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TIAA brokerage accounts

To see how these worked and what was available, it was necessary for me to open an account. TIAA does make some additional funds (or their institutional share class) available NTF. But there are so many oddities that you must really want something they offer to go through the effort of working with these accounts.

TIAA IRAs are structured as annuities with a brokerage window. So when transferring cash in, it technically goes through the annuity into the brokerage account. More importantly, I believe this means that one cannot transfer assets in or out in kind.

In order to actually have access to the annuity funds (mostly CREF funds), you have to have some relationship with TIAA's employer plans. You might have a 403(b) with them yourself, or you might be related to someone who does. If not, then while you can open the IRA annuity with TIAA, you won't be able to invest on the annuity side.

In order to get a brokerage window, TIAA will "qualify" you. This makes no sense to me. I could understand TIAA "protecting" you from yourself if this were an employer plan, where the employer has liability. But we're talking IRAs here. When one goes to, say Schwab, one opens a brokerage IRA, period. No qualifications.

As part of that qualifying process I had to declare how much (roughly) I expected to put into the IRA and upload a statement showing the outside account from which the assets would be transferred.

It took three days for the brokerage window to be up and running. (I haven't funded the account.)

The short term trading period for NTF funds appears to be six months. On the plus side, the min investment for a fund is $500 unless the fund requires more. The fund screener (not accessible until you have a brokerage window open) won't tell you whether a fund (or share class) is open or closed. You have to do research on your own or call TIAA and ask.

I checked on a couple of popular funds here:

PRWCX - it would have a $1K min in an IRA and $2.5K in a taxable account (same as Fidelity), but of course it is closed. I had to ask.
CQTRX - $500 min (TIAA brokerage min); this has a slightly lower ER than COTZX which is NTF at Vanguard
GLIFX - $500 min in IRA (TIAA brokerage min); NTF


  • Hi @msf
    Are you performing an investment experiment?

    You write reads like the Hotel California Syndrome:

    "Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    "Relax, " said the night man,
    "We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave! "

  • If I had put any money into the account, that's exactly what I'd be afraid of. :-)

    I did have reasons for the experiment. Primarily, to help someone who is gradually transferring money out of a 403(b) at TIAA.

    In the past, the person was able to liquidate some holdings and transfer the cash to a non-annuity TIAA IRA within a day. Next they purchased some ETFs (no commission) to get back into the market. Then they could transfer the holdings in kind to another brokerage. Much less time out of the market than having TIAA send a paper check to a new custodian.

    But TIAA got rid of non-annuity IRAs, and I wanted to see how the annuity/brokerage window worked. Without being "hands on", I couldn't be confident of answers to my questions, or even if I was asking the right questions.

    Secondarily, I was curious to see what funds one could get more cheaply and/or with lower mins through TIAA. There are enough that it would be worth a look if not for the associated pain.
  • You Invest by Chase had a variety of quirks as well. The main attraction to me was 3100 ntf funds that could be sold anytime without incurring early redemption transaction fees. There was no list of funds available before I invested, but when Chase confirmed I could buy PRWBX DODIX and SHSAX ntf, I opened an account. Unfortunately, my brokerage account was locked twice, and I initiated a full account transfer to Fidelity.
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