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Investor learning and mutual fund flows

Jennifer Huang, Kelsey D. Wei and Hong Yan ()

Financial Management, 2022, vol. 51, issue 3, 739-765

Abstract: This paper investigates how volatility of performance affects the sensitivity of mutual fund flows to past performance, and examines how investor learning may contribute to this effect. We illustrate theoretically that when sophisticated investors learn from past fund performance to form their posterior expectations of managerial ability, the flow‐performance sensitivity should be weaker for funds with more volatile past performance. Moreover, the dampening effect of performance volatility on the flow‐performance sensitivity should be stronger for funds attracting more sophisticated investors. We provide supporting evidence for this investor learning hypothesis using mutual fund flows and demonstrate variations in the volatility dampening effect across funds with differing levels of sophistication among investors, such as load versus no‐load, high‐expense versus low‐expense, retail versus institutional, and star versus nonstar funds.

Date: 2022
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