course the contracts are listed in my TIAA statements. The total accumulation is now about $41K, starting from about $3K in contributions that were split equally between TIAA Traditional and CREF Stock. 8-)

Neither of us has taken any distributions or annuitized anything yet. We're both waiting until age 70, because we have more than enough in our taxable accounts to carry us until then. We should probably meet with our WMA now that we're both officially retired and stopped making contributions, just to touch base with him and get a better idea of our future options. But he's in another city an hour's drive away, and my wife still teaches part-time, so I'm not going to suggest it until this summer.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by anonenigma » Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:02 pm

The TIAA advisor with whom I met tried to pressure me regarding assets outside of TIAA. I had brought a summary, so that he could understand the full picture, but he insisted that I provide copies of statements. Fat chance!

I love the Traditional Annuity (without liquidity restrictions) but have lost a lot of respect for TIAA.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:00 am

CyclingDuo wrote:
Blister wrote:"CFA"? Thats what the rep said but I'll find out more in a couple of days.


Our meeting is tomorrow - so we can give you a summary if you're interested. (First time meeting with the TIAA "free" service.)


That first meeting was only with one of the local branch reps who went over the portion of the TIAA employer plan we hold. He informed us we really needed to meet with one of his colleagues in the same office who did advising. This led to him setting up a phone conversation/interview with the Denver HQ who has now assigned us to meet with one of their advisors at the same office I visited last week.

So, now we have the first informational gathering meeting established, and then will set up the requisite second visit to hear the plan.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:04 am

anonenigma wrote:The TIAA advisor with whom I met tried to pressure me regarding assets outside of TIAA. I had brought a summary, so that he could understand the full picture, but he insisted that I provide copies of statements. Fat chance!


That's pretty standard when meeting with a financial advisor if you want them to help you develop a full plan. So providing the latest statements for SS, Pensions, All Investments, Mortgage, Insurance, Household Budget, tax return, etc... seems to be the usual process.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:26 pm

I had a meeting with one of their advisers a few years ago, and he was fairly knowledgeable and not pushy.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by traveltoomuch » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:22 pm

I have had a TIAA advisor tell me he didn't know what a CFP credential was.

I have had a TIAA advisor schedule a face-to-face session with me and then AFTER I showed up at the office (and not before!), tell me that he couldn't advise me because my address on file was in a different state.

I have had a TIAA advisor tell me he could only advise with respect to funds actually at TIAA - which meant that he couldn't, for example, propose a total-portfolio asset allocation that took advantage of different tax treatment of different accounts or the case where notably better investment options in some category (e.g. bonds) were available in one account or another. So the utility of his advice was limited.

I have seen TIAA advisors encourage an early retiree to annuitize tax-deferred funds without suggesting delaying that (and taking social security) to first do some Roth conversions.

With all that said, I have never felt pressured by a TIAA advisor.

In other words I have seen incompetence, and arguably I've seen gross incompetence. But I have not seen malice.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by afan » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:58 pm

It seems the client facing parts of TIAA have been poorly run for years. I have had multiple interactions with reps who had no idea what they talking about. But we're quite insistent they were right. Sometimes comically so. I attribute this to bad management. According to comment on this thread, there are some knowledgeable employees. But it appears your odds of getting are determined by chance.

People who know what they are doing are forced to work alongside those who are untrained and held to no standards about what they do. Sounds like a depressing environment. With no predictably about what you might get, I cannot imagine asking someone from TIAA for advice about anything.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by metacritic » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:26 pm

The price is actually quite high. Look at what fees you are paying for index funds in comparison to those you would pay at Vanguard. If you are R1 your fees will be soaring and seem to be creeping up at breakneck speed.

student wrote:I am still working and I have talked to a TIAA financial advisor a couple of times. There was no sales pressure. I told him that for large cap domestic stocks, I mainly invest in index funds and he said the plan is good. I asked him about whether I can use TIAA Traditional as a proxy for bonds. He said yes and cautioned me about the liquid version and the illiquid version. We only met for 10 min as he said my overall portfolio is reasonable. I did emailed him a couple of follow-up questions and the response was quick. I thought I did not get much out of it. But the price was good (free).

