“Mutual Fund Flows, Performance Persistence, and Manager Skill” by Yan WANG
Chinese University of Hong Kong
This paper adapts the model of Berk and Green (2004) to explain with reasonable success the data on mutual fund returns and flows. Using a Bayesian measure of fund-manager skill that controls for fund flows, I find that posterior estimates of skill vary substantially in the cross section and that perceived differences in ability persist through time. Consistent with the model, fund flows respond in a convex manner to investors posterior updates of manager skill scaled by functions of the expense ratio, and this result is robust after including a convex function of past performance. While cross-sectional variation in posterior skill estimates has predictive power for out-of-sample subsequent fund performance, such predictability is present only in the short run. Beyond one year, high-skilled managers do not consistently out-perform low-skilled managers as skill-chasing fund flows equalize the realized abnormal fund returns across managers. Outside of the model, I show that the cross-sectional distribution of managerial ability is related to fund style and managerial compensation in a way that is consistent with matching the managerial productivity to the nature of the underlying portfolio.