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When it comes to investing, your occupation often qualifies you for some unique opportunities. In the case of teachers, researchers and people in cultural and medical fields, TIAA-CREF (now TIAA) has long been their primary investment solution. Let’s compare it to a more conventional broker like Fidelity to see how it stacks up.
- 1 Features, Fees & Ratings Comparison Table
- 2 TIAA-CREF vs. Fidelity
- 3 Pros
- 4 Cons
- 5 Pros
- 6 Cons
- 7 Features & Primary Uses
- 8 A Comparison of TIAA-CREF and Fidelity in Retirement and IRA Accounts
- 9 TIAA and Fidelity focusing specifically on their 403(b) plans
- 10 Investment Options
- 11 Fees
- 12 Asset Allocation
- 13 Which Should You Pick? Who Is Each Good For?
- 14 Conclusion
- 15 FAQ
Features, Fees & Ratings Comparison Table
|💰 Account Minimum||No minimums for IRA accounts; $2,000 for brokerage accounts||No minimums for IRA accounts; $0 for brokerage accounts|
|💸 Commission Fees||$0 for online equity, ETF, and options trades; $25 for broker-assisted trades||$0 for online equity, ETF, and options trades; $32.95 for broker-assisted trades|
|💼 Investment Options||Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, annuities, and managed portfolios||Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, annuities, and managed portfolios|
|🤖 Robo-Advisor||TIAA Personal Portfolio robo-advisor available||Fidelity Go robo-advisor available|
|📊 Research and Analysis||Free research and analysis tools, including market news, analyst reports, and screeners||Free research and analysis tools, including market news, analyst reports, and screeners|
|📱 Mobile App||Mobile app available for iOS and Android devices||Mobile app available for iOS and Android devices|
|🏦 Retirement Accounts||IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, 401(k) plans, and more||IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, 401(k) plans, and more|
|🎓 IRA Accounts||TIAA-CREF offers a wide range of IRA accounts, including Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs, with no annual maintenance fees.||Fidelity offers a variety of IRA accounts, including Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, and rollover IRAs, with no account minimums or annual maintenance fees. Fidelity also offers a range of tools and resources to help users plan for retirement, including retirement calculators and educational resources.
|📈 Trading Platform||Web-based trading platform available||Active Trader Pro platform available|
|📞 Customer Service||Phone and online chat support available||Phone and online chat support available|
|📚 Educational Resources||Free educational resources, including articles, webinars, and courses||Free educational resources, including articles, webinars, and courses|
|🌕 Fractional Shares||Fractional shares available for some ETFs and mutual funds||Fractional shares available for some ETFs|
|🌱 Socially Responsible||Socially responsible investment options available||Socially responsible investment options available|
|🌎 International Investing||International investing options available||International investing options available|
|💳 Cash Management||Checking accounts, savings accounts, and CDs available||Cash management accounts with debit cards available|
|🔍 Margin Trading||Margin trading available||Margin trading available|
|⚙️ Options Trading||Options trading available||Options trading available|
|₿ Cryptocurrency Trading||Cryptocurrency trading not available||Cryptocurrency trading available for some coins|
|🛡️ Account Security||Two-factor authentication and other security features available||Two-factor authentication and other security features available|
|💹 Leverage||Leverage available||Leverage available|
|⚖ Regulation||TIAA-CREF is regulated by the SEC and FINRA in the United States, as well as by state-level and international regulators. The company has a robust compliance program to ensure it meets regulatory obligations.||Fidelity is regulated by the SEC and FINRA in the United States, as well as by state-level and international regulators. The company has a compliance program to ensure it meets regulatory obligations.|
TIAA-CREF vs. Fidelity
Investing in the financial markets can be a great way to grow your wealth over time. With so many online brokers to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you. In this comparison, we’ll take a closer look at two popular online brokers, TIAA-CREF and Fidelity, to help you determine which one may be the best fit for your investment needs.
TIAA-CREF is a financial services organization that has been serving clients for over 100 years, offering a range of investment options and comprehensive financial planning tools. On the other hand, Fidelity is a leading online broker that has been serving clients for over 70 years, offering a range of investment options, low fees, and an excellent mobile app.
TIAA-CREF is a financial services organization that has been serving clients for over 100 years. It offers a range of investment options, including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), brokerage accounts, and more.
- Strong reputation: TIAA-CREF has a long history of providing reliable financial services and has built a strong reputation in the industry.
- Wide range of investment options: TIAA-CREF offers a variety of investment options, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and more, making it a good choice for individuals with diverse investment needs.
- Comprehensive financial planning tools: TIAA-CREF provides a range of tools and resources to help clients plan for their financial future, including retirement planning calculators and educational resources.
- Expert advice: TIAA-CREF’s financial advisors are knowledgeable and experienced, and can provide expert guidance to clients on their investment decisions.
