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How (not) to pay for advice: A framework for consumer financial protection

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Author Info

  • Inderst, Roman
  • Ottaviani, Marco

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of the compensation structure for brokers who advise customers regarding the suitability of financial products. Our model explains why brokers are commonly compensated indirectly through contingent commissions paid by product providers, even though this compensation structure could lead to biased advice. When customers are wary of the adviser's incentives, contingent commissions can be an effective incentive tool to induce the adviser to learn which specialized product is most suitable for the specific needs of customers. If, instead, customers naively believe they receive unbiased advice, high product prices and correspondingly high commissions become a tool of exploitation. Policy intervention that mandates disclosure of commissions can protect naive consumers and increase welfare. However, prohibiting or capping commissions could have the unintended consequence of stifling the adviser's incentive to acquire information. More vigorous competition benefits consumers and reduces exploitation, but firms have limited incentives to educate naive customers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

Volume (Year): 105 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 393-411

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:105:y:2012:i:2:p:393-411

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

Related research

Keywords: Brokers; Financial advisers; Commissions; Consumer financial protection; Disclosure;

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References

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  1. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  2. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540, May.
  3. Inderst, Roman & Ottaviani, Marco, 2009. "Misselling through agents," IMFS Working Paper Series 36, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS), Goethe University Frankfurt.
  4. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2009. "Misselling through Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 883-908, June.
  5. Hugh Gravelle, 1993. "Product Price and Advice Quality: Implications of the Commission System in Life Assurance," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 18(1), pages 31-53, June.
  6. Hackethal, Andreas & Inderst, Roman & Meyer, Steffen, 2010. "Trading on Advice," CEPR Discussion Papers 8091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Admati, Anat R. & Pfleiderer, Paul, 1986. "A monopolistic market for information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 400-438, August.
  8. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Della Vigna, Stefano, 2003. "Contract Design and Self Control: Theory and Evidence," Research Papers 1801, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  9. Juan-JosÈ Ganuza & JosÈ S. Penalva, 2010. "Signal Orderings Based on Dispersion and the Supply of Private Information in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 1007-1030, 05.
  10. Malmendier, Ulrike & Shanthikumar, Devin, 2007. "Are small investors naive about incentives?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 457-489, August.
  11. Cynthia J. Pahl, 2007. "A compilation of state mortgage broker laws and regulations, 1996-2006," Community Affairs Report 2007-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Daylian M. Cain & George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2005. "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, 01.
  13. Carlin, Bruce I., 2009. "Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 278-287, March.
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  15. Neal M. Stoughton & Youchang Wu & Josef Zechner, 2011. "Intermediated Investment Management," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(3), pages 947-980, 06.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jennifer Brown & Dylan B. Minor, 2012. "Misconduct in Credence Good Markets," NBER Working Papers 18608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fehr, Dietmar & Huck, Steffen, 2013. "Who knows It is a game? On rule understanding, strategic awareness and cognitive ability," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-306, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Agarwal, Vikas & Nada, Vikram & Ray, Sugata, 2013. "Institutional investment and intermediation in the hedge fund industry," CFR Working Papers 13-03, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  4. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2013. "Sales Talk, Cancellation Terms and the Role of Consumer Protection," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 1002-1026.

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