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Monday, February 22, 2016

CREF-Less

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

An $854-billion-AUM asset manager's name is getting shorter.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.
TIAA
President, Chief Executive Officer
This morning TIAA-CREF [profile] president and CEO Roger Ferguson confirms that the New York City-based retirement plan provider and parent of Nuveen [profile] is rebranding as simply TIAA. Up next is a national marketing and advertising campaign (the ads start on February 29, one week from today) and a new website, TIAA.org. And more branding changes are coming specifically on the asset management side of TIAA.

Connie Weaver, chief marketing officer at TIAA, tells MFWire that "this is so much more than a name change" for the 98-year-old company, which is focused on providing 403(b) retirement savings plan and other financial services to colleges and universities and their employees. Firstborn, Frog, the Martin Agency, and Weber Shandwick are marketing partners on the rebranding.

Rob Leary
TIAA
Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management
"The name is just one small component under changing the experience, changing the game," Weaver says.

Stay tuned for TIAA to introduce a new brand, TIAA Global Asset Management, above Nuveen, TIAA Investments, and other asset management affiliates. Weaver says those changes "are coming right behind this" and reflect the growing importance of asset management at TIAA.

"You're going to see that evolve," Weaver says. "10 years ago, asset management was much more of a steward for the retirement fund. Today it's so, so much broader."

Connie K. Weaver
TIAA
Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
As for the overall name change and experience upgrade, Weaver says, the process "started about five years ago ... [with] a lot of behavioral research" into "really understanding the barriers for people to get completely involved in their financial planning."

"It became really clear to us that simplicity and a new experience were paramount," Weaver says. "This is all about human behavior." 

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