Once the gold standard for fund governance, TIAA-CREF no longer deserves its designation as the industry's shareholder-friendliest firm, according to Christopher Davis, an analyst with Morningstar in Chicago.Davis cites the organization's recent management fee hike. After getting a no-vote from shareholders last fall, TIAA-CREF decided to poll them again in January to get it pushed through. "While we once regarded [their] culture as one of the fund industry's best, that's no longer the case," Davis said.
What went wrong? Davis points to the hiring in 2002 of former Merrill Lynch CEO Herb Allison as its new chief executive. It was thought that Allison's grooming as an executive of one of Wall Street's most powerful investment banks wouldn't fit with TIAA-CREF, a not-for-profit money manager for school teachers.