Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Boston, hired TIAA-CREF as bundled provider of its 401(a) plan, confirmed Tim Brennan, treasurer and CFO.
Mr. Brennan said in an interview that TIAA-CREF replaces Fidelity Investments, which has been UUA’s provider for 10 years. TIAA-CREF will begin in the fall and will provide 31 investment options — the same number that are available now, Mr. Brennan said. The association had $178 million in 401(a) assets as of April 30.
Fidelity, which was the other finalist, was dropped because of the association’s “growing commitment … to genocide-free investing,” according to a news release. The board expressed “disappointment in Fidelity’s refusal to consider human rights in their investment choices,” according to the release.
Since early 2007, the association “tried unsuccessfully to persuade Fidelity to divest companies with ties to the Sudanese government,” most notably the Chinese oil companies, PetroChina and Sinopec, the news release said.
“We couldn’t continue to watch passively as money we earned through religious service was directed to companies profiting from a genocidal regime,” the Rev. Peter Morales, president of UUA, said in the news release.
In the news release, Mr. Brennan said TIAA-CREF is “clearly more aligned” with the association’s values and “could deliver outstanding performance, value, and customer service.”
In an e-mail response to questions, Vincent Loporchio, a Fidelity spokesman, wrote, “All Fidelity investors have access to a wide variety of non-proprietary socially responsible and faith-based funds” as well as “a selection of these funds available for our plan sponsors on Fidelity’s workplace investing platform.”
Also, a posting on Fidelity’s website stated, “We are sensitive to the ongoing tragedy occurring in Darfur and, like most others in the world, we are repulsed by genocide and all other crimes against humanity. We also respect the request by some to divest holdings in companies that have any Sudan-related activities as one way to bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese government. … (W)e have concluded that when it is appropriate to remain actively invested in a company, we will do so, thus retaining the ability to oppose company practices that we do not condone. This, in the long term, may have the greatest chance of ending those practices.”