September 7, 2012 – TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson addressed elected officials, state delegates and other influentials about the criticality of financial education during a panel discussion hosted by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Roger was on deck to attend the same event at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but it was canceled due to Hurricane Isaac.
The panel, Financial Literacy: Is Your State Part of the Problem – or the Solution?, also featured Dr. June Atkinson, N.C. State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Pamela D. Everhart, Senior Vice President, Fidelity Investments; Nicole Lipp, Garinger High School teacher; and N.C. Senator Josh Stein. John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments, moderated the lively discussion which focused on raising the level of financial literacy in the U.S.
Whose Responsibility is Financial Literacy?
Financial literacy is essential to achieving financial well-being, Roger told those gathered. People who are not financially literate will have a much tougher time preparing for a financially secure retirement in this environment with uncertainty about Social Security and Medicare, and where Americans have more responsibility than ever for planning their retirement.
“Financial literacy should be part of the core curriculum we teach children in school, much like reading and math,” Roger said. “In addition to schools and teachers, parents have a huge role to play; they should engage in regular conversations with their children about money and must be role models for their children.”
According to Roger, businesses – along with schools, families, governments and financial institutions –have a role in promoting financial literacy. Businesses can leverage knowledge and resources to improve financial literacy.
TIAA-CREF has a long-standing commitment to helping people understand their finances and continues to work in support of helping individuals on their path toward achieving financial well-being.
“It’s why we have created educational content, promoted volunteer programs in schools and provided sponsorship dollars to boost financial literacy among Gen Y,” Roger said. “We believe businesses should be creative and devote time and energy to this vital national issue.”
Before the event, Roger noted a tool available to TIAA-CREF participants to promote financial literacy – the TIAA-CREF Financial Personality Quiz. The quiz helps people identify their spending habits and directs them to tools and resources to help achieve financial well-being.
Because of TIAA-CREF’s focus on diversity, Roger was asked about the lack of diversity in the financial industries. Roger stressed that diversity within an organization contributes to better decision making. Diversity is part of our company history and is integral to our future business success, he said.
Our diversity strategy enables TIAA-CREF to reach clients in the marketplace; creates business relationships through procurement/supplier diversity; ensures our employee population is diverse; and creates an inclusive culture that fosters teamwork with emphasis on achieving business results. The company has received recognition for our diversity efforts that include Black Enterprise magazine featuring us as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and Latina STYLE naming TIAA-CREF to the 50 Best Companies for Latinas to Work for in the U.S.
During the luncheon, panelists also related personal anecdotes on how they learned about financial literacy. Roger shared that Andrew Brimmer – the first African-American to serve as a governor of the Federal Reserve System – was a major role model for him. Andrew’s influence, combined with teachings about savings and investing from his father, sparked his interest in finance.