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Pension fund sophistication and investment policy

  • J. de Dreu
  • J.A. Bikker

This paper assesses the sophistication of pension funds’ investment policies using data on 748 Dutch pension funds during the 1999–2006 period. We develop three indicators of sophistication: gross rounding of investment choices, investments in alternative sophisticated asset classes and ‘home bias’. We find that pension funds’ strategic portfolio choices are often based on coarse and possibly less sophisticated approaches. Most pension funds, particularly the medium-sized and smaller ones, round strategic asset allocations to the nearest multiple of 5%, similar to age heaping in demographic and historical studies. Second, many pension funds invest little or nothing in alternative asset classes besides equities and bonds, resulting in limited asset diversification. Third, medium-sized and smaller pension funds favor regional investments and as such not fully employ the opportunities of international diversification. Finally, we show that pension funds using less sophisticated asset allocation rules tend to opt for investment strategies with a lower risk-return profile.

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Paper provided by Utrecht School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09-13.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:0913
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  1. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
  2. J.A. Bikker & D.W.G.A Broeders & J. de Dreu, 2007. "Stock Market Performance and Pension Fund Investment Policy: Rebalancing, Free Float, or Market Timing," Working Papers 07-27, Utrecht School of Economics.
  3. Jun-Koo Kang & Rene M. Stulz, 1995. "Why Is There a Home Bias? An Analysis of Foreign Portfolio Equity Ownership in Japan," NBER Working Papers 5166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bikker, Jacob A. & De Dreu, Jan, 2009. "Operating costs of pension funds: the impact of scale, governance, and plan design," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 63-89, January.
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  19. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2000. "Trading Is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(2), pages 773-806, 04.
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