TIAA rolls out digital safety deposit box to grow customer relationships

Financial services provider TIAA launched a virtual safety deposit box called that takes the friction out of finding documents like wills, insurance policies, stock and bond certificates and birth certificates by co-locating them in one digital portal. The feature, called Safe Estate, launched this week.

According to TIAA’s chief digital officer Scott Blandford, it’s an effort to deepen relationships with customers by tying all of customers financial information and noteworthy personal documents in one place. “It really came from how we think about people’s holistic financial lives,” Blandford told Bank Innovation. “Your financial life is more than just your bank account, it includes a bunch of these other topics, including estate planning, your will, that that sort of thing. And we see a big need with customers just trying to understand all of it.”

Safe Estate can include documents like tax records, power of attorney documents, financial plans and birth certificates. TIAA customers can currently access the feature free of charge through the company’s online interface, but Blandford said TIAA is considering possibilities to embed the experience into its mobile app. Should customers not choose to store digital copies of documents within Safe Estate, they can add instructions for family members and other trusted contacts on where to find them. The tool is also an entry point for a suite of instructional content on various topics including legacy; life and family; and finances and health.

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When asked about the security safeguards, Blandford said Safe Estate is protected by additional layers of security and encryption, and customers can enable multi-factor authentication or restrict access as required. When queried about whether TIAA is exploring the future use of blockchain to enhance the security of information and documents, Blandford acknowledged that it’s being considered, but did not offer specifics. “We’re thinking about it, we’ve done some pilots, and we are investing in it,” he noted.

Safe Estate fits into TIAA’s broader digital strategy because it encourages a 360-degree view of financial wellness, explained Blandford. TIAA currently has $1 trillion in assets under management. Its most recent acquisitions include EverBank financial (renamed TIAA Bank) and wealth management tech company MyVest, both completed in 2016. TIAA is also a member of the INV Fintech ecosystem.