Our History

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Field of crops and trees

One mission. Millions of lives changed.

Andrew Carnegie founded the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association in 1918. Its mission was to provide educators with the retirements they deserved. Through December 31st, 2013, TIAA-CREF had paid participants $4.5 billion in annuity payments and other benefits.1

Today, TIAA-CREF Asset Management manages $611 billion in assets for nearly four million individuals and more than fifteen thousand institutions.2

Date 2015

Energy Star Award 2015

TIAA-CREF earns 8th consecutive ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award

2015 marks the eighth consecutive year that TIAA-CREF has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, having earned the ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award each year since 2008.  The EPA has further recognized TIAA-CREF for its continued achievements with the ENERGY STAR® Sustained Excellence award – the ENERGY STAR® program’s highest honor – for six years running.

TIAA-CREF’s Global Real Estate Sustainability Initiative has helped boost the energy efficiency of the firm’s real estate portfolios by approximately 17.6% since 2007.  The energy saved in 2014 through these efforts is equivalent to $14 million in avoided energy costs and over 47,500 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions saved.

Lipper Fund Awards

2013, 2014, 2015 Lipper Awards: Best Overall Large Fund Company3

For three years in a row, we won the Lipper Award for Best Overall Large Fund Company (compared to 36 fund companies in 2012 and 48 fund companies in 2013 and 2014).

  

 

Date 2014

Nuveen investment

Acquisition of Nuveen Investments

TIAA-CREF acquires Nuveen Investments and creates one of the world’s largest and most diversified financial services organizations.

“The closing of this transaction marks an exciting moment in TIAA-CREF’s 96-year history as a financial services firm committed to making a difference for those who make a difference in the world,” said Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and chief executive officer of TIAA-CREF. “The addition of Nuveen Investments to the TIAA-CREF family further strengthens our position as a leading provider of financial services by enhancing our ability to deliver strong financial performance and serve our clients for the next 100 years.”4

Nuveen Investments provides high-quality investment services designed to help secure the long-term goals of institutional and individual investors as well as the consultants and financial advisors who serve them.

TIAA-CREF named Executive Member of ENERGY STAR® Certification Nation

TIAA-CREF is granted Executive Member status of ENERGY STAR® Certification Nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Launched to celebrate 15 years of Energy Star certifications, this special one-time recognition is awarded to organizations that earned Energy Star certification for at least 50 buildings in 2014.

TIAA-CREF has earned the ENERGY STAR® certification for 578 buildings since 1999; in 2014 alone, we received certifications for 54 buildings, including three multifamily properties, which were among the first in the nation to earn certification in this category.

Energy Star Award 2014

Launch of 2060 Target-Date Funds

TIAA-CREF launches of their Lifecycle 2060 and Lifecycle Index 2060 Funds. These broadly diversified funds are designed to meet the needs of investors who will be retiring within a few years of 2060. They include 11 funds offered in five year increments, as well as a Retirement Income Fund.

"Target-date funds are a simple and effective way for young people now entering the workforce to start saving for retirement," said Randall Lowry, managing director and product manager for the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds. "TIAA-CREF has a long history of helping clients meet their lifelong financial needs and we look forward to helping the new generation of investors reach their goals."

Launch of Emerging Markets Debt Fund

The TIAA-CREF Emerging Markets Debt Fund is an actively managed mutual fund focused on investing broadly in emerging market corporate and sovereign debt. It provides blended exposure to a range of emerging markets fixed-income securities including U.S. dollar and local currency denominated sovereign and corporate bonds.

“With a history of generating attractive risk-adjusted returns, emerging market debt is an attractive tool for portfolio diversification providing non-correlated returns compared to U.S. investment grade credit or high yield in particular” said Katherine Renfrew, lead portfolio manager, TIAA-CREF Emerging Markets Debt Fund.

Close of real estate joint venture with Henderson

TIAA Henderson

TIAA-CREF completes the launch of its real estate joint venture with Henderson Global Investors, one of Europe's largest investment managers. The new real estate investment management company, TIAA Henderson Real Estate, pursues core and value-add investment opportunities in all major sectors of global commercial real estate. It launches with a combined $22.6 billion of assets under management across 50 funds.

Commenting on the venture, Rob Leary, president, TIAA-CREF Asset Management, said "Expanding the scale and scope of our global real estate business, already one of the largest and most diverse real estate investing platforms in the world, strengthens the franchise and helps us continue to meet the needs of sophisticated institutional clients."

Lipper Award 2014

TIAA-CREF wins second consecutive Lipper "Best Overall Large Fund Company" Award5

Latest in a series of performance accolades, TIAA-CREF wins its second consecutive Best Overall Large Fund Company award from Lipper in 2014 (out of 48 peer fund families, based on risk-adjusted performance). The award recognizes our disciplined approach to balancing proven and innovative investment strategies in seeking strong overall fund performance.

