TIAA subpoenaed over sales practices

Whistleblowers cited in Times article say the pension giant pressured reps to push expensive managed accounts

Nov 10, 2017 @ 11:53 am

By InvestmentNews

The New York attorney general has subpoenaed insurance and pension giant TIAA, seeking information on its sales practices in the wake of a recent story in the New York Times.

The TIAA practices drawing scrutiny also are the subject of a whistleblower complaint filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a new Times story. That complaint was filed by former TIAA employees, who contend they were pressured to sell products that generated more revenue for the firm, but were costlier to clients, while adding little value.

TIAA, which looks after retirement accounts for more than four million people working at 15,000 nonprofit institutions in the U.S., oversees client assets of nearly $1 trillion.

In the Times story, two of the current and former employees the newspaper spoke with said that TIAA had a saying about creating fear among clients to generate sales: "If they cry, they buy."

The SEC whistleblower complaint contends that in 2011 TIAA began trying to convert "unsuspecting retirement plan clients from low-fee, self-managed accounts to TIAA-CREF-managed accounts" that were more expensive, the Times said. According to the complaint, advisers were pushed to sell proprietary mutual funds to clients as well.

"In more than 10 years at TIAA, I have never heard such language, which is certainly not in keeping with our values or approved materials," TIAA spokesman Chad Peterson told InvestmentNews in an emailed response acknowledging receipt of the subpoena.

"We are undertaking an internal review regarding this matter to ensure all of our training materials are aligned with our mission, values, policies and procedures," Peterson wrote. "TIAA focuses exclusively on meeting our clients' long-term financial needs. We always put our clients first and operate in a highly transparent and ethical way."


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Featured video


Why some retirement plan advisers think Fidelity is invading their turf

InvestmentNews editor Frederick P. Gabriel Jr. and reporter Greg Iacurci talk about this week's cover story that looks at whether Fidelity Investments is stepping on the toes of retirement plan advisers.

Latest news & opinion

Speculation mounts on whether others will follow UBS' latest move to prevent brokers from leaving

UBS brokers must sign a 12-month non-solicit agreement if they want their 2017 bonuses.

Maryland jumps into fiduciary fray with legislation requiring brokers to act in best interests of clients

Legislation requires brokers to act in the best interests of clients.

8 apps advisers love for getting stuff done

Smartphone apps that advisers are using in 2018 to run their business more efficiently.

Galvin's DOL fiduciary rule enforcement triggers industry plea for court decision

Plaintiffs warned the Fifth Circuit that Massachusetts' move against Scottrade signaled that the partially implemented regulation can raise costs for financial firms.

Social Security underpaid 82% of dually entitled widows and widowers

Agency failed to tell survivors that they could switch to a higher retirement benefit later.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print