- Competitive fees: TIAA-CREF’s fees are competitive with other online brokers, making it an affordable choice for many investors.
- Strong customer support: TIAA-CREF provides excellent customer support, with a range of resources and tools available to help clients manage their accounts and make informed investment decisions.
- Socially responsible investing options: TIAA-CREF offers a range of investment options that are designed to align with clients’ social and environmental values.
- Limited international investment options: TIAA-CREF’s investment options are primarily focused on US markets, so it may not be the best choice for individuals looking to invest in international markets.
- Limited mobile app functionality: TIAA-CREF’s mobile app has limited functionality compared to other online brokers, so it may not be the best choice for individuals who prefer to manage their investments on the go.
TIAA-CREF is a solid choice for individuals who are looking for a reputable online broker with a wide range of investment options and comprehensive financial planning tools. However, it may not be the best choice for individuals who are looking to invest in international markets or who prefer a more robust mobile app experience.
Fidelity is a leading online broker that has been serving clients for over 70 years. It offers a range of investment options, including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), brokerage accounts, and more.
- Strong reputation: Fidelity has a long history of providing reliable financial services and has built a strong reputation in the industry.
- Wide range of investment options: Fidelity offers a variety of investment options, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and more, making it a good choice for individuals with diverse investment needs.
- Comprehensive financial planning tools: Fidelity provides a range of tools and resources to help clients plan for their financial future, including retirement planning calculators and educational resources.
- Low fees: Fidelity is known for its low fees, making it an affordable choice for many investors.
- Excellent mobile app: Fidelity’s mobile app is easy to use and provides a range of features to help clients manage their investments on the go.
- Strong customer support: Fidelity provides excellent customer support, with a range of resources and tools available to help clients manage their accounts and make informed investment decisions.
- International investment options: Fidelity offers a range of investment options for individuals looking to invest in international markets.
- Higher minimum account balance requirement: Fidelity requires a higher minimum account balance than some other online brokers, which may make it less accessible for some individuals.
- Limited investment options for non-US residents: Fidelity’s investment options may be limited for non-US residents, so it may not be the best choice for individuals living outside of the US.
Fidelity is a great choice for individuals who are looking for a reputable online broker with a wide range of investment options, low fees, and a comprehensive mobile app. However, it may not be the best choice for individuals with limited funds or who are living outside of the US.
Features & Primary Uses
TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association — College Retirement Equities Fund) is a Fortune 100 company that chiefly provides retirement investment services for people who work in the fields of culture, medicine, research and academia. They serve more than 5 million active and retired workers, and manage around $889 billion in combined assets.
One of the central uses for TIAA is to allow people in their qualifying fields to set up retirement plans, which employers can sponsor. TIAA consultants are also on hand to guide people’s investments and suggests ways to work their annuities and mutual funds to gain the most profit.
Fidelity, meanwhile, is a low-cost brokerage firm that manages about $1 trillion in retail net assets, and focuses on investing in mutual and index funds. Fidelity works with both active and passive index funds to provide variety for its customers.
One of the biggest draws for Fidelity is its focus on active wealth management, as it stays popular and affordable by providing high-quality financial advisory services, online tools and asset management services. This is great for investors who like to be more active with their portfolios, and saves them money by putting them in charge of their investments.
To help investors, both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity offer research tools and online trading platforms that are fairly reputable and robust. TIAA-CREF, for instance, offers Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, Morningstar Fund Screener, Dow Jones Business News, 100 real time quotes and unlimited delayed quotes, among other things.
Meanwhile, Fidelity offers a similarly impressive roster of third-party experts and providers, providing independent expertise for all manner of investment strategies. Stock and ETF screeners allow users to search using hundreds of different filters, and their Stock Dashboard provides in-depth charting and Recognia-based technical events.
When it comes to their user interfaces and trading platforms, TIAA-CREF’s solutions are surprisingly features-laden. While they only have a Web-based online interface, it is quite user-friendly and intuitive, especially for less advanced traders. Fidelity’s Active AutoTrader ProPlatform, meanwhile, is extremely robust and comprehensive, making it the better option.
In the end, Fidelity provides just a few more features than TIAA-CREF, when viewed through a modern investment perspective. TIAA-CREF’s arsenal is nothing to sneeze at, of course, but their approach suffers just slightly from being such a long-lasting traditional outfit trying to update for a more net-ready world. Fidelity’s broader online features eke them toward the lead in terms of functionality.
A Comparison of TIAA-CREF and Fidelity in Retirement and IRA Accounts
TIAA-CREF and Fidelity are two financial institutions that offer a range of investment options, including retirement and Individual Retirement Account (IRA) accounts. TIAA-CREF primarily focuses on serving employees of non-profit organizations (tiaa.org), while Fidelity caters to individuals across all sectors.