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by anonenigma » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:27 pm

CyclingDuo wrote:
anonenigma wrote:The TIAA advisor with whom I met tried to pressure me regarding assets outside of TIAA. I had brought a summary, so that he could understand the full picture, but he insisted that I provide copies of statements. Fat chance!


That's pretty standard when meeting with a financial advisor if you want them to help you develop a full plan. So providing the latest statements for SS, Pensions, All Investments, Mortgage, Insurance, Household Budget, tax return, etc... seems to be the usual process.


They do not need to have account numbers. He was pressuring.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CULater » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:44 pm

Happy with my TIAA Traditional and Real Estate in retirement. But I figure that if a financial advisor is working for an investment company (any investment company) there must be incentives to get you more committed to that company and to get you to bring more money into that company. I'd only be interested in talking to a neutral 3rd party who is a fiduciary. But I figure there aren't any who know a danged thing about TIAA-CREF, so what's the point? Actually, a friend of mine had her FA talk her into taking money out of TIAA-CREF to buy a deferred, variable annuity. I told her that TIAA-CREF actually WAS an annuity company (Teachers Insurance and Annuity), and she already HAD a deferred, variable annuity with them, and she didn't need to liquidate her TIAA-CREF holdings and pay all those hidden fees to purchase an outside annuity. I think she was surprised to hear that. Most people have an financial IQ of about 50 and are easy prey.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by student » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:33 pm

metacritic wrote:The price is actually quite high. Look at what fees you are paying for index funds in comparison to those you would pay at Vanguard. If you are R1 your fees will be soaring and seem to be creeping up at breakneck speed.

student wrote:I am still working and I have talked to a TIAA financial advisor a couple of times. There was no sales pressure. I told him that for large cap domestic stocks, I mainly invest in index funds and he said the plan is good. I asked him about whether I can use TIAA Traditional as a proxy for bonds. He said yes and cautioned me about the liquid version and the illiquid version. We only met for 10 min as he said my overall portfolio is reasonable. I did emailed him a couple of follow-up questions and the response was quick. I thought I did not get much out of it. But the price was good (free).


I have access to their institutional funds. Equity Index: 0.05% expense ratio and International Equity Index: 0.06% expense ratio. :happy

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:38 pm

student wrote:I have access to their institutional funds. Equity Index: 0.05% expense ratio and International Equity Index: 0.06% expense ratio. :happy


Me too. Had I not agreed to talk with someone from TIAA several months ago for a "check up," I wouldn't have known that either. Rolling employer 401(k) into TIAA for the TSM/TBM institutional access. :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag

It's a lot easier conversation with the BH principles in mind.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by student » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:40 pm

mrc wrote:
student wrote:I have access to their institutional funds. Equity Index: 0.05% expense ratio and International Equity Index: 0.06% expense ratio. :happy


Me too. Had I not agreed to talk with someone from TIAA several months ago for a "check up," I wouldn't have known that either. Rolling employer 401(k) into TIAA for the TSM/TBM institutional access. :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag


If you decide to annuitize, you can switch it back to the annuity version.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:58 pm

metacritic wrote:The price is actually quite high. Look at what fees you are paying for index funds in comparison to those you would pay at Vanguard. If you are R1 your fees will be soaring and seem to be creeping up at breakneck speed.


We have available the following funds through one of our employer plans at TIAA...

Vanguard Total International Stock Fund Index Admiral (ER .12)
Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund Admiral (ER .09)
Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral (ER .05)
Vanguard Total Bond Market Fund Admiral (ER .06)

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by metacritic » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:48 am

I'm envious of your low fees. Mine are all above .6% for indexes. I am eager to get away from TIAA. I think they are among the worst of the worst.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by student » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:36 am

metacritic wrote:I'm envious of your low fees. Mine are all above .6% for indexes. I am eager to get away from TIAA. I think they are among the worst of the worst.

