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TOP EXECUTIVE OF WORLD'S LARGEST PENSION FUND ANSWERS EMPLOYEES' MOST OFTEN ASKED QUESTION

 NEW YORK, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Faced with an explosion in retirement plans and investment fund choices, employees want to know what to look for when a choice is offered, according to John J. McCormack, a top executive of the world's largest pension fund.
 Mr. McCormack, executive vice president of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), says this is possibly the most often asked question among employees of higher education, independent schools, and related non-profit education and research institutions served by his company.
 For employees who have a choice in selecting a retirement plan, Mr. McCormack, whose company manages more than $110 billion in assets, lists key questions they should ask and remarks on why they are important:
 -- Are the investment risk levels of the plans prudent for retirement savings?
 Remember, the money being invested is money that you are relying on for a financially secure retirement. Therefore, these assets should not be concentrated in high-risk or speculative type investments. However, you will need to assume some level of risk if you hope to offset inflation.
 -- What has been the long-term investment performance, over five and 10 years, of the funds available through the plans?
 Since you are seeking long-term investment gains for your retirement savings, you will want to select a pension plan whose investment options have successful, long-term track records. A fund that is "hot" in any one year is not necessarily a good indication of its ability to achieve long-term investment success.
 -- Are the pension plan companies financially sound? Enough to assure that the pension plans that they offer will provide retirement income for as long as is required?
 A major provider of pension plans are life insurance companies; they offer annuities, a very popular retirement investment instrument which provides lifetime income. To check the financial strength of these companies, you should look at reports from the three leading independent ratings agencies that evaluate them. These agencies are Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's and A.M. Best Company. Of course, the higher the rating from as many of these agencies as possible, the stronger the company. TIAA is only one of five U.S. life insurance companies, out of 2,200, to hold the highest rating from all three agencies.
 -- What type of services should be expected from the pension plan providers?
 Services offered to you should be free or of little cost. They should include easy toll-free telephone access to pension plan representatives fully qualified to answer questions on all pension plan aspects, from fees to investment and income options. In addition, you should be able to personally meet with a pension plan representative or counselor. You should also receive frequent periodic reports on your specific pension plan; these should include savings or accumulation totals.
 -- Are investment and other pension plan expenses competitive with those of other pension plans?
 The importance of low expenses cannot be overemphasized, as the following example illustrates. Let's say you contribute $2,000 for 25 consecutive years to a variable annuity from both CREF and another company -- a variable annuity is one whose income is solely determined by the actual performance of its investments. Then assume these contributions earn a gross annual rate of return of 10 percent. After 25 years, a variable annuity from CREF, whose annual expenses average less than .40 percent, would typically provide you with about $45,000 more in retirement savings than the typical variable annuity which, according to VARDS Reports, an annuity rating service, charges 2.24 percent in annual fees.
 TIAA-CREF invites employees of higher education, independent schools, and related non-profit educational and research organizations to call us toll-free at 1-800-842-2776 for a free retirement planning packet.
 -0- 1/21/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Above kit including CREF prospectus available. CREF certificates are distributed by TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services./
 /CONTACT: Tom Pinto of TIAA-CREF, 212-916-5986/


CO: TIAA-CREF ST: New York IN: SU:

SM -- NYFFNS4 -- 7187 01/21/93 07:04 EST
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Date:Jan 21, 1993
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