In terms of retirement accounts, both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity offer traditional and Roth IRAs (fidelity.com), as well as employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s. However, TIAA-CREF has a strong reputation for its fixed annuity products (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org), which guarantee a set rate of return, making them a popular option for retirement planning. Fidelity, on the other hand, has a wider range of investment options, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and individual stocks.
When it comes to IRA accounts, both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity offer traditional and Roth IRA options (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org). TIAA-CREF also offers a unique IRA option called the TIAA-CREF IRA Annuity (tiaa.org) which allows investors to convert their IRA savings into a lifetime income stream. Fidelity offers a wide range of IRA investment options, including mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and bonds (tiaa.org).
Overall, TIAA-CREF and Fidelity have different strengths when it comes to retirement and IRA accounts. TIAA-CREF is known for its fixed annuity products and focus on non-profit organizations (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org), while Fidelity offers a wider range of investment options. When deciding between the two, investors should consider their individual retirement goals and investment preferences to determine which institution best meets their needs.
TIAA and Fidelity focusing specifically on their 403(b) plans
Keep in mind that the details of each plan can vary depending on the employer’s agreement with the provider, so it’s important to review the specific plan information available through your employer.
- Investment Options: TIAA: TIAA’s 403(b) plans primarily focus on annuity products, fixed-income investments, and a variety of mutual funds, including stock, bond, and target-date funds. The emphasis on annuities and fixed-income investments can provide stable, long-term returns for participants. Fidelity: Fidelity’s 403(b) plans offer a wide range of investment options, including stock, bond, and target-date mutual funds, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other securities. Fidelity has an extensive lineup of low-cost index funds and actively managed funds.
- Fees and Expenses: TIAA: TIAA’s fees for 403(b) plans can vary depending on the specific investment products chosen. Annuity products and certain mutual funds may have higher management fees and transaction fees compared to some other investment options. Fidelity: Fidelity is known for offering low-cost investment options in their 403(b) plans. Index funds and ETFs generally have low expense ratios, which can help investors keep more of their returns over time. Actively managed funds may have higher fees.
- Customer Service and Support: TIAA: TIAA has a long history of serving the nonprofit and education sectors, and they offer specialized support for these groups. They provide financial planning services, educational materials, and dedicated customer support for 403(b) plan participants. Fidelity: Fidelity also offers comprehensive customer service and support, including financial planning services, educational resources, and online tools to help participants manage their 403(b) accounts. They have a strong reputation for quality customer service across their investment products and services.
- Platform and User Experience: TIAA: TIAA’s online platform and mobile app for managing 403(b) accounts may not be as intuitive or streamlined as some other providers, but it still allows participants to access their account information, make transactions, and access resources. Fidelity: Fidelity is known for its user-friendly platform and mobile app, which makes it easy for participants to manage their 403(b) accounts, make transactions, and access educational materials. They also offer advanced tools and resources for more experienced investors.
In summary, TIAA and Fidelity both offer 403(b) plans with different investment options and services. TIAA has a long history of serving the nonprofit and education sectors and focuses on annuity products and fixed-income investments, while Fidelity provides a wide range of low-cost investment options and a user-friendly platform. To determine which provider is best suited for your needs, carefully review the details of each plan available through your employer and consider factors such as investment options, fees, and available support.
TIAA-CREF and Fidelity largely focus on somewhat different things for their customers — TIAA deals chiefly with retirement accounts, while Fidelity focuses on index funds. However, both can provide myriad investment options for their users.
With TIAA, their primary focus is retirement plans and IRAs, as well as their exclusive mutual funds and annuities; however, they also provide the typical brokerage services provided by companies like Fidelity (bonds, stocks, funds, ETFs). TIAA also allows users to have regular banking, home loans, life insurance, and charitable giving options as well.
Fidelity offers a few more options than TIAA-CREF in terms of asset classes: low-cost stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, international investments and CDs are all there for the trading. They also keep them at the same equity trade rate, offering unlimited trades and shares for all their customers.
Fidelity’s ability to trade internationally helps them immensely as a company, as well as their more active trading philosophy and, of course, their ability to cater to people outside of academia and TIAA-related fields.
However, one thing that can’t be ignored is that TIAA-CREF’s bread and butter — their mutual funds — are some of the highest-rated mutual funds out there. They carry funds at all levels of risk, allowing users to choose from either lifecycle or target date funds, customizing their investment experience among these reputable assets with a level of security that Fidelity can’t quite match.
TIAA-CREF’s high-quality mutual funds, and the presence of normal banking and brokerage services, gives them the edge here. While Fidelity’s rates are still extremely low and highly reputable, if you qualify for TIAA’s mutual funds and annuities you inherently get an advantage through employer support and the high quality of said assets.
