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The Market for Financial Advice: An Audit Study

Author

Listed:
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Markus Noeth
  • Antoinette Schoar

Abstract

Do financial advisers undo or reinforce the behavioral biases and misconceptions of their clients? We use an audit methodology where trained auditors meet with financial advisers and present different types of portfolios. These portfolios reflect either biases that are in line with the financial interests of the advisers (e.g., returns-chasing portfolio) or run counter to their interests (e.g., a portfolio with company stock or very low-fee index funds). We document that advisers fail to de-bias their clients and often reinforce biases that are in their interests. Advisers encourage returns-chasing behavior and push for actively managed funds that have higher fees, even if the client starts with a well-diversified, low-fee portfolio.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17929
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Diane Del Guercio & Jonathan Reuter & Paula A. Tkac, 2010. "Broker Incentives and Mutual Fund Market Segmentation," NBER Working Papers 16312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Henry S. Schneider, 2012. "Agency Problems and Reputation in Expert Services: Evidence from Auto Repair," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 406-433, September.
    3. John Chalmers & Jonathan Reuter, 2012. "Is Conflicted Investment Advice Better than No Advice?," NBER Working Papers 18158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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