Optimal Compensation for Fund Managers of Uncertain Type: Informational Advantages of Bonus Schemes

44 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2008

See all articles by Alexander Stremme

Alexander Stremme

University of Warwick - Finance Group

Date Written: October 1999


Performance-sensitivity of compensation schemes for portfolio managers is well explained by classic principal-agent theory as a device to provide incentives for managers to exert effort or bear the cost of acquiring information. However, the majority of compensation packages observed in reality display in addition a fair amount of convexity in the form of performance-related bonus schemes. While convex contracts may be explained by principal-agent theory in some rather specific situations, they have been criticized, both by the financial press as well as the academic literature, on thegrounds that they may lead to excessive risk-taking. In this paper, we show that convex compensation packages, though likely to be myopically not optimal, may serve as adevice to extract information about the ex-ante uncertain type of portfolio managers.Optimal contracts are thus determined by the trade-off between maximizing short-runexpected returns on one hand, and long-run informational benefits on the other. Ina discrete-time model, combining dynamic principal-agent theory with the theory oflearning by experimentation, we characterize optimal incentive schemes and optimal retention rules for fund managers, consistent with empirical observations.

Keywords: Fund Manager Compensation, Portfolio Choice, Asymmetric Information, Learning by Experimentation

Suggested Citation

Stremme, Alexander, Optimal Compensation for Fund Managers of Uncertain Type: Informational Advantages of Bonus Schemes (October 1999). NYU Working Paper No. FIN-99-029, WBS Finance Group Research Paper No. 105, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1297109 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1297109

Alexander Stremme (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Finance Group ( email )

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