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Decentralized Investment Management: Evidence from the Pension Fund Industry

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  • DAVID BLAKE
  • ALBERTO G. ROSSI
  • ALLAN TIMMERMANN
  • IAN TONKS
  • RUSS WERMERS

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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Suggested Citation

  • David Blake & Alberto G. Rossi & Allan Timmermann & Ian Tonks & Russ Wermers, 2013. "Decentralized Investment Management: Evidence from the Pension Fund Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(3), pages 1133-1178, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:68:y:2013:i:3:p:1133-1178
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dirk Broeders & Arco van Oord & David Rijsbergen, 2015. "Scale economies in pension fund investments: A dissection of investment costs across asset classes," DNB Working Papers 474, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    2. Blake, David & Caulfield, Tristan & Ioannidis, Christos & Tonks, Ian, 2014. "Improved inference in the evaluation of mutual fund performance using panel bootstrap methods," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 183(2), pages 202-210.
    3. Dirk Broeders & Arco van Oord & David Rijsbergen, 2017. "Does it pay to pay performance fees? Empirical evidence from Dutch pension funds," DNB Working Papers 561, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    4. Andonov, Aleksandar & Eichholtz, Piet & Kok, Nils, 2015. "Intermediated investment management in private markets: Evidence from pension fund investments in real estate," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 73-103.
    5. Rossi, Alberto G. & Blake, David & Timmermann, Allan & Tonks, Ian & Wermers, Russ, 2015. "Network centrality and pension fund performance," CFR Working Papers 15-16, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    6. Lejeune, Miguel A. & Shen, Siqian, 2016. "Multi-objective probabilistically constrained programs with variable risk: Models for multi-portfolio financial optimization," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 252(2), pages 522-539.
    7. 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.
    8. repec:eee:ecolet:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:36-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Groenborg, Niels & Lunde, Asger & Timmermann, Allan G & Wermers, Russ, 2017. "Picking Funds with Confidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 11896, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Broeders, Dirk W.G.A. & van Oord, Arco & Rijsbergen, David R., 2016. "Scale economies in pension fund investments: A dissection of investment costs across asset classes," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 147-171.
    11. Niels S. Grønborg & Asger Lunde & Allan Timmermann & Russ Wermers, 1303. "Picking Funds with Confidence," CREATES Research Papers 2017-13, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    12. Joyce, Michael & Liu, Zhuoshi & Tonks, Ian, 2014. "Institutional investor portfolio allocation, quantitative easing and the global financial crisis," Bank of England working papers 510, Bank of England.
    13. Boubaker, Sabri & Gounopoulos, Dimitrios & Nguyen, Duc Khuong & Paltalidis, Nikos, 2015. "Assessing the effects of unconventional monetary policy on pension funds risk incentives," MPRA Paper 73398, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Aug 2016.
    14. Boubaker, Sabri & Gounopoulos, Dimitrios & Nguyen, Duc Khuong & Paltalidis, Nikos, 2017. "Assessing the effects of unconventional monetary policy and low interest rates on pension fund risk incentives," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 35-52.
    15. 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.
    16. repec:eee:finmar:v:36:y:2017:i:c:p:17-39 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors

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