Retire Richer with TIAA-CREF

Article excerpt

Retire Richer with TIAA-CREF, by Robert M. Soldofsky (Useful Press, 1996).

Despite the cliche title, Retire Richer provides a very comprehensive overview of the TIAA-CREF retirement system. The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund is the oldest nationwide retirement system for higher education and nonprofit organizations. Most university and college professors in the United States are members of the TIAA-CREF pension plan. Therefore, this book should be of special interest to the academic audience of the Journal of Risk and Insurance.

Retire Richer is written in an informal and folksy format with many references to the author's experience in financial counseling seminars. The book contains 12 chapters which take readers through the different investment stages of the human life cycle as it pertains to general retirement planning. Indeed, the subtitle of the book, "Applicable To All 403(B) and 401(K) Retirement Plans," could just as easily apply to any universal pension plan.

Each chapter begins with a list of relevant and interesting questions that form the agenda for the subsequent sections. The answers to these questions are summarized at the end of the chapter, making it easy on readers who are interested in using the book simply as a reference or instruction manual for their pension plan. Retire Richer is lavish in numerical examples, tables, and charts, most of which were provided by TIAA-CREF as part of their quarterly publication entitled "Research Dialogues" (an excellent collection in it's own right).

The first few chapters illustrate the basic concepts of asset allocation, financial markets, and the economic environment. The author then describes the two basic asset classes within the TIAA-CREF family, namely the fixed income side (TIAA) and the equities side (CREF). Retire Richer provides a detailed performance history of the funds, their risk-return characteristics, and many other relevant facts. …