If you have R1, then it is relatively bad. Their R2 and R3 versions are pretty good. (Equity Index for R1: 0.59%, R2: 0.37%, R3: 0.26% in expense ratio.) I guess you already know that this structure was created in 2015 to give large accounts a lower fee and small accounts a higher fee, with R2 having the same fee. You must be at a really small place since R1 only applies to those with less than 20 millions in total assets. I guess you can use them for your stable value and real estate but find another place for your stock and bond.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Billionaire » Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:19 am

A bit off topic. I own a decedent TIAA-Cref retirement account, approx. $33,000.00 invested entirely in the guaranteed interest fund, which pays 3%.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by student » Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:30 am

Billionaire wrote:A bit off topic. I own a decedent TIAA-Cref retirement account, approx. $33,000.00 invested entirely in the guaranteed interest fund, which pays 3%.

The 3% is guaranteed but the actual interest rate may be higher due to its vintage system.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:39 pm

Blister wrote:In the process of getting ready to retire in 6 months I was wondering what my options were with an old 403b account I had with TIAA-CREF. About a third is in the traditional TIAA annuity paying about 4.5% and the other 2/3 is in the CREF stock fund. (these moneys account for about 15% of my retirement savings). In talking with their office I was informed that my plan offered a free consultation with their CFA so I have arranged a meeting with them. I know several of the posters on this site have utilized TIAA and wondered if anyone had any insight in how helpful their financial planners were?


Back from my meeting [with a TIAA advisor]. Not worth the effort IMHO. Rep walked through my "profile" update affirming assets and risk tolerance. I needed to redo a botched transfer and spend much of the time on hold with their National Customer Center. For specific TIAA traditional type questions, or anything beyond what you can do yourself with the TIAA web apps, calling customer service is a better use of time than a face-to-face meeting. If the first person you reach can't answer/help, they will loop someone else in. If you need to exchange paperwork (in either direction) the secure online drop box works great. By contrast, if the person you meet in the office isn't able to help much, you're stuck. If you are a decent BH, with a built-in aversion to FAs, there is no need. YMMV.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:56 pm

mrc wrote:Back from my meeting [with a TIAA advisor]. Not worth the effort IMHO. Rep walked through my "profile" update affirming assets and risk tolerance.

Thanks for this report. My local TIAA rep (a CFP) found out about me and has contacted me about free no-obligation look-see. I might do it if he takes me to lunch, so 2 questions:

1. Did the rep feel good after your meeting with them?

2. Did they buy you lunch?
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:01 pm

livesoft wrote:
mrc wrote:Back from my meeting [with a TIAA advisor]. Not worth the effort IMHO. Rep walked through my "profile" update affirming assets and risk tolerance.

Thanks for this report. My local TIAA rep (a CFP) found out about me and has contacted me about free no-obligation look-see. I might do it if he takes me to lunch, so 2 questions:

1. Did the rep feel good after your meeting with them?

2. Did they buy you lunch?


Probably not.

No.

It was 120 painful minutes for me. I gave the rep a tip about another area of personal finance. When a phone rep came back off hold and started asking questions, my rep stayed busy researching (for his/her self) that tip. Really???? This rep has a handful of certifications (series 6, 7, 63, 66, and one other I think). I was expecting more. Oh, and rep wasn't familiar with Jack Bogle.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:23 pm

Thanks, then if I do this, I will insist that they take me to lunch first.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by The Wizard » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:20 pm

livesoft wrote:Thanks, then if I do this, I will insist that they take me to lunch first.

They're low budget.
This isn't EJ.
I doubt you'll get fed...
:)
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:04 am

The Wizard wrote:
livesoft wrote:Thanks, then if I do this, I will insist that they take me to lunch first.

