Advantages of TIAA-CREF's recent acquisition of Nuveen Investments are expanded distribution and increased diversification amid a trend of consolidation in fund servicing.

Perhaps less obviously, however, the acquisition also raises questions about marketing, branding and cultural identity.

"Fund managers will want to know what will happen to the firms' cultures," says former NAPFA chair Tom Orecchio, principal at Modera Wealth Management in Westwood, N.J. "Will Nuveen be able to keep its culture? Which firms' culture will prevail? I think providers will also want to know how TIAA-CREF will be handling branding. Will they keep it as Nuveen? Will it be re-branded? Is Nuveen's municipal expertise complimentary to TIAA-CREF's existing line of products?"

As of now, however, the plan is to keep Nuveen as a separate entity overall. Nuveen will operate as a separate subsidiary within TIAA-CREF's asset management business. John Amboian will remain CEO of Nuveen, and the rest of the company's leadership will stay in place as well.

"Nuveen has created a brand in the closed-end fund world and it wouldn't make sense to eliminate that brand," says Morningstar's Steven Pikelny.

But as industry consultant Geoffrey Bobroff explains in one of the main stories of this issue, maintaining separate brands can lead to financial and cultural consequences, such as lost leverage that might come with not having a common identity and a single marketing effort. "This may be where they see a real cultural challenge - there are some organizations that try to maintain multiple brands but it is expensive and they finally need to throw in the towel and move to a single brand," Bobroff explains.

What do you think?

With consolidation in the mutual fund world, when are disparate brands through subsidiaries essential and when does it detract from marketing efficiency and branding?

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