TIAA-CREF Responds to Customer Struggles

TIAA-CREF responds to customer concerns with a CTO, new Web tools and 48 new employees to process pay-in and pay-out transactions.

TIAA-CREF has acknowledged that the company has had some issues in the past with its services platform accounting for client funds and said it is working to resolve them.


Click here to read more about TIAA-CREF customer complaints.

"Yes, there have been services issues. We have resolved some issues and are making progress on others," said spokesperson Chad Peterson, in New York. "We have been up front with clients about these issues, and update clients regularly, as you can see on our Web site."

TIAA-CREF has established a page on its Web site that discusses the companys IT problems in a question and answer format. For example, in response to the question, "What is causing transaction delays and other service issues?" TIAA-CREF responded:

""The transition itself is complex. We needed to move quickly to the new platform while carefully adhering to hundreds of specific rules in tens of thousands of different retirement plans for about 15,000 institutions. We undertook detailed and careful advance planning for the transition as well as for an ongoing series of enhancements."Overall, the transition has gone as planned and we anticipated and managed a number of potential problems ahead of time. However, the complexity of this undertaking did lend itself to unforeseen issues. In some cases, delays have resulted from the strains placed on our existing processes and staff. In other cases, our tradition of accommodating institutional retirement plan remittances in a variety of formats has, at times, required substantial effort to correct before processing. We have begun working with institutional clients to help ensure the data they remit to us is in a form that will allow for processing without delay.""

Peterson said improving service to institutional and individual clients is the companys top priority. "We are reassigning personnel to speed processing of client transactions, correcting errors and fixing their root causes," he said. Peterson confirmed that the companys chief technology officer, Sue Kozik, is no longer with the company. While sources told eWEEK that Kozik was fired, Peterson said she stepped down voluntarily given that her skills did not match those necessary to fill a new position, that of executive vice president, which combines the role of CTO and head of operations.

TIAA-CREF named Peter Murphy as the acting CTO—the equivalent of the new executive vice president role. "This [position] reflects the next phase of our strategy, which is to further integrate IT and operations to enhance service to our clients," Peterson said.

In addition, according to Peterson, the company is filling out its customer service ranks. "We are adding capacity to our overall customer service initiatives," he said. "We recently opened a third telephone counseling center in Dallas, where we plan to add a hundred new consultants by years end."

As of the week of Aug. 6, TIAA-CREF had hired 48 new employees to process pay-in and pay-out transactions. It has also enhanced its Web site so that clients can complete more transactions online, he said.

"Were fixing the root causes," said Peterson. "We have more work to do, but were making progress."


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