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Seasonal asset allocation: Evidence from mutual fund flows

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  • Kamstra, Mark J.
  • Kramer, Lisa A.
  • Levi, Maurice D.
  • Wermers, Russ

Abstract

Over the past 30 years, mutual funds have become the dominant vehicle through which individual investors prepare for retirement via defined contribution plans. Further, money market mutual funds, which hold $2.7 trillion as of September 2013, are now a major part of the cash economy in the U.S. Accordingly, the flow of money to and from different mutual fund categories (e.g., equities vs. money funds) increasingly reflects the sentiment or risk aversion of the general population. In this study, we analyze flows between different categories of mutual funds, and find strong evidence of a seasonality in risk aversion of individual investors. Specifically, we find that aggregate investor flow data reveals an investor preference for U.S. money market and government bond mutual funds in the autumn, and equity funds in the spring, controlling for the influence of seasonality in past performance, advertising, liquidity needs, and capital gains overhang on fund flows. This movement of large amounts of money between fund categories is correlated with a proxy for variation in investor risk aversion across the seasons, consistent with investors' revealed preferences for safer investments in the fall, and riskier investments in the spring. We find similar evidence in Canadian mutual fund flows, and in flows among Australian funds, where the seasons are six months out of phase relative to Canada and the U.S. While prior evidence regarding the influence of seasonally changing risk aversion on financial markets relies on seasonal patterns in asset returns, we provide the first direct trade-related evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Kamstra, Mark J. & Kramer, Lisa A. & Levi, Maurice D. & Wermers, Russ, 2013. "Seasonal asset allocation: Evidence from mutual fund flows," CFR Working Papers 13-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfrwps:1309
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    3. Dariusz Filip, 2021. "A Review of Main Strands on the Flow-Performance Relationship of Mutual Funds," Athens Journal of Business & Economics, Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), vol. 7(3), pages 245-256, July.
    4. Lee, Deok-Hyeon & Min, Byoung-Kyu & Xiao, Yuchao, 2020. "Testing the mood seasonality hypothesis: Evidence from down under," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    5. Heo, Wookjae & Grable, John E. & Rabbani, Abed G., 2018. "A test of the relevant association between utility theory and subjective risk tolerance: Introducing the Profit-to-Willingness ratio," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 84-88.
    6. Hirshleifer, David & Jiang, Danling & DiGiovanni, Yuting Meng, 2020. "Mood beta and seasonalities in stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 272-295.
    7. Wang, Albert Y. & Young, Michael, 2020. "Terrorist attacks and investor risk preference: Evidence from mutual fund flows," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(2), pages 491-514.
    8. Uddin, Gazi Salah & Arreola Hernandez, Jose & Labidi, Chiraz & Troster, Victor & Yoon, Seong-Min, 2019. "The impact of financial and economic factors on Islamic mutual fund performance: Evidence from multiple fund categories," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 52.
    9. Hasso, Tim & Pelster, Matthias & Breitmayer, Bastian, 2020. "Terror attacks and individual investor behavior: Evidence from the 2015–2017 European terror attacks," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C).
    10. Hyung-Suk Choi & Doojin Ryu & Sangik Seok, 2017. "The turn-of-the-year effect in mutual fund flows," Risk Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 19(2), pages 131-157, May.
    11. Adam Zaremba & Jacob Koby Shemer, 2018. "Price-Based Investment Strategies," Springer Books, Springer, number 978-3-319-91530-2, September.
    12. Kliger, Doron & Qadan, Mahmoud, 2019. "The High Holidays: Psychological mechanisms of honesty in real-life financial decisions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 121-137.
    13. Krishnamurthy, Srinivasan & Pelletier, Denis & Warr, Richard S., 2018. "Inflation and equity mutual fund flows," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 52-69.
    14. Yang Song, 2020. "The Mismatch Between Mutual Fund Scale and Skill," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 75(5), pages 2555-2589, October.
    15. Brown, Stephen J. & Sotes-Paladino, Juan & Wang, Jiaguo(George) & Yao, Yaqiong, 2017. "Starting on the wrong foot: Seasonality in mutual fund performance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 133-150.
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    17. Shafi, Kourosh & Mohammadi, Ali, 2020. "Too gloomy to invest: Weather-induced mood and crowdfunding," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    time-varying risk aversion; sentiment; mutual fund ow seasonality; net exchanges; net ows; risk tolerance; risk aversion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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