Economics at your fingertips  

Impacts of Conflicts of Interest in the Financial Services Industry

Jeremy Burke, Angela Hung, Jack Clift, Steven Garber and Joanne Yoong

No WR-1076, Working Papers from RAND Corporation

Abstract: Americans are increasingly being asked to take responsibility for their own retirement security. However, many people are ill-equipped to make financial decisions and have turned to professional financial advisors for help. While financial advisors often provide valuable services, it can be difficult for individual investors to evaluate the advice they receive and to identify when it has been influenced by a conflict of interest. In this literature review, we examine if and how financial advisors are influenced by their compensation schemes and how this influence impacts retail investors' financial well-being. We find empirical evidence suggesting that financial advisors act opportunistically to the detriment of their clients. However, the current body of literature generally cannot account for selection issues and the intangible benefits financial advisors provide. In our broader review of conflicts of interest in the financial services industry, we find considerable evidence that investment analysts were excessively optimistic prior to regulation seeking to mitigate bias. There is mixed evidence on how this excessive optimism impacted investors, though the literature generally concludes that retail investors were more acutely impacted, as compared to institutional investors. We also find evidence that conflicts of interest extend to mutual fund management, with actively managed funds imposing sizeable trading costs and brokerage commissions which are not easily observed by retail investors. Regulation and disclosure are often suggested methods for reducing bias. We find evidence that regulation designed to mitigate conflicts of interest can help reduce the prevalence of biased advice, but regulation that penalizes bad advice may be less effective because bias may be unconscious. Disclosure is unlikely to be an effective strategy if employed in isolation, but may be an important part of a comprehensive mitigation strategy.

Pages: 66 pages
Date: 2015-05
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) ... 1076/RAND_WR1076.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Working Papers from RAND Corporation Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Benson Wong ().

Page updated 2022-06-11
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:wr-1076