Financial forum to address market concerns, retirement savings

Stock market fluctuationsVolatile markets and the destabilization of several large financial institutions have created concern over retirement savings, credit availability and other money issues. In response, SMU’s Department of Human Resources will host “Market Volatility and Its Impact on You: Reassessing vs. Reacting in Response to Your Finances” 3-4:30 p.m. Nov. 11 in the Collins Executive Education Center.

In addition, SMU faculty and staff members are encouraged to speak with representatives from their investment companies for detailed information about how their individual plans have been affected:

TIAA CREF: 1-800-842-2776
Fidelity: 1-800-343-0860
Vanguard: 1-800-523-1188

To an extent, the University’s endowment has been negatively affected by the market fluctuations, wrote SMU President R. Gerald Turner in a memo entitled “Managing Your SMU Retirement Investments,” distributed to faculty and staff members by e-mail Oct. 27, 2008.

However, he added, “we are committed to a diversified, long-term investment strategy that has served the University well over many years. The endowment’s assets are invested in several asset classes, diverse markets, and multiple strategies that help to protect its value and enhance its return in various financial environments and economic conditions.

“This approach has allowed SMU to maintain stable operations in the past, and we anticipate that being the case in the future.”

>> Read the full text of President Turner’s memo


October 27, 2008

TO: SMU Faculty and Staff

FROM: R. Gerald Turner, President

RE: Managing Your SMU Retirement Investments

A prolonged downturn in the U.S. and global economy is producing understandable anxiety about retirement investments, including those of SMU faculty and staff. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to review our three investment companies and be sure that you have information about how you can stay up-to-date with your accounts.

• Account executives from TIAA CREF, Fidelity, and Vanguard are providing SMU with regular updates regarding the financial stability of their companies, as well as the impact of financial conditions on the investments they manage for SMU faculty and staff.

• All three companies are providing information and resources to help those who have accounts with them understand market volatility so that you may make prudent decisions regarding your investments. The companies are in the process of communicating with participants in a variety of ways:

  • Direct mailings to participants
  • Video Messages from senior executives and investment strategists
  • Informational articles on their respective Web sites
  • Live and pre-recorded workshops
  • One-on-one meetings with investments counselors

• TIAA CREF, Fidelity, and Vanguard representatives recently have seen a significant increase in calls from participants, including SMU faculty and staff. We have received assurances from all of our investment company representatives that they are taking necessary steps to respond in a timely manner. These steps include increasing both the number of representatives and hours in which the customer service centers receive and respond to calls.

• Brett Hammond, TIAA CREF chief investment strategist, has been invited to speak on November 6, 2008 at a meeting of the SMU Retirement Plans Advisory Council and University Benefits Council.

• A panel discussion led by SMU faculty and staff is being planned for November 11, 2008 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Crum Auditorium at the Collins Executive Education Building and will be open to all active and retired faculty and staff. Additional information about this event will soon be available.

Everyone’s retirement planning is unique; so it’s important that you get the answers you need for your own situation. For specific questions about your accounts, I encourage you to talk to your investment company representatives. I’ve listed the number to call below.

TIAA CREF: 1-800-842-2776
Fidelity: 1-800-343-0860
Vanguard: 1-800-523-1188

For additional questions, please contact the SMU Human Resources Department at 214/768-3311.

SMU’s Endowment Investments

Independent of your retirement accounts, SMU’s endowment is also being negatively affected by the market fluctuations. However, we are committed to a diversified, long-term investment strategy that has served the University well over many years. The endowment’s assets are invested in several asset classes, diverse markets, and multiple strategies that help to protect its value and enhance its return in various financial environments and economic conditions. This approach has allowed SMU to maintain stable operations in the past, and we anticipate that being the case in the future.

About Kathleen Tibbetts

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