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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TIAA-CREF Opens Up

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Hold onto your assets. TIAA-CREF is planning to open its IRA account to non-proprietary investments in December and is hoping that the platform will allow it to take accounts from its rivals.

The New York City-based asset manager offers IRAs to investors who are former employees of academic, medical and cultural institutions that offer its retirement services. Its IRA business covers more than 250,000 investors with $11 billion in assets.

Ray Bellucci, TIAA-CREF IRA product manager, said that the firm is responding to clients who have asked for a "greater range of investment alternatives" for their IRA account.

Today, those investors are limited to the core TIAA-CREF investments in their IRA. That will change in December when the firm opens a self-directed brokerage option through which investors will be able to purchase any one of 6,500 mutual funds as well as exchange listed stocks and bonds. TIAA-CREF will also add its nine lifecycle funds to the platform at that time.

Bellucci added that TIAA-CREF will encourage investors to roll funds they now hold outside of TIAA-CREF onto the new platform. TIAA-CREF will also use the new platform to offer an expanded Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA for the first time.

"IRAs give people a great way to add to and consolidate their retirement savings and now TIAA-CREF investors can consolidate their retirement savings with us while retaining the investment choices they want," Bellucci said.

The new Open Plan Solutions administrative platform will open in December. IRA holders will be able to research funds using the brokerage Web site and purchase funds through a "Fund Central" section of the site.  

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