They're low budget.
This isn't EJ.
I doubt you'll get fed...
:)


They did have killer starlight mints in the candy jar! :wink:
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:34 am

Forgot to mention that during the complimentary consultation -- and while knowing I had just retired days ago -- there was no discussion of LTC insurance, or budget/expenses, or taxes at all.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by traveltoomuch » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:56 pm

mrc wrote:Forgot to mention that during the complimentary consultation -- and while knowing I had just retired days ago -- there was no discussion of LTC insurance, or budget/expenses, or taxes at all.

mrc, thank you very much for the follow-up. This sounds very consistent with what I saw from TIAA advisors, also. As above, I don't recall any TIAA advisor discuss the merits of delaying taking social security and/or annuity income to first do some Roth conversions.

And to add a bit to my story re: the TIAA advisor who claimed not to know what a CFP certification was... 1) he was still working at TIAA several years later (and may still be there now) and 2) I stumbled across another advisor in a TIAA call center many states away who had heard of him and seemed very unsurprised that I had had such a bad experience. Which is to say: I have not seen signs of TIAA timely weeding out bad advisors.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Naismith » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:12 am

In my recent experience, TIAA offers two different kinds of help: Financial Consultant and Wealth Management Advisor. The financial consultant is the one who does the routine workplace visits and is not a CFP. The Wealth Management Advisors are CFPs, at least where I live (not sure if different states have different requirements.)

I think that it is important to have reasonable expectations and not conflate the two.

(I am meeting with a Wealth Management Advisor next week for the first time, so I will report back on how it went. We are just looking for a second opinion on our DIY planning and not interested in AUM services.)

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by The Wizard » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:36 am

It's probably a mistake to consider your TIAA WMA as a general purpose wide ranging Financial Advisor.
It's better to think of them as Explainers and Facilitators of the ofttimes confusing TIAA investment system, including the details of your specific employer plans.
Here are examples of transactions I've gotten right on the first try using my WMA's team to run interference for me, as opposed to calling their 800 # and trying to do something with whomever answers:

1) annuitize a portion of my accumulation for lifetime income with specific options.
2) setup a recurring monthly conversion from 403b GSRA to Roth IRA with zero tax withholding.
3) properly rollover a modest tIRA balance from Vanguard to one of my TIAA GSRAs, thus allowing me to do a Backdoor Roth at Vanguard with zero in my tIRA to start with...
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CyclingDuo
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:27 pm

Naismith wrote:In my recent experience, TIAA offers two different kinds of help: Financial Consultant and Wealth Management Advisor. The financial consultant is the one who does the routine workplace visits and is not a CFP. The Wealth Management Advisors are CFPs, at least where I live (not sure if different states have different requirements.)

I think that it is important to have reasonable expectations and not conflate the two.

(I am meeting with a Wealth Management Advisor next week for the first time, so I will report back on how it went. We are just looking for a second opinion on our DIY planning and not interested in AUM services.)


Correct. The WMA (who is a CFP) and their team back at TIAA Headquarters will prepare a printed out full portfolio plan based on your current allocations, and their suggested allocations. The WMA requires a minimum amount of money to be at TIAA before you can continue with the WMA (I believe it is $400K to qualify for the WMA). If more of your total portfolio amount is located outside of TIAA at another brokerage, you would have to open up a TIAA brokerage account and transfer in enough to at least meet the required amount into the newly opened TIAA brokerage account to "qualify". You have the choice to continue to manage the portion you would then have at TIAA yourself with the WMA providing a once a year review (or whatever the frequency it is you might require). Or you can spring for their services to manage the TIAA brokerage account. At least that is my memory of the face to face meeting last month.

galectin
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by galectin » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:46 pm

My memory is that about two years ago TIAA/CREF got rid of a bunch of their in-house advisors and assigned everybody to a Wealth Management Advisor (WMA). I started getting letters and emails and phone calls from him. He told me that there was a free meeting with him. My understanding, not from him but other comments on this forum, is that he would recommend that I use him as an advisor with a fee, etc. Since I never met with him I can't confirm any details of this. When I told him that I was set with my retirement accounts, he said that he would note this in his file and I haven't heard back from him. This was a year ago.

