TIAA–CREF (A): A Pension Giant Takes a Hard Look at Serving the Customer

TIAA–CREF (A): A Pension Giant Takes a Hard Look at Serving the Customer

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Abstract

When Herb Allison took the helm at TIAA–CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America–College Retirement Equities Fund) in November 2002, the former President and COO of Merrill Lynch encountered an organization focused on its primary product, the largest private pension fund in the United States. Founded as TIAA in 1918 to help academics avoid poverty after retirement, TIAA–CREF had grown to a Fortune 100 company, managing over $260 billion in assets for 3.2 million participants. However, for a company with so many assets and so many individual customers, TIAA–CREF was not well known. It had limited direct contact with its customers. Allison observed, “It was like a big factory with a tiny store in front.”

TIAA-CREF's “storefront” had become increasingly important with the sweeping changes ...

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