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What is the Impact of Financial Advisors on Retirement Portfolio Choices and Outcomes?

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  • John Chalmers
  • Jonathan Reuter

Abstract

Within the Oregon University System's defined contribution retirement plan, one investment provider offers access to face-to-face financial advice through its network of brokers. We find that younger, less highly educated, and less highly paid employees are more likely to choose this provider. To benchmark the portfolios of broker clients, we use the actual portfolios of self-directed investors and counterfactual portfolios constructed using target-date funds, a popular default investment. Broker clients allocate contributions across a larger number of investments than self-directed investors, and they are less likely to remain fully invested in the default option. However, broker clients' portfolios are significantly riskier than self-directed investors' portfolios, and they underperform both benchmarks. Exploiting across-fund variation in broker compensation, we find that broker clients' allocations are higher when broker fees are higher. Survey responses from current plan participants support our identifying assumption that the portfolio choices of broker clients reflect the recommendations of their brokers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18158.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18158

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  1. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M. & Maki, Dean M., 2001. "Education and saving:: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-465, June.
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  3. John Chalmers & Jonathan Reuter, 2009. "How Do Retirees Value Life Annuities? Evidence from Public Employees," NBER Working Papers 15608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Cici, Gjergji & Kempf, Alexander & Sorhage, Christoph, 2013. "Are financial advisors useful? Evidence from tax-motivated mutual fund flows," CFR Working Papers 12-09 [rev.2], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  2. Cici, Gjergji & Kempf, Alexander & Sorhage, Christoph, 2013. "Are financial advisors useful? Evidence from tax-motivated mutual fund flows," CFR Working Papers 12-09 [rev.], University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  3. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2012. "Money doctors," Economics Working Papers 1355, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 2012. "Money Doctors," NBER Working Papers 18174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, . "Money Doctors," Working Paper 69721, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2012. "Money Doctors," Working Papers 464, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Markus Noeth & Antoinette Schoar, 2012. "The Market for Financial Advice: An Audit Study," NBER Working Papers 17929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Cici, Gjergji & Kempf, Alexander & Sorhage, Christoph, 2012. "Are financial advisors useful? Evidence from tax-motivated mutual fund flows," CFR Working Papers 12-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  6. Beyer, Max & de Meza, David & Reyniers, Diane, 2013. "Do financial advisor commissions distort client choice?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 117-119.

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