CU moves to improve employee retirement plans

Workshops to assist UCCS faculty and staff transition university retirement accounts to TIAA-CREF are scheduled for March 16 and again on April 9.

On March 16 at 10:30 a.m., noon, and 1:30 p.m. in the University Center Theater, representatives of CU’s Office of Employment Services will host one-hour sessions to explain the university’s transition to a single retirement plan provider and how the decision affects individual faculty and staff members. These workshops will be repeated on April 9 for those who cannot attend the March 16 workshops. Registration is not required.

Among the workshop topics is the process used to make the change, actions that employees must take by July 1 to select new retirement funds, transfer accounts to TIAA-CREF, the sole record keeper and details about how TIAA-CREF will provide record keeping as well as personal financial planning advice.

On March 2, CU and TIAA-CREF publically announced the new agreement for employees who use CU’s 401(a) and 403(b) retirement plans. Generally, employees who do not participate in the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association are covered by 401(a) or 403(b) plans.

In making a sole-provider agreement with TIAA-CREF, CU eliminated seven other retirement plan vendors and more than 800 fund choices. By simplifying, CU will reduce costs. That means more money in the accounts of employees, according Tom Zwirlein, professor, College of Business. Zwirlein was a member of the Retirement Vendor Review committee that evaluated the proposal to move to a sole record keeper.

“We think having more choices makes us happy,” Zwirlein said. “But research shows that when it comes to investments, too many choices overwhelms us and can be paralyzing.  I fully support the university’s decision to use a single, well-known company to serve as the plan administrator and to offer a broad, but finite, number of investment choices. I strongly encourage all affected employees to attend one of the workshops in March or April. The new mutual fund choices are well organized by investment style and easy to comprehend. The lower expense fees mean more of your retirement dollars go to work immediately. An additional benefit in the new contract is that TIAA-CREF will be hiring a number of dedicated financial advisers who will provide free financial advice on each campus.”

The new plan will offer employees core investment and target date mutual fund choices from a variety of well known mutual fund companies as well as a brokerage window for those who wish additional options. TIAA-CREF will be the sole record keeper for CU’s plans which cover $3.3 billion in assets for more than 12,600 employees. CU employees will have access to financial consultants who will provide personalized retirement advice tailored to individual goals and years until retirement.

Contribution rates, and other plan details, are unchanged.

TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organization with $851 billion in assets under management. It is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research and cultural fields.

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