TIAA-CREF CEO Offers Investment Advice to Students Before UVA Investing Conference

12 November 2015

On 12 November, TIAA-CREF President and CEO Roger Ferguson Jr. will join Darden School of Business Professor Frank Warnock on stage at the eighth annual University of Virginia Investing Conference to discuss the current investing landscape in front of hundreds of finance professionals, students and academics.

Ferguson is a champion for financial literacy as a vital component to lifelong financial well-being, and TIAA-CREF strives to increase financial education for all Americans. Helping students become more financially savvy is an important part of that effort. TIAA-CREF has collaborated with the Council of Graduate Schools to launch GradSense, which helps students understand how the type of degree they pursue can impact their future earnings. The GradSense website also provides students with loan repayment advice, spending tips and career guidance, while TIAA-CREF’s website offers an education section for students and working professionals aiming to enhance their financial literacy.

Before the conference, Ferguson offered advice for students and recent graduates about leadership and building the right investment foundation.

When should current students and recent graduates begin to worry about saving for retirement?

College students should absolutely be thinking about saving for retirement. If they start saving now – even just a little on a regular basis – they can have a huge impact on their financial well-being later in life. They should begin by learning what types of saving opportunities are available and how to set reasonable and informed retirement saving goals. Dedicating some time and energy to this pursuit is a key element to achieving financial well-being.

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing young working college students?

While it’s a great time to be a young person, I recognize there are some real challenges facing college students.  I think the most critical challenge is today’s economic environment. Young people are entering the workforce with higher levels of personal debt than previous generations and that, coupled with a very competitive job market, can make for a bit of a tough time.  But having a strong financial education can help you make the wise spending and saving decisions no matter what challenges arise.

What advice do you have for students and recent grads on what it takes to be an effective leader in today’s business world?

Learning to truly lead is a skill that will aid you through your entire career. The key to being an effective leader is inspiring others to follow you. You can’t be out in front leading the parade unless there are people willing to line up and march behind you. I believe that a true leader can inspire others by employing these four characteristics:

  • Expertise: Whether you’re an engineering professor or a lawyer or an administrative assistant, you better have a rock-solid command of your discipline.
  • Appeal: People have to like you, not because you’re charming or because you’re everybody’s best friend, but because you earn their respect.
  • Empathy: Effective leaders understand that people have lives, responsibilities, and demands outside of work.
  • Fortitude: Effective leaders are their organization’s shock absorbers — they’re the calm in the storm when there’s chaos and they’re grounded in the midst of euphoria.


About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia