Do Index Funds Monