The Persistence of Fee Dispersion among Mutual Funds
52 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009 Last revised: 23 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 22, 2020
Previous work shows large differences in fees for S&P 500 index funds and other funds, and suggests that investors suffer wealth losses investing in high-fee funds when similar low-fee funds are available. In contrast, the neoclassical model of mutual funds (Berk and van Binsbergen, 2015) argues that percentage fees are irrelevant, as fund size will adjust in equilibrium such that net alphas are equal to zero. We show that fees matter from an investor perspective. We document (a) a strong negative association between net-of-fee fund performance and fees in a sample of all US and international equity funds, (b) economically large, robust, persistent, and pervasive fee dispersion in the mutual fund industry, and (c) important economic effects for investors. During the sample period, the mutual fund industry has generated a total value lost (i.e., a negative net value added) of 125 billion USD, coming predominantly from high-fee funds.
Keywords: Mutual Funds, Fund Fees, Price Dispersion, Price Persistence
JEL Classification: G10, G11, G23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation