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TIAA Investments customer reviews, complaints, ratings, brokerage service pros and cons. Is TIAA Brokerage safe and good investment company to open an account?

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TIAA Brokerage Customer Reviews

by A long time user, 4/4/2019

Pros: At lease they tried hard to help...........

Cons: But by the end, nothing was achieved.

The system setup is really bad, no one in the right mind could figure it out.

by Donna, 3/28/2019

Pros: They are polite. That’s all.

Cons: Incompetent.

I have never dealt with any company as incompetent as TIAA. For 6 months I have been trying to establish my account by GIVING them my money, based on the good experience my spouse has had with them. Now today we discovered that my husband’ monthly withdrawal was not been completed, so today will consist of phone calls, emails, excuses and apologies, and most probably nothing will be resolved. Vanguard, anyone?

by Tom, 1/23/2019

Pros: None that I can tell after ~3 years with them.

Cons: Took me 12 days to move money from my bank account into the brokerage account.

I have had several problems with them. Always polite on the phone, but never inform me if the problem has been corrected. Instead I need to check my account daily to determine if the problem has been corrected. I think I made a mistake by opening this account with TIAA. I should have gone with someone else. In fact, although I've seen many people complain about moving their money away from TIAA, I think that is the route I'm going to go even if it cost me ~$125 to close the IRA. I've complained to the people I talk to on the phone, but don't ever get any feedback as to whether someone is really listening.

by Liza B, 1/18/2019


Cons: Terrible service

Like Kim (earlier review), I have been trying to move my funds away from TIAA brokerage. I have experienced everything Kim describes, but for going on seven weeks. I suggest you contact compliance. Since doing that earlier this week, I think (not convinced) movement will occur next week. Keep plugging. It is important to get your money away. Go to Ally (I am not associated in any way with Ally).

by Brent Eastty, 11/3/2018


Cons: Brokers are either extremely poor money managers, con-artists, or both

I funded a 5-year "World Markets Portfolio" that was a product heavily promoted by EverBank. About a year into it, after receiving very little substantial account performance info, I realized it was a dubious investment that relied on unsuspecting depositors. The crafted an unclear termsheet instead of an offering memorandum filed with the SEC as is required by the Securities Act of 1933. Nevertheless, I hung in there for the 5 years, paying the annual estimated federal tax that the product reported. I assumed it would result in a minimal return of 1% or 2%. Nothing. There was no return.

A product that does nothing but provide an interest-free loan to TIAA is a bad investment. Shame on TIAA and the douchey brokers who called me up the morning it matured to pass the buck and close the account as quickly as possible without disclosing the actual return amount or offering an explanation of performance.

by Rich Kallan, 11/2/2018

Pros: They apologize everytime they lose you money.

Cons: They are not very good at what they do.

Dreadful money managers. Do NOT be pressured to move any of your TIAA-CREF money into their actively managed brokerage accounts. If you do, you will forever be sorry. The fund managers consistently underperform every stock index, while charging fees for their incompetence. Even in a bull market, they produce less-than-stellar results. They give a lot of explanations for why your account isn't doing well--none of which ever includes their bad buying and selling decisions. Some--not all--of their individual financial advisors can be quite helpful, but they're not the ones managing the brokerage funds. I have lost thousands compared to what nearly everyone else was earning who left their money in a CREF account..

by Paul, 10/25/2018


Cons: Slow

Makes transfers out impossibly slow. Very old-fashioned, paper-laden. Not electronic for teacher funds. Not the TIAA we onbce knew, as others are saying.

by George Sander, 5/30/2018


Cons: Lost my account

Account was transferred from EverTrade but was never told how to login to new TIAA account. Rep put me on hold for 20 min while he looked for my account. Had no idea where my cash balance was. Couldn't even tell me the URL to login to TIAA act.

by Kim, 5/24/2018



I was a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno the past 17 years. I recently moved to Denver, CO and have tried tried to rollover my Retirement Plan from TIAA-Cref to a local financial expert. I have continually worked with a local financial advisor the past 2 weeks to transfer my TIAA investments. TIAA has continuously put up roadblocks in transferring my funds!!! I and my financial advisor have talked to 5 different TIAA employees over the past 2 weeks to get this resolved. Experienced misinformation, unprofessionalism, strong-arming, and stall-tactics throughout this entire process. It is still not resolved. TIAA is slow-moving, gave wrong information about faxing the rollover forms, then requiring hardcopy be snail-mailed, then requiring phone confirmations several times by myself as the account holder. Continuous run-around!!!!! Truly unbelievable from an institution such as TIAA-CREF. They have made this roll-over process very difficult, convoluted, and frustrating!!!!


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What should I expect?

Picture this- it’s late 2009, you’re taking odd jobs to pay the bills, and by one way or another you end up owing the Federal government come tax time. And you owe them big. But you’re smart, and rather than just cut a check to the IRS, you find an ingenious way to pay your taxes while putting a little something towards your retirement.

It’s not a well-kept secret that IRA and 401(k) investments can save you a bundle on tax filing day. Filing status, adjusted gross income, and your company retirement plan all play a factor in the regular contribution limit, and the tax credit received from that. But what kind of return can you expect? Here, we examine a modest FBO IRA started in the free-fall of 2010, and see how it has performed since.

This FBO IRA (For Benefit Of Individual Retirement Account) was started out of necessity. Created in 2010, the account was started with $5000 in a (then) TIAA-CREF Brokerage account and was invested entirely into money markets. This means that mutual funds, cash, and cash equivalents were all part of this tax-sheltered portfolio. This person to whom this account belongs to, being single, below the income threshold, and without a retirement plan at work in 2010, was allowed the tax deduction in full (meaning it was a straight dollar-to-dollar deduction). This is key difference from Roth IRAs that, while sporting many advantages, don’t allow deductions on your contributions.

How do you rate your return on investment? For this particular account, it is easier than most. The initial deposit has never been followed with additional deposits or withdrawals, giving us a perfect snapshot of money market accounts while letting us see exactly how much growth we can expect out of a TIAA managed FBO IRA over a six-year period.

The first thing we have to look at is the type of investment, as this particular plan involves personal direction to your broker (called a “Self Directed IRA”). The Account Investment Objective is straightforward: Growth. The major issue here is that an investment approach where the investor seeks capital appreciation through the buying and holding securities for an extensive period rarely yields high gains over the near term in the current market. Add the fact that this is an insured account and you can already see the limits of this particular brokerage. But how limited is it?

Over the first year, between interest accredited and said liquid reinvested, a gain of $2.75 was seen (00.06% on the initial deposit over the first year). This is bad to the layman, but somewhat understandable with the world in economic free fall and an investment plan that values accruing wealth over the long term.

When April 2012 came around, the account was showing a present value of $5003.23, good for a gain of 48 cents on the year. This “gain” on an insured long-term investment portfolio represents a 00.0001% increase in value which, when compared to the 1.7% USD inflation rate seen across 2012, hurts. Partially eaten Twinkies appreciate faster in certain markets. The owner is loosing money. But we all know that when planning for something like retirement years down the road, you cannot have knee-jerk emotional reactions. 2013 was a great year for the stock market, and things have continued to get better. So where are we now?

As it stands now, this TIAA portfolio stands at $5007.74, with a majority of that increase in value coming between 5/31/15 and 7/31/16. In layman’s terms, it took 5 years to make $5, and then 14 months to make $3. Since 2014, inflation has hovered around 0.8%-1.0%, making this 0.0009% “gain” in actuality a loss when compared to inflation. So the question becomes “is an IRA FBO managed by TIAA and committed to money markets worth my time?”

Firstly, it’s important to realize that an insured investment in a money market won’t give you the type of returns you see in common stock. Depending on the cycle, you are ideally targeting a 2-3% return in an account of this type versus an 8-10% return playing common stock over the long haul.

Secondly we have to consider inflation, which since this particular account was started, it has varied wildly. Inflation spiked at 2.7% and 3.0% in 2009 and 2011 respectively, before bottoming out at 0.7% in 2015. So for a majority of this time, the purchasing power of this account has diminished despite the fact that the account was steadily increasing as small amounts of interest rolled over.

Thirdly, we must consider the reason the account was started- out of necessity. This FBO IRA provided a straight dollar-to-dollar tax deduction that allowed for the owner to put money into retirement instead of cutting a check to the IRS. Uncle Sam gets to tax the account when it is cashed years from now and will supposedly be worth more- in theory everyone wins. Between the two options, it will always be better to put money into an account of this type (if you meet the qualifications) rather than paying out to the IRS. Under this premise, the account sports an advantage that favors the FBO IRA set in money markets- the money may slowly depreciate, but is still in your portfolio

Lastly, we have to compare the growth of the TIAA account to the field. Money market funds are currently hovering around 0.1%, which is a far cry from the 4.5% return you could expect in 2007. This means that the account is not performing as expected in the already struggling market.

Future Prospects

TIAA may not be the way to go if you are interested in building wealth in money markets, but that was never the primary focus of the account holder. From 2009 to 2011, the yield on money markets dropped from 2.27% to 0.02%, and $1.1 trillion dollars walked away from the field entirely. It is certainly a portion of the financial industry that is in trouble. Still, if you qualify for the tax write-off, and you can get an account without fees (like this one), an FBO IRA is a valuable, viable, and legal way to transfer a portion of would be Federal taxes into retirement.

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TIAA Brokerage reviewed by former and current clients. TIAA Brokerage customer reviews: 9. Rating: 2.