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Offsetting the Incentives: Risk Shifting and Benefits of Benchmarking in Money Management

  • Alex Shapiro
  • Suleyman Basak
  • Anna Pavlova

Money managers are rewarded for increasing the value of assets under management, and predominantly so in the mutual fund industry. This gives the manager an implicit incentive to exploit the well-documented positive fund-flows to relative-performance relationship by manipulating her risk exposure. In a dynamic asset allocation framework, we show that as the year-end approaches, the ensuing convexities in the manager's objective induce her to closely mimic the index, relative to which her performance is evaluated, when the fund's year-to-date return is sufficiently high. As her relative performance falls behind, she chooses to deviate from the index by either increasing or decreasing the volatility of her portfolio. The maximum deviation is achieved at a critical level of underperformance. It may be optimal for the manager to reach such deviation via selling the risky asset despite its positive risk premium. Under multiple sources of risk, with both systematic and idiosyncratic risks present, we show that optimal managerial risk shifting may not necessarily involve taking on any idiosyncratic risk. The manager's policy results in economically significant departures from investors' desired risk exposure. We then demonstrate how constraining the manager's investment opportunity set, via a simple benchmarking restriction, can ameliorate the adverse effects of managerial incentives.

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings with number 583.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nawm04:583
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