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Index Fund Entry and Financial Product Market Competition

Yang Sun ()
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Yang Sun: International Business School, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02453

Management Science, 2021, vol. 67, issue 1, 500-523

Abstract: The active money management industry is characterized by both strong competitive pressure from passive investment vehicles and high fees. This paper investigates how the introduction of low-cost index funds affects fund company strategies. The retail mutual fund market is segmented, where unsophisticated investors rely on financial advisers and sophisticated ones invest directly. Exploiting the staggered entry of low-cost Vanguard index funds as competitive shocks, I show that, in response to competition, incumbents sold to self-directed investors reduce their fees by 5% of the mean; however, funds sold with broker recommendations increase their fees by 6% of the mean. Index fund entry also slows the growth of actively managed funds. The responsiveness of broker-sold fund flows to distribution fees increases, suggesting a shift in composition toward less elastic consumers. Further, incumbents increase the degree of active management. The results illustrate why mutual fund fees slowly decline in the aggregate despite competition from lower-cost alternatives.

Keywords: index fund competition; active management; financial innovation; financial advice; market segmentation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2019.3444 (application/pdf)

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