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Decentralized Investment Management: Evidence from the Pension Fund Industry

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  • Blake, David
  • Timmermann, Allan G
  • Tonks, Ian
  • Wermers, Russ

Abstract

The past few decades have seen a major shift from centralized to decentralized investment management by pension fund sponsors, despite the increased coordination problems that this brings. Using a unique, proprietary dataset of pension sponsors and managers, we identify two secular decentralization trends: sponsors switched (i) from generalist (balanced) to specialist managers across asset classes and (ii) from single to multiple competing managers within each asset class. We study the effect of decentralization on the risk and performance of pension funds, and find evidence supporting some predictions of recent theory on this subject. Specifically, the switch from balanced to specialist managers is motivated by the superior performance of specialists, and the switch from single to multiple managers is driven by sponsors properly anticipating diseconomies-of-scale (as funds grow larger) and adding managers with different strategies before performance deteriorates. Interestingly, competition between multiple specialist managers also improves performance, after controlling for size of assets and fund management company-level skill effects. We also study changes in risk-taking when moving to decentralized management. Here, we find that sponsors appear to rationally anticipate the difficulty of coordinating multiple managers by allocating reduced risk budgets to each manager, which helps to compensate for the suboptimal diversification that results; sponsors also benefit from alpha diversification when employing multiple fund managers. Overall, our results provide support for pension fund sponsors, at least on average, rationally choosing their delegation structure.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7679.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7679

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Keywords: asset management; decentralized management; pension funds; principal agent problems;

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References

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  1. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan, 1993. "Performance Measurement without Benchmarks: An Examination of Mutual Fund Returns," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(1), pages 47-68, January.
  2. Joseph Chen & Harrison Hong & Ming Huang & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2004. "Does Fund Size Erode Mutual Fund Performance? The Role of Liquidity and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1276-1302, December.
  3. Jonathan B. Berk & Richard C. Green, 2004. "Mutual Fund Flows and Performance in Rational Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1269-1295, December.
  4. Sandeep Kapur & Allan Timmermann, 2004. "Relative Performance Evaluation Contracts and Asset Market Equilibrium," Finance 0408005, EconWPA.
  5. Mookherjee, Dilip, 1984. "Optimal Incentive Schemes with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 433-46, July.
  6. Sharpe, W F, 1981. "Decentralized Investment Management," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(2), pages 217-34, May.
  7. Ian Tonks, 2005. "Performance Persistence of Pension-Fund Managers," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(5), pages 1917-1942, September.
  8. Blake, David & Lehmann, Bruce N & Timmermann, Allan, 1999. "Asset Allocation Dynamics and Pension Fund Performance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(4), pages 429-61, October.
  9. Blake, David & Timmermann, Allan G, 2002. "International Asset Allocation with Time-Varying Investment Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3464, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
  11. Kosowski, Robert & Timmermann, Allan & Wermers, Russ & White, Hal, 2005. "Can mutual fund stars really pick stocks? New evidence from a bootstrap analysis," CFR Working Papers 05-14, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  12. Blake, David, 2003. "Pension Schemes and Pension Funds in the United Kingdom," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780199243532, October.
  13. Jon A. Christopherson & Wayne E. Ferson & Debra A. Glassman, 1996. "Conditioning Manager Alphas on Economic Information: Another Look at the Persistence of Performance," NBER Working Papers 5830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jeffrey A. Busse & Amit Goyal & Sunil Wahal, 2010. "Performance and Persistence in Institutional Investment Management," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(2), pages 765-790, 04.
  15. Grinblatt, Mark & Titman, Sheridan, 1994. "A Study of Monthly Mutual Fund Returns and Performance Evaluation Techniques," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(03), pages 419-444, September.
  16. Coggin, T Daniel & Fabozzi, Frank J & Rahman, Shafiqur, 1993. " The Investment Performance of U.S. Equity Pension Fund Managers: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(3), pages 1039-55, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Gabriele Zinna, 2014. "Price pressures in the UK index-linked market: an empirical investigation," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 968, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Donnelly, Catherine & Guillén, Montserrat & Nielsen, Jens Perch, 2014. "Bringing cost transparency to the life annuity market," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 14-27.

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