Date 2013

Lipper Award 2013

Lipper names TIAA-CREF the 2013 best large fund company

TIAA-CREF is recognized for strong investment performance and asset management expertise. Lipper names TIAA-CREF the 2013 Best Overall Large Fund Company, versus that of 35 other large investment managers, based on risk-adjusted performance for the past three years5, and is placed in the Top 10 for One-year Fund Family performance in the Barron’s/Lipper Fund Family Survey, ranking #10 out of 62 fund families based on one year asset-weighted total returns.6


Farmland

TIAA-CREF and the University of Illinois launch TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research

In March, the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research at the University of Illinois is launched. The center enhances the university’s research and educational initiatives for students and the agricultural community, including investors, farmers, researchers and businesses.

TIAA-CREF and Henderson Global Investors Create New Global Real Estate Investment Management Company

  

  

Date 2012

TIAA-CREF launches farmland company

In May, the organization launches TIAA-CREF Global Agriculture LLC, a global investment company dedicated to investing in global farmland. This innovative vehicle (PDF) is evidence of a new era in institutional investing. Sustainability plays a key role on this investment strategy, and prior to this TIAA-CREF, in concert with a group of institutional investors representing $1.3 trillion in assets, launches the Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland (the “Farmland Principles”) with the goal of improving the sustainability, transparency and accountability of investments in farmland.

Responsible Investment in Farmland (PDF)

Sustained excellence in energy management

By the start of the year, TIAA-CREF achieves its goal to reduce energy intensity by 15 percent within its real estate portfolio. 2012 is a landmark year for TIAA-CREF in achievements toward socially responsible investing.

The TIAA-CREF Global Real Estate Sustainability Initiative (GRESI) is created to identify, evaluate, develop and implement best practices across all portfolio and property types. TIAA-CREF is named ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence for the third consecutive year in recognition of outstanding energy management practices and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Committed to achieving annual property-level energy goals, TIAA-CREF continues to be honored by the EPA, most recently as a 2015 Sustained Excellence award winner.

Energy Star Award 2015

Date 2011

Man building model airplane

Lifestyle asset allocation funds created

TIAA-CREF launches a suite of five Lifestyle asset allocation funds that each targets a distinct level of risk and return. Capitalizing on broad investment capabilities, the underlying TIAA-CREF Funds selected for Lifestyle portfolios are diversified across asset classes, investment styles, and active management approaches.

Lifestyle Funds (PDF)

 

Date 2010

  

Date 2009 

Investing in oil and natural gas

Making its first investment in energy in 2009, TIAA-CREF becomes an active investor in oil and natural gas, recognizing that natural gas is one of the main sources of clean energy, and recently, the fuel of choice for building new power plants.

Energy Infrastructure Investments to Power the Future

A commitment to Responsible Investing

As a signatory to the Principals for Responsible Investment (PRI), TIAA-CREF joins a growing list of investment managers, asset owners and professional service partners around the world who have made a public commitment to adhere to and promote responsible investing.

PRI

The PRI, a global project in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and the U.N. Global Compact, provides a framework for integrating environmental, social and governance issues into investment decision-making and ownership practices, with the goal of enhancing long-term returns for investors.

Endorsing the PRI affirms our values as an organization and underscores our goal of seeking to provide a safe and secure retirement for the individuals who have entrusted their savings to us. Such an approach is an integral part of how TIAA-CREF strives to meet the financial needs of the clients we serve.

Date 2007

Grape Field

Investing in agriculture

The organization makes its first investment in agriculture, focused directly on farmland. TIAA-CREF believes farmland offers a more attractive risk/reward exposure in the production of food and fiber, as compared to listed securities or commodity futures.

Today TIAA-CREF is one of the largest institutional owners of farmland in the world with investments across the United States, Australia, Brazil and Eastern Europe.

Learn more about the benefits of real assets (PDF)

 

  

Date 2006 

Social and Community Investing

Further deepening its commitment to responsible investing, TIAA-CREF creates a Social & Community Investing department. The group is formed to increase Asset Management’s focus on emerging environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics — including management of development, enhancement, and oversight processes for ESG criteria used to establish investment universes for TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible investment products. The same year, the group also begins a $100 million Global Microfinance Investment Program.

Date 2004

Group of people talking

Introducing TIAA-CREF Asset Management

On July 1, TIAA-CREF Asset Management makes its debut as the first new business development stemming from Chairman and CEO Herb Allison's enhanced commitment to providing "best of breed" client services and products.
Asset Management enables the organization to help meet the financial needs of nonprofit organizations, as well as those of new markets such as corporate and public fund defined benefit plans, and sovereign wealth funds.
The new Asset Management arm leverages TIAA-CREF’s:

  • Products, capabilities, and thought leadership
  • Consistent investment process and long-term investment discipline
  • Experienced investment professionals across all asset classes

Also introduced in 2004 are the TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds, a series of broadly-diversified funds uniquely structured with the goal of providing investors with longer than average income during their retirement years. The TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds leverage more than 60 years of asset allocation experience and aim to provide an effective and convenient tool for investors to prepare for and meet their retirement savings objectives.

TIAA-CREF Lifecycle Funds (PDF)

 

Date 2000

Date 1998

Man in Lumber Yard

Investing in timber

TIAA-CREF makes its first investment in timber, focused specifically on acquiring, developing and managing timber assets located in target markets across developed and emerging economies.

 

  

Date 1996

Investing in alternatives

TIAA-CREF makes its first investment in alternatives. A year later, total assets under management topped $200 million, and a retail mutual fund family featuring six funds is introduced.

Date 1995

1995 Real Estate

Direct investing in commercial real estate

The TIAA Real Estate Account is introduced, offering participants a vehicle for direct investment in commercial real estate, an asset class that typically is not widely available to individual investors.

 

Trees

Date 1990

Investing in environmental, social and corporate governance

The CREF Social Choice Account launches, and is one of the industry’s first blended stock/bond variable annuities to incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria into investment decision-making. The CREF Social Choice Account objective is to achieve positive, long-term financial outcomes through investments in public securities that also meet specific ESG criteria — providing investors the opportunity to align their values with investments.

TIAA-CREF achieves another milestone when total assets under management top $100 billion in 1991. As always, the organization continues to look for investments that benefit its participants.

 

  

Date 1986 

Offering participants more choices

TIAA-CREF introduces new products and programs, including the CREF Money Market Account that offers participants a high level of flexibility, and additional variable annuities. The organization’s responsible investing program grows and an affordable housing financing program is introduced in underserved markets nationwide.

In 1986, CREF Stock Account assets pass the $25 billion mark. Today, it is one of the largest U.S. investors in foreign stocks, with $2.8 billion invested in 12 major foreign markets.

Learn more about CREF Stock Account (PDF)

Date 1980

Man pointing at map

Broadening our international investments

TIAA-CREF believes that diversification of investments continues to be one of the best ways to achieve long-term goals like saving for retirement, and has consistently sought out those opportunities. Forward thinking is a key tenet of TIAA-CREF’s asset management philosophy, and a fundamental ingredient in delivering the solid investment outcomes clients have come to expect.

With a minor investment in a Japanese company in 1972, TIAA-CREF continues its pioneering spirit, becoming one of the first companies to use an extensive portfolio of international stocks as part of its investment strategy. Five years later, TIAA-CREF’s international investment program expands with investments in emerging markets.

Learn about our innovative investments

Engaging in responsible corporate citizenship

The concept of social responsibility emerges and TIAA-CREF becomes one of the first institutional investors to engage in dialogue with portfolio companies on the topic. The organization actively encourages companies to pursue responsible corporate citizenship by:

  • Adopting sound governance policies
  • Maintaining ethical business practices
  • Minimizing their environmental footprint
  • Respecting human rights
  • Improving transparency and stakeholder engagement

In 1972, the organization leads the creation of the Investor Responsibility Research Center which provides impartial research on social issues within the scope of social investing.

Learn more about our responsible investing efforts

 

Date 1970

Two men meeting

The CREF Stock Account is created

In the decade leading up to the 1950s, holders of TIAA annuities faced skyrocketing inflation that almost halved the purchasing power of their annuity checks. After studying the problem, TIAA-CREF develops an innovative solution that adds common stocks for retirement savings and income.

In 1952, the world’s first variable annuity, now known as the CREF Stock Account, is introduced. Through a single investment, the CREF Stock Account enables TIAA pension participants to diversify retirement accounts with global equity exposure. For more than 60 years, the CREF Stock Account has helped clients reach long-term retirement savings goals.

Learn about CREF Stock's 60 years of investing history

Date 1950

Old Picture of City

Weathering the depression

From the beginning, TIAA has followed a prudent, long-term approach to investing — a strategy that enabled the organization to weather fluctuating market cycles and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

TIAA originates its first commercial mortgage and 13 years later, the organization begins direct investment in commercial real estate. Assets under management grow from $18.9 million in 1929, to $105 million in 1939. TIAA also begins to seek out other investments that could help fulfill the organization’s mission.

 

1920

Old Check

The first payment

TIAA makes its first annuity income payment of $10.

The Case for Guaranteed Annuities in Defined Contribution Plans (PDF)

1918

Andrew Carnegie

The beginning of TIAA

Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie has a vision for improving retirement security for college professors. Through annuities and low-cost life insurance, he pioneers a system to support the financial well-being of college teachers and establishes TIAA-CREF through his Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Carnegie Foundation.

The organization begins as a fixed income investor, and launches TIAA Traditional , a flagship, guaranteed income product that offers safety, stability — and a guaranteed paycheck through retirement.

Few guaranteed income products have stood the test of time as well as TIAA Traditional, which helps millions save for and enjoy a secure retirement.

TIAA Traditional Annuity: The Foundation for a Safe and Secure Retirement (PDF)

 
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