What’s in a name? Simplicity, if you’re TIAA-CREF. The giant financial services company announced today it’s shortening its name to “TIAA.”
The new name takes the nearly 100-year old organization full circle from 1918 when philanthropist Andrew Carnegie founded the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association to provide retirement plans for professors. Later, CREF, or College Retirement Equities Fund, was created to allow professors to invest in the stock market.
TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that the name change is really “a symbol of something bigger.” He says that “a simple, cleaner...more modern name, that still resonates with what we've been for the past 100 years, is an important part of signaling that the game is also being changed.”
The “game,” explains Ferguson, is making it a lot easier for TIAA’s 5 million customers to really understand—in plain, jargon-free language—how to invest their savings. But he adds that one of the reasons he stuck with the TIAA name, instead of an entirely new one, was to reassure customers that “our mission, our vision, our values, have not changed.”
Ferguson, a former top policymaker at the Federal Reserve, is a champion for financial literacy. He has been the driving force behind creating TIAA’s new website, mobile apps, and other tools to help customers break through the fear and inertia when it comes to making financial decisions. “The reason we exist,“ says Ferguson, “is to look after the financial well-being of literally millions of Americans.”