Consistency is the name of the game, and both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity are incredibly consistent when it comes to their competitive fees and commissions. As an entry-level solution, Fidelity just requires a minimum balance of $2,000, and investments of any kind only cost $7.95 each trade in commissions. (Options trading costs an additional $0.75 per contract.)
TIAA-CREF also offers $7.95 stock/ETF commissions, and offers $50 commissions for mutual funds. Fidelity’s is pretty much the same at $49.95, though in some funds it can go up to $75.
Their fees are also rock bottom as well, charging nothing to set up and maintain their accounts, including IRAs.
While TIAA-CREF and Fidelity have virtually identical commission rates, the major exception to that rule is options trading, in which TIAA-CREF’s rates go up to $9.99 per trade (with a whopping $2 per contract). That’s a marked increase in price, which technically makes Fidelity eke out the win on cost.
According to (tiaa.org), there is no minimum to open a self-directed brokerage account with TIAA-CREF. However, accounts that remain unfunded for more than 30 days or have a balance below $100 for a minimum of 3 months, may be closed. Please note to be considered for margin and options privileges, there is a $2,000 deposit requirement and mutual funds purchased within your brokerage account must meet certain criteria.
You may want to contact TIAA-CREF directly 844-TIAA-IRA for more information. (tiaa.org) (tiaa.org)
Asset allocation is important for picking the right distribution of investments, and both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity take steps to ensure proper diversification so your long-term investments are safe.
Fidelity, for instance, places a heavy focus on diversifying portfolios, providing a number of asset allocation funds that are supported by research and lets their traders have a tremendous amount of flexibility.
Fidelity’s approach is to do macroeconomic, quantitative and fundamental analyses for all their portfolios and funds to find the perfect investment ideas for your investment goals. To be fair, the auto-trading that works as part of Fidelity’s approach takes this largely out of the trader’s hands, but it still runs on sound principles.
TIAA-CREF, meanwhile, has a decent Asset Allocation Evaluator tool that helps you find examples of the best ways to allocate investment savings among several different asset classes.
Which Should You Pick? Who Is Each Good For?
One obvious choice lies in your occupation — are you a teacher? Or someone who works in medical, research, or cultural fields? If so, you’re likely to go for TIAA-CREF, as the infrastructure is already there for you to integrate your investments into your financial life.
Fidelity, on the other hand, is great for traders who want to be more aggressive and active with their portfolios. They’ve got the same low trade cost, along with a robust online trading platform, to help traders actively manage their funds in a way that allows them to gain substantial ROIs.
Unlike the comparatively old-fashioned approach of TIAA-CREF, Fidelity has a service-oriented approach to allow tech-savvy traders to maximize their profits on their platform. You’ll get more of a focus on apps and other technology, and be generally more hands-on with your investing.
From a customer service perspective, investors have to choose between quantity or quality. TIAA-CREF only really offers limited phone support for customers, but in general they’re very responsive and helpful. Fidelity is slightly less responsive, but they offer more options for customer service (such as email and chat support, as well as an automated Virtual Assistant).
Another thing to keep in mind is that, for the most part, TIAA-CREF and Fidelity have virtually identical commission rates. If you want to go for options trading as your primary mode of investment, Fidelity just edges out TIAA-CREF at $2 less per trade (and $1.25 less per contract), but otherwise they’re set up pretty similarly.
In the end, if you’re a non-teacher who wants a solid investment solution, Fidelity is your only option between the two. However, if you qualify for TIAA-CREF, and still want some better options trading, give Fidelity a shot.
Both services are fantastic solutions for people wanting to solidify their investments; just look at what you want out of your broker, and it’s possible to make the right choice.
When it comes to regulation, both TIAA-CREF and Fidelity are regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This ensures that they adhere to industry standards and regulations, and provides a degree of protection for clients’ investments.
Fidelity and TIAA are both financial services companies. Fidelity specializes in investments such as mutual funds, stocks, and ETFs, as well as financial advice. TIAA is a specialized retirement services company that focuses on providing retirement income products, annuities, and investments. Both companies offer services and products directed towards retirement savings and investment strategies, but TIAA’s services are more focused on retirement income.
Yes, TIAA is generally considered a strong retirement option for those eligible for it. It offers a wide range of investment options, many of which have excellent long-term performance. Its fees are lower than the industry average, and it offers a generous guaranteed retirement income option.
Yes, you can move your investments from TIAA to Fidelity. You can do this through a process called a “rollover.” When you rollover funds from one account to another, you’re transferring the funds without paying taxes on them. Make sure you research whether there may be additional fees or transfer limitations associated with the rollover. To rollover a TIAA account to Fidelity, you’ll need to contact both the original provider and Fidelity. They will work with you to guide you through the process.
No, TIAA has low fees compared to other financial advisors. The company’s average total expense ratio for actively managed and passive investment products is only 0.10%, which is well below the industry average.
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