Cash Holdings and Mutual Fund Performance

Review of Finance, Forthcoming

AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper

52 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2009 Last revised: 8 Jul 2013

See all articles by Mikhail Simutin

Mikhail Simutin

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Date Written: July 8, 2013


Cash holdings of equity mutual funds impose a drag on fund performance but also allow managers to make quick investments in attractive stocks and satisfy outflows without costly fire sales. This paper shows that actively managed equity funds with high excess cash -- that is, with cash holdings in excess of the level predicted by fund attributes -- outperform their low excess cash peers by over 2% per year. Managers carrying high excess cash compensate for the low return on cash by making superior stock selection decisions, whereas less capable managers find excess cash costly and remain more fully invested in equities. Managers of high excess cash funds also proficiently satisfy fund outflows and control fund transaction costs, while low excess cash funds lack flexibility to cover outflows and can suffer from costly fire sales. The empirical evidence suggests that managers carrying excess cash benefit from the flexibility it provides despite the costs of holding cash.

Keywords: Mutual fund, cash holdings, fund liquidity, fire sales, stock selection skills

JEL Classification: G12

Suggested Citation

Simutin, Mikhail, Cash Holdings and Mutual Fund Performance (July 8, 2013). Review of Finance, Forthcoming, AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Mikhail Simutin (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4


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