TIAA-CREF Gets Canned

Over the weekend, I was reading up on 403(b) plans (yes, I lead a very exciting life) when I ran across an interesting bit of news on TIAA-CREF. It seems that the University of Minnesota has dropped TIAA-CREF as a retirement savings option, saying that:

The University must require that vendors of retirement plan-related recordkeeping services demonstrate acceptable levels of timeliness and accuracy. This decision was made after years of feedback from participants about recordkeeping and customer service problems and reflects the growing concerns of several faculty and staff committees, as well as the administration, that the problems were not being addressed effectively.

I’m not sure what sort of problems they were having, but I know that I’ve had problems with TIAA-CREF in the past when it comes to timeliness.

Regardless of the underlying reasoning, this is a very high profile loss TIAA-CREF. In fact, based on this past year’s enrollment numbers, the University of Minnesota is the 4th largest University in the country. Approximately 3, 000 of their faculty and staff members had selected TIAA-CREF as their retirement vendor, and these individuals had a total of $500 million invested there. While they don’t necessarily have to close their accounts, the University won’t be allowing future contributions to go to TIAA-CREF.

8 Responses to “TIAA-CREF Gets Canned”

  1. Anonymous

    Hello everyone. I am a Customer Resolution Manager for TIAA-CREF so I get to see how the company handles each customer issue on a daily basis. Word of advice, if you want something done through TIAA stop calling the phone center and instead write a letter or send an email to:
    c/o Office of the Corporate Secretary
    730 Third Avenue
    New York, NY 10017-3206
    [email protected]
    TIAA-CREF if regulated by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and is required to responded to written complaints and if they don�t it cost them money as they are audited frequently.
    Trust me, for anyone having problems with the company for any reason the advice above is golden. If you want to take it one step further and ensure your issue is expedited also contact SEC at They will give you a case number and pass this along to TIAA-CREF.
    I give this information because I truly feel for some of the people who have problems with the company and this is why I choose to work in the issue resolution field. Unfortunately, I have seen firsthand how the company only values clients concerns when the client has a value of $500,000 or is considered what they call a wealth management client.

  2. Anonymous

    Gee, it looks I’m late coming to this party. In June I requested all my accounts be annuitized. In July I received partial payment. After many phone calls and promises without results, we wrote to the President/CEO explaining that we would be in Charlotte on a certain date and would be hosting a “media event” to highlight the problems we were experiencing. It is now October and I finally received payment for the remainder. OK, it looks like everything is taken care of, right… Five days later the deposits were reversed (without notice). I have been waiting for a response since Monday the 15th. Looks like we need to go back to Charlotte!!!

  3. Anonymous

    Five times in the past year TIAA CREF has included sentences like the following on statements and web screens: Sorry, but the calculations on funds X & Y are wrong and won’t be fixed for a week, we’re sorry but you can’t access this part of your portfolio, we’re sorry but we are going to be a month late in posting the quarterly balances, etc.

    Here’s what gripes me. Apparently NC complained and got more funds to choose from, including some Price and other funds. Why can’t the rest of us get wider choice? TC’s choices are so limited.

    And what ohter vendor makes you wait 10 years to shift $ from the fixed account to the stock accounts?

  4. Anonymous

    TIAA-Cref has had problems for years, usually performance issues (returns). As an advisor they are very very hard to work with. There are better homes for your money. Mikey, Certified Networked Advisor (CNA)

  5. Anonymous

    My mother is not investment savvy and I aided her in setting up a 403b through her university employer last December. TIAA Cref & Fidelity were the two out of list of 5 or six that I considered. I called Cref first, waited on hold for 15-20 minutes, and spoke with a rep who was both rude and uninformed regarding the fee structure of the account. My mother’s employer didn’t need to drop Cref; Cref dropped themselves in my eyes. I opened the account with Fidelity, but I would prefer Vanguard if it were available.

  6. Anonymous

    When the Great Desert University got Vanguard, I switched from TIAA-CREF, partly because VG doesn’t pitch annuities and partly because, despite a broadly diversified choice of investments, for several quarters running TIAA-CREF actually lost more money than the university and I combined were contributing. Though the market was down & so I wasn’t making any money in non-employer-related funds at Vanguard and Fidelity, at least those weren’t losing to that extent.

    Getting them to send statements wasn’t easy, either.

    GDU dumped Vanguard within a year, but Fidelity remained available, so that’s where my contributions go now.

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