Your Dec. 25, Page 1, article about the Connecticut alternative retirement program director's agitation at being unable to unilaterally move en masse individuals' retirement savings from their TIAA-CREF annuity contracts to the plan's new provider suggests that we told Connecticut such a move was possible, only to renege later.
At all times, however, we conveyed our position clearly and unambiguously: TIAA and CREF must honor the obligations written into our contracts, which, in this case, give individual plan participants the exclusive right to decide whether to move their money. These provisions assure participants their retirement savings won't be moved absent their consent, and reflect TIAA-CREF's non-profit heritage, "AAA" ratings, and mission to help meet the financial needs of people who work in the academic and non-profit communities.
None of this should come as a surprise to the director. We discussed the issue with him as early as March 2005 and on two occasions that year sent him legal opinions which carefully analyzed the issue. Other insurance companies offer contracts within retirement plans that contain similar provisions; like these companies, we also offer plan sponsors contracts that have no such provisions. Connecticut's decision to use these mechanisms was its own. The former administrator reviewed the contracts and decided they could help achieve the objectives of the state's plan.
While the present director has every right to change providers, it should not be at the expense of educators and others in Connecticut who have relied on these contracts for nearly 40 years to help save for a financially secure retirement.
vice president, corporate communications