The Economic Impact of Distributing Financial Products on Third-Party Online Platforms

Claire Yurong Hong, Xiaomeng Lu, Jun Pan

NBER Working Paper No. 26576
Issued in December 2019
NBER Program(s):Asset Pricing

The emergence of third-party online platforms in intermediating financial products has been a new and exciting development in FinTech. In China, the platforms are allowed to distribute mutual funds since 2012, and have quickly grown into a formidable presence. Examining the economic impact of this new distributional channel, we use the staggered entrance of mutual funds onto the platforms to identify the casual effect of online platforms on the behaviors of fund investors and fund managers. We find that, post-platform, fund flows become markedly more sensitive to fund performance. The net flow to the top 10% performing funds more than triples their pre-platform level, and this pattern of increased performance sensitivity is further confirmed using private data from Howbuy, a top-five platform in China. Consistent with the added incentive of becoming a top ranking performer in the era of large-scale platforms, we find that fund managers increase their risk taking to enhance the probability of getting into the top rank. Meanwhile, the organization structure of large fund families weakens as the introduction of platforms levels the playing field for all funds.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26576

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us