Surely all the returns are in now that TIAA-CREF has weighed in on the side of the financial advisor “movement.”
Of late, the giant financial services organization and pension system has been taking its first tentative steps in the direction of the planners, attorneys, accountants and other fee-based and fee-only financial intermediaries who serve its own customers.
The steps may be early and tentative, but this evolving “outreach” to advisors marks a major strategic departure for an 83-year-old company that has traditionally worked not from the outside in, but from the inside out–selling and servicing its products directly, through salaried CSRs (or “consultants,” as it prefers to call them).
As Dennis Foley explains it, the new strategy was fueled by some eye-opening research that showed significant numbers (25%-30%) of TIAA-CREF clients seek the help of financial intermediaries.
“That clued us in that this was a segment that was going to grow in prominence over time,” says Foley, who is vice president for annuities and mutual funds.
And no wonder, he says, when you consider the proliferation of complex savings, investing and insurance products that are out there. “It’s all very confusing,” he says, “bewildering to both the advisor and the consumer.”
According to Foley, TIAA-CREF aims first to interest targeted advisors in its products, then educate them in how best to use them–the latter on the theory that many of these products, depending on the advisor’s specialty, are likely to be unfamiliar.
The lure, says Foley, is products that are high in quality and low in cost (TIAA-CREF is a not-for-profit organization) and the payoff, the company hopes, is increased share of existing customers and access to the advisors’ other clients.
It’s spreading the news in various ways: