Investment Options

Harvard’s retirement plans offer you an investment lineup of carefully chosen options that lets you create an investment strategy that aligns with your timeline, preferences and financial goals. To provide you with a diverse range of choices, Harvard offers Vanguard target date funds, core funds from Vanguard and Schwab, annuities from TIAA, and a brokerage account option. All of these options are available through the TIAA multi-vendor administrative platform.*

Retirement Program Changes

Harvard is making changes to the investment options and management available through the retirement programs, both those funded by the University and those you fund yourself. The following changes were effective as of April 9: 

  • A new simplified investment lineup where all plan contributions are directed, effective April 9. The lineup includes mutual funds and annuities provided by Vanguard and TIAA, including the default investment Vanguard Target Retirement funds, along with a new TIPS fund option from Schwab.
  • A single platform managed by TIAA at TIAA.org/harvard for retirement account administration and recordkeeping with one website where employees can view and elect investments and make changes. All participants now have an account on the TIAA platform.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stock market volatility, Harvard has postponed the transfer of existing balances at Fidelity and Vanguard to the new TIAA platform. Participants will be notified when a new transfer date has been determined. Read the March 25, 2020 letter.
  • Learn more about the changes and transition.

Target date funds from Vanguard

Target date funds are considered a “best practice” approach to retirement investing. That's because they offer:

  • "Built-in" diversification. Investing in a variety of major asset classes—such as bonds, U.S. stocks, and international stocks
  • Automatic asset allocation and rebalancing. As you get closer to retirement, the fund manager gradually shifts the fund’s investment mix from higher-risk investments to lower-risk investments.
  • Low investment fees/costs. The Vanguard funds offers low management fees, meaning you keep more of your money.

The Vanguard Target Retirement funds are the automatic (default) investment for any newly eligible faculty and staff member who makes no other investment choice for University retirement plan contributions or for a TDA or 457(b) account. If you make no choice, you will be defaulted into a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund closest to the year you turn 65. Learn more by reviewing the Vanguard Institutional Target Retirement Fund fact sheets.

Core funds and Annuities

You can also create your own mix of investments by choosing from the plans’ selection of low-fee core fund investment options based on your long-term savings goals.

You can choose core funds in different asset classes – money market, bonds, U.S. stocks (including a social index stock option), treasury inflation protected security (TIPS) fund and international stocks – which can be combined to create a diversified portfolio with varying degrees of potential risk and return, depending on your selections.

Learn more about Harvard’s core fund choices

Vanguard: Review the fund fact sheets for the core funds from Vanguard.

Schwab: Review the fund fact sheet for the TIPS fund from Schwab.

Annuity Investments

In addition to the core funds, you can choose three annuity funds from TIAA:

  • TIAA Traditional Account
  • CREF Money Market Account R3
  • CREF Stock Account R3

Annuities are financial investment options that guarantee to pay you (or you and a spouse or partner) income for life; management fees for these investments are higher than those for target date or core fund options. Review the fund fact sheets for the annuity investments and contact TIAA.

Brokerage account

You can also access thousands of additional mutual funds through the TIAA self-directed brokerage account. This option is for savvy, “hands-on” investors who are comfortable researching and selecting their own investments and managing their portfolios. Contact TIAA directly to set up a brokerage account. (This option is not available for the 457(b) plan.) Please note: Harvard neither selects nor monitors investment funds available through the brokerage account and TIAA doesn’t offer investment advice for brokerage accounts.

How to select your investments

  • Visit the HURC website or call 800-527-1398
  • Choose from the investment lineup — fund options are available from several vendors: TIAA, Schwab or Vanguard through the HURC website — for your allocations.
  • If you make no investment election, you will be defaulted to the Vanguard Target date fund nearest to the year you turn 65.

Required fee disclosure information

Required fee and investment disclosures are designed to help you make informed decisions, and include a Summary of Plan Services and Costs and Investment Options Comparison Chart (note that the chart may include funds in the retirement plans that are closed to new investors). If you have any questions concerning this material, please call the HURC or contact the investment vendors directly. You can see fee information for each vendor by going to Forms & Documents, select Total Rewards > Retirement.

* Note for faculty and staff employed before April 9: If you have a retirement account, TDA or 457(b) account balance at Fidelity or Vanguard, those existing balances will remain at these vendors and in your current investments. No new contributions or transfers can be directed to existing accounts, but you can view and manage existing accounts through those vendors. A transfer date to the new TIAA platform and investment lineup will be announced when available.