But, my university advertises monthly meetings with TIAA/CREF (and Fidelity) advisors. I went to one last month since I am getting ready to retire. It was with a different person. I brought a summary of all my investments across three places and she went over them and gave me her assessment. She didn't try to get me to sign up with anything. (My TIAA/CREF and Fidelity retirement accounts have access to index funds with low ERs--R3 for TIAA/CREF.) And, she provided useful information about how to handle converting a small amount of funds that I have in TIAA-Trad into an annuity, which I will probably do. That was a positive experience with them. Interestingly, her follow-up email gave the same local address as the WMA person.

So, if it is available I would recommend the second type of meeting, but I would caution anybody to be wary about signing any documents with a WMA person unless you want the services of a financial advisor.

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mrc
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by mrc » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:03 pm

So the no-cost consultations TIAA offers come in different flavors? I have over $1M at TIAA, yet I doubt I spoke with a CFP (no business card, so I don't know for sure). It was like having a live CSR in front of me -- that's all. Email sig says "Financial Consultant | Institutional Retirement" I feel like I meet with considerably more qualified financial consultants every time I read this board.
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:43 am

mrc wrote:So the no-cost consultations TIAA offers come in different flavors? I have over $1M at TIAA, yet I doubt I spoke with a CFP (no business card, so I don't know for sure). It was like having a live CSR in front of me -- that's all. Email sig says "Financial Consultant | Institutional Retirement" I feel like I meet with considerably more qualified financial consultants every time I read this board.


You met with the lower level Financial Consultant at TIAA.

You would have known if you met with the WMA (CFP) from TIAA. They have to inform you of that, and they provide you with all of the required paperwork explaining who they are, and how the compensation levels work. On top of that, they do an entire interview with you and ask many questions so they get answers from you that they can use to determine what to recommend to you for the future. All the information they collect is then used to prepare a printed out "plan" that shows your current AA, and their recommended target AA from the TIAA "team". They would then schedule a second meeting with you for a few weeks later to go over the assembled target plan (all prepared in a spiral bound "kit"). This is standard in the industry for investment advisors (be it TIAA, Fidelity, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Fisher, or a private investment advisory firm).

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Naismith » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:54 am

CyclingDuo wrote:
mrc wrote:So the no-cost consultations TIAA offers come in different flavors? I have over $1M at TIAA, yet I doubt I spoke with a CFP (no business card, so I don't know for sure). It was like having a live CSR in front of me -- that's all. Email sig says "Financial Consultant | Institutional Retirement" I feel like I meet with considerably more qualified financial consultants every time I read this board.


You met with the lower level Financial Consultant at TIAA.


But that being the case, why did the lower-level person not refer to a WMA? I don't have that many $$ at TIAA.

In my case, there was another hoop to jump through before the WMA . The Financial Consultant said that I would receive a call from the WMA to set an appointment. That actually did not happen. Instead I got a call from somebody in Texas who was part of the coordinating team. Only after talking to him did I get an appointment with a local WMA.

mrc wrote:You would have known if you met with the WMA (CFP) from TIAA. They have to inform you of that, and they provide you with all of the required paperwork explaining who they are, and how the compensation levels work. On top of that, they do an entire interview with you and ask many questions so they get answers from you that they can use to determine what to recommend to you for the future.


We just had our first meeting with the WMA. One of the weird things is that it was hard to find the office. I located the address in advance, but there was no signage. He volunteered that this is because they meet by appointment only and don't encourage walk-ins.

I had only an hour because I had to make a mandatory national certification training. He says those meetings usually last closer to two hours, but we covered everything necessary. I had brought in all the paperwork needed, and had typed up what some of our goals and questions were. He gave us a folder with all his qualifications and what they would do. And he mentioned that a lot of times they recommend Vanguard funds (which are available through TIAA at an institutional rate, as others have noted).

My husband quizzed him about how he was paid, etc. The planner said that the free financial planning was a retention tool, that so many TIAA recipients were pulling everything out at retirement.

