TIAA-CREF Adds International Equity Investments to CREF Social Choice Account
Becomes the Largest Fund of Screened Global Assets for Individual Investors.
New York.-TIAA-CREF, the national financial services organization and leading provider of retirement services in the academic, medical and cultural fields, today announced the addition of international equity investments to its CREF Social Choice variable annuity account (the “Account”). In conjunction with the change in portfolio composition, the Account’s composite benchmark will change to include the MSCI EAFE® + Canada, alongside the Russell 3000® and Lehman Brothers U.S. Aggregate indices
Inclusion of non-domestic companies in the CREF Social Choice Account will offer investors looking for global investment opportunities that align with their values a socially screened investment vehicle that screens portfolio companies’ environmental stewardship, human and labor rights practices, production safety standards, governance and ethics.
“Investor demand for socially responsible investments continues to increase, and as such we remain committed to creating and enhancing opportunities for interested clients to align their values with their investments,” said Scott Budde, Managing Director and Head of Global Social & Community Investing, TIAA-CREF. “We are pleased that, with the increasing amount of information regarding the environmental, social and governance actions of companies around the globe, we can further diversify the CREF Social Choice Account to include international investments that also meet the requirements of our comprehensive screening process.”
Under the new benchmark, the Account will expand the universe of stocks in which it can invest beyond those in the KLD Broad Market SocialSM Index (BMSI) to also include the recently launched KLD Global SustainabilitySM Index Ex-US (GSIXUS). The research process evaluates a company’s sustainability performance by analyzing its relative strength in environmental stewardship; serving local communities and society overall; commitment to high labor standards throughout the supply chain; production of safe, high-quality products; and governance and ethics. TIAA-CREF’s Quantitative Equity Portfolio Management team will continue to optimize the resulting investment universe to best mirror the sector weightings of the Account’s mainstream benchmark indices
“A diversified portfolio including both domestic and international equities, along with a transparent and broad market benchmark is important to helping individual’s meet their financial needs ahead of and during retirement,” added Scott Evans, Executive Vice President and Head of Asset Management, TIAA-CREF. “We are pleased to increase the diversification of the CREF Social Choice account to better meet the broad needs of our clients looking for a comprehensively screened investment option.”
With approximately $9.2 billion in net assets as of December 31, 2007, CREF Social Choice is the largest socially screened portfolio in the United States and the largest socially-screened global portfolio with over 430,000 individual investors. The Account is a balanced portfolio with an overall target asset allocation of 60 percent equity securities and 40 percent fixed income securities, including a two percent target for proactive social and community investments within the fixed-income portfolio. The new international equity investments, which are expected to be added gradually throughout March 2008, will total approximately 13 percent of the Account’s total assets.
“We are delighted TIAA-CREF will be the first to offer the GSIXUS to investors,” said Peter D. Kinder, President of KLD. “The GSIXUS is the product of KLD’s long-standing collaboration with a global network of social investment research firms. Together, they bring regional company expertise and a global perspective to the research underlying the index. The rigorous sustainability standards applied to the index yield a broad representation of top environmental, social and governance performing companies across all sectors in Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific.”
The CREF Social Choice Account is available to investors through TIAA-CREF’s employer-sponsored retirement plans or through TIAA-CREF IRAs and variable life policies.
TIAA-CREF’s Social & Community Investing department was created in May 2006 to focus on a series of investment programs and oversee the screening methodology used by the CREF Social Choice and the TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Funds. Other recent advancements in the social and community investing program include:
* The addition of a two percent target allocation to proactive social investments within the fixed income portion of the CREF Social Choice account, based on the Account’s total net assets (July 2007).
* Participation in the Phoenix Realty Group’s (PRG) urban fund capitalization as part of TIAA-CREF’s Global Social Real Estate program. The urban fund will be deployed to create $3.5 billion in market-rate rental and for-sale housing, mixed-use properties, and commercial developments in urban and infill areas nationwide (January 2008).
* Participation in a $125 million private funding of Catalyst Microfinance Investors (CMI), marking the largest collective equity capital commitment to microfinance ever and TIAA-CREF’s second investment within its $100 million Global Microfinance Investment Program (GMIP), created to invest in select Microfinance Institutions (MFI’s) worldwide (February 2008).
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