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It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) Plans

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  • VERONIKA K. POOL
  • CLEMENS SIALM
  • IRINA STEFANESCU

Abstract

This paper investigates whether mutual fund families acting as trustees of 401(k) plans display favoritism toward their own funds. Using a hand-collected dataset on retirement investment options, we show that poorly-performing funds are less likely to be removed from and more likely to be added to a 401(k) menu if they are affiliated with the plan trustee. We find no evidence that plan participants undo this affiliation bias through their investment choices. Finally, the subsequent performance of poorly-performing affiliated funds indicates that these trustee decisions are not information driven and are costly to retirement savers.
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Suggested Citation

  • Veronika K. Pool & Clemens Sialm & Irina Stefanescu, 2016. "It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) Plans," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(4), pages 1779-1812, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:71:y:2016:i:4:p:1779-1812
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jofi.2016.71.issue-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:546-566 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Golez, Benjamin & Marin, Jose M., 2015. "Price support by bank-affiliated mutual funds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 614-638.
    3. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:2:p:278-291 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. A.M.J. Deetlefs & H. Bateman & L. Isabella Dobrescu & B.R. Newell & Andreas Ortmann & Susan Thorp, 2015. "Suspicious Minds (can be a good thing when saving for retirement)," Discussion Papers 2015-06A, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    5. Chan, Chia-Ying & Chen, Hsuan-Chi & Chiang, Yu Hsuan & Lai, Christine W., 2017. "Fund selection in target date funds," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 197-209.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • 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
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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