Of course the big meeting is going over the plan and seeing if our questions are answered. I'll report back in a few weeks.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by CyclingDuo » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:22 pm

Naismith wrote:But that being the case, why did the lower-level person not refer to a WMA? I don't have that many $$ at TIAA.

In my case, there was another hoop to jump through before the WMA . The Financial Consultant said that I would receive a call from the WMA to set an appointment. That actually did not happen. Instead I got a call from somebody in Texas who was part of the coordinating team. Only after talking to him did I get an appointment with a local WMA.


Yes, that is normal. In our case, the call came from Denver for an initial telephone interview even though a meeting had been held with the Financial Consultant. During that phone interview, an appointment is set up with one of the WMA's at your local TIAA branch (or nearest local TIAA branch).

Naismith wrote:We just had our first meeting with the WMA. One of the weird things is that it was hard to find the office. I located the address in advance, but there was no signage. He volunteered that this is because they meet by appointment only and don't encourage walk-ins.

I had only an hour because I had to make a mandatory national certification training. He says those meetings usually last closer to two hours, but we covered everything necessary. I had brought in all the paperwork needed, and had typed up what some of our goals and questions were. He gave us a folder with all his qualifications and what they would do. And he mentioned that a lot of times they recommend Vanguard funds (which are available through TIAA at an institutional rate, as others have noted).

My husband quizzed him about how he was paid, etc. The planner said that the free financial planning was a retention tool, that so many TIAA recipients were pulling everything out at retirement.

Of course the big meeting is going over the plan and seeing if our questions are answered. I'll report back in a few weeks.


That's all pretty standard. Meeting one is about an hour or an hour plus. The WMA gathers information, gets copies of your various statements, asks questions, takes notes. Before you leave, a second appointment is scheduled two or more weeks out to give TIAA and their "team" time to put together a spiral bound booklet that has your current allocation, and their recommended target allocation to meet your goals.

That's where you are in the process as of now. Your next meeting is where you will get to see all of that and take it home with you to ponder.

Lots of nice charts and graphs of the Monte Carlo simulation will be in there, and you will get to discuss it all during your second meeting with the WMA. Then the next step comes where they will ask what level of service you would like to engage with them. Guidance only for you to DIY (must have at least $400K with them - or move enough funds from your other investments to TIAA brokerage to make the required $400K minimum), or partial management of a portion of your portfolio, or full management of your portfolio. There are AUM fees, of course, for the various levels beyond the guidance level from the WMA if you decide to DIY your $400K+ at TIAA. For obvious fiduciary reasons, they can only provide advice on the funds that are at TIAA

Make sure you compare the AUM fees with Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, Personal Capital, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Ameriprise - or wherever else you are looking. Step back, review it all, and decide what you want to do. Pay somebody an AUM fee, or not pay someone an AUM fee. We went into it all with our eyes wide open, and are currently in the coming out of it phase as we narrow down a joint decision that satisfies both of us. There's no rush, so take your time thinking everything through. Investing is a multi-decade journey for all of us. Actually the first multi-decade before retirement, then the second multi-decade post retirement.

Post up your thoughts after your next TIAA meeting with the WMA.

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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by afan » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:51 am

Interesting. A few years ago TIAA mailed me a packet about their asset management services. They explained that they employed advisors who were compensated largely based on the assets they accumlated under management. I don't remember whether there was anything else that produced income for the advisor. They introduced the person who had been assigned to me, apparently by geography, since he was local.

The information did not suggest they offered anything I wanted, so I never contacted them.
About 6 months ago this guy calls my office. Since I have money at TIAA, and I did not recognize his name as "my" advisor, I called back to see what was up. Then I got a pitch that I was lucky that I could get a free retirement consultation.

