Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives
This paper examines the agency conflict between mutual fund investors and mutual fund companies. Investors would like the fund company to use its judgement to maximize risk-adjusted fund returns. A fund company, however, in its desire to maximize its value as a concern has an incentive to take actions which increase the inflow of investment. We use a semiparametric model to estimate the shape of the flow-performance relationship for a sample of growth and growth and income funds observed over the 1982-1992 period. The shape of the flow-performance relationship creates incentives for fund managers to increase or decrease the riskiness of the fund which are dependent on the fund's year-to-date return. Using a new dataset of mutual fund portfolios which includes equity portfolio holdings for September and December of the same year, we show that mutual funds do alter their portfolio riskiness between September and December in a manner consistent with these risk incentives.
Published: Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 105, no.6 (1997): 1167-1200.