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TIAA Is Paying $97 Million to Settle Claims It Pushed Customers Into More Expensive Accounts

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Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America agreed to pay $97 million to settle U.S. and New York investigations alleging that the money manager misled customers and pushed them to move their money into more-expensive accounts.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James said they found that financial advisers at TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services Inc., a TIAA unit, had pressured tens of thousands of clients to shift their investments into managed accounts from their employer-sponsored retirement plans such as a 403(b). Those individual accounts were “significantly more expensive for clients and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for TIAA,” the New York Attorney General’s Office wrote in a statement.

In resolving the federal and state investigations, TIAA neither admitted nor denied the allegations. The money manager will pay the $97 million to investors affected by its actions.

“We cooperated with regulators, and we’re pleased to settle this matter that covers a time period that ended more than three years ago,” TIAA said. “We regret the times that we did not live up to our clients’ expectations of us.”

TIAA also agreed to make “significant internal reforms,” including eliminating differences in the way employees are compensated for selling specific products and making their pay policies more transparent.

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