At first, I thought, and said, "Great! I am struggling with several retirement questions right now". It went downhill from there as it became clear that he did not actually know anything about my questions

1. Roth conversions. Did it make sense to do Roth conversions at all? I am in a high tax bracket and expect to work past the point of starting required minimum distributions and Social Security. So I would not have a period of lower earnings when I could convert with limited tax hit.
2. Asset protection of various retirement funds. 403(b) vs 401(k) vs rollover IRA.
3. Optimal distribution strategies, including gifting and charitable plans to maximize the after tax amount transferred to heirs.

All I got was vague "we can help, let's meet and go over your situation". When I suggested we might be able to address these right now, over the phone since I had taken the time to return the call, I got more vagueness. Eventually, he admitted that TIAA would not help with either of these questions. He continued to imply that he possessed a lot of useful information, but would not say what it was.

He said they could project retirement funds. I asked how they did that- Monte Carlo simulation? Deterministic? Historical returns. Again, not sure he understood the question, but he definitely did not answer it.

He asked whether I knew how much I would have to spend at retirement and I said Required Minimum Distributions plus Social Security. This seemed not to be the answer he wanted. He asked what if the market goes down? I said that unless it goes to zero I would still be required to take RMD's. Apparently that was the wrong answer.

Out of curiosity, I looked him up. He had been at TIAA for a couple of years after decades at big high fee stock brokers. Not a CFP. At no point did he suggest he could help with anything outside of investment management. I told him I might be interested in meeting if he could tell me what he could offer. All he could say is that he could help. So I gave up.

If you want to hire TIAA to manage your non-retirement assets I assume they will do it for an AUM fee and perform about as well as active managers perform. It did not seem they would do anything else.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

Naismith
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Re: TIAA financial advisor?

Post by Naismith » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:28 pm

Okay, following up on our meeting with the Wealth Advisor.

In between our initial fact-finding meeting with the WA and the followup meeting where we received our reports, we did receive the forms ADV 2A/B form in the mail. This is multiple pages and was clear not only about how the WA was compensated but also about what services are provided for free and which are at a cost. They do provide a free "retirement review" and explain what is included.

I received a bound "retirement review" document and also an "implemention plan" that included recommended asset allocations for not just my TIAA dollars but for our non-TIAA retirement funds and also our non-retirement funds.

One of the first things I learned was how they pronounce their name: Two syllables: Tea-uh.

So the good things that came out of the process:
1. He did endorse our social security estimate and strategy. At the first visit, he commented that he thought our estimate was high, but by the second meeting he had concurred with our calculations (from AnyPIA) and worked that into all the simulations.

2. Their software came up with surprisingly similar results about our long-term portfolio survival as we got by using the Pralana Retirement Calculator, a somewhat pricey but powerful piece of software that my husband had bought earlier this year. One of the great things about that software is that it allows for a different inflation rate for healthcare from the inflation for other things. TIAA is now using 2.25% inflation in general but 4.25% for healthcare costs. We were glad to have a second opinion.

3. I loved that they treated my husband and myself as an economic unit, which is how we function, even though my husband has no money at TIAA.

4. I finally got a solid handle on my withdrawal options and what is involved with each. I also hadn't realized that my 457 money could be rolled into the TIAA 403b at separation.

The less-helpful bits:
A. Of course the allocations recommended in the Implementation Plan had a million different funds recommended for each portfolio. Okay, not a million, but many more different ingredients than my current 3-part approach. We will not be taking all those recommendations, although we did realize that our stock percentage is a bit low right now and we will make some changes.

B. Every document is very clear that TIAA does not deal at all with tax advice. And we have major questions about whether we would benefit from Roth conversions in the years before social security. That was the one glaring missing piece in the "Retirement Review."

When we finished, he didn't push anything, but gave us the two reports and said that he knew we would probably implement what we wanted to, based on our experience with Vanguard.

However, we do not quite have $400,000 at TIAA yet, so I am not sure if he would have done the AUM pitch to us...we were never told anything about a dollar figure to qualify for the WA service that others have mentioned.

I love the idea of having one person to call, and to put that contact info in the notebook in case I pass away unexpectedly.

Overall, we found it well worth the cost of our time to get everything together and spend 90 minutes in his office.

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