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Fees and Trading Costs of Equity Mutual Funds in 401(k) Plans and Potential Savings from ETFS and Commingled Trusts

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  • Richard W. Kopcke
  • Francis M. Vitagliano
  • Zhenya S. Karamcheva
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    Abstract

    As the role of 401(k) and similar defined-contribution plans continues to expand in our retirement system, plan participants are paying more of the cost of financing their retirement income. This study analyzes the trading costs and fees of the 100 largest domestic equity mutual funds held in defined-contribution pension plans for the years 2004 through 2008. The pricing of the actively managed funds in this sample cost the average plan 0.70 of a percentage point or more in annual returns. By shifting investment options from managed mutual funds to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or commingled trusts, 401(k) plans can align the fees they pay more closely with the expense of the services they use. This realignment can allow an average plan to reduce its administration and management fees between 0.20 and 0.40 percent of assets. In addition, the shift to ETFs and commingled trusts that hold ETFs can reduce average trading costs 0.50 percent of assets or more for participants holding managed equity mutual funds. The fees and trading costs of the domestic equity funds in this sample are not correlated with the performance of the funds. The funds with the greatest expenses tended to divide evenly between those funds that outperformed and those that underperformed the market by the largest margins.

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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/fees-and-trading-costs-of-equity-mutual-funds-in-401k-plans-and-potential-savings-from-etfs-and-commingled-trusts/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2009-27.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2009
    Date of revision: Nov 2009
    Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2009-27

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    1. Laurent Barras & Olivier Scaillet & Russ Wermers, 2010. "False Discoveries in Mutual Fund Performance: Measuring Luck in Estimated Alphas," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(1), pages 179-216, 02.
    2. Richard W. Kopcke & Francis Vitagliano & Dan Muldoon, 2009. "The Structure of 401(k) Fees," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2009.
    3. Glosten, Lawrence R. & Harris, Lawrence E., 1988. "Estimating the components of the bid/ask spread," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 123-142, May.
    4. Nicolas P. B. Bollen, 2005. "Short-Term Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 569-597.
    5. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
    6. Chan, Louis K C & Lakonishok, Josef, 1995. " The Behavior of Stock Prices around Institutional Trades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1147-74, September.
    7. Harris, Lawrence, 1990. " Statistical Properties of the Roll Serial Covariance Bid/Ask Spread Estimator," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 579-90, June.
    8. Bikker, Jacob A. & Spierdijk, Laura & Sluis, Pieter Jelle van der, 2004. "The Implementation Shortfall of Institutional Equity Trades," Serie Research Memoranda 0009, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    9. Kempf, Alexander & Korn, Olaf, 1999. "Market depth and order size1," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 29-48, February.
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