SEC Charges TIAA Subsidiary for Failing to Act in the Best Interest of Retail Customers

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that registered broker-dealer TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services LLC (TC Services), a subsidiary of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), will pay more than $2.2 million to settle charges that it failed to comply with Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) in connection with recommendations to retail customers to open a TIAA Individual Retirement Account (TIAA IRA).

According to the SEC order, the TIAA IRA allowed retail customers to invest in both a pre-selected “core menu” of affiliated investments, including affiliated mutual funds, and, through the TIAA IRA’s optional “brokerage window,” a broader array of securities, including a variety of mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and bonds. During the relevant period, the brokerage window included the lowest-cost share classes of certain affiliated mutual funds offered in the core menu, but with the investment minimums waived. Due to the waivers, customers could have purchased substantially equivalent, lower-cost share classes of these mutual funds in the brokerage window. The SEC’s order finds that TC Services violated Reg BI by, among other things, failing to disclose both that substantially equivalent, lower-cost share classes of affiliated funds were available in the brokerage window and the conflicts that created.

According to the SEC’s order, more than 94 percent of TIAA IRA customers invested only through the core menu. As a result, nearly 6,000 TC Services retail customers paid more than $900,000 combined in expenses that they could have avoided by purchasing substantially equivalent funds through the brokerage window.

Source: SEC Charges TIAA Subsidiary for Failing to Act in the Best Interest of Retail Customers