TIAA Has historically been a leader in Socially Responsible Investing. Even prior to the inception of CREF Social choice in March of 1990, TIAA was cognizant of the social decisions made which were demanded by their participants. While I worked at TIAA, I functioned as the investment liaison between fund managers and wealth management advisors. This gave me inside access to fund managers and allowed me to discuss strategies and ask questions. I particularly enjoyed having lunch with Scott Budde, author of Compelling Returns: A Practical Guide to Socially Responsible Investing. He shared his wisdom with me and was a driving factor in TIAA’s interest in SRI at the time. Today, TIAA has an entire suite of socially responsible mutual funds. I will focus on TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund.
TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund
TIAA now offers multiple low-cost socially conscious funds in various asset classes and concerns including domestic stock, international stock, bond, and a low-carbon fund. The foundation of these funds is TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity, ticker symbol TICRX (retail). This large-cap blend fund currently has a very reasonable 0.46% internal expense ratio with traditional social screens. The investment strategy as described on TIAA’s website includes, “…while giving special consideration to certain environmental, social, and governance criteria (“ESG”). The Fund’s evaluation process favors companies with leadership in ESG performance relative to their peers.” TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund has beat the Morningstar Large Blend Average as of September 30, 2018 – year-to-date, 1-year, 3-year, 5-year and 10-year – making the returns solid. Above all, TIAA as a company has a solid track record of making appropriate decisions to reflect the high values demanded by their participants.
Investors looking for a cornerstone large-cap blend socially responsible fund should consider TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity as a great starting point which can be complimented by additional asset classes.