TIAA-CREF announced a new partnership on Wednesday with the Center for Due Diligence (CFDD) and PlanTools, a web-based risk management and ERISA firm, to help plan sponsors and participants select independent advisors for retirement planning.
The organizations have created a due diligence standard to qualify advisors to participate in the TIAA-CREF Advisor Network and who can work with plan sponsors and their participants. An annual fee paid to the CFDD for managing the program will provide advisors with marketing materials, exclusive plan level arrangements, special training sessions and participation in a new referral program.
According to TIAA-CREF, the program's minimum standards and advisor review will assist plan sponsors in meeting their fiduciary responsibilities. It will also provide participants with access to a pre-screened network of investment advisors who provide participant level advice at an investment advisory fiduciary standard of care.
"Our experience shows that individuals benefit from retirement planning advice and this network offers a nice complement to the advice services we offer through our retirement plans," said Rob Rickey, head of TIAA-CREF’s advisor services, said in a statement. "At the same time, increased focus on plan sponsor's fiduciary responsibilities has led to greater demand for information and support. Our own experience with both individual and institutional clients has confirmed the growing need to support independent advisors."
TIAA-CREF is currently selecting advisors for a controlled launch of the network over the next six months. The group will be the network's charter members and will provide feedback on the minimum standards and process for applying to the network. The plan will be introduced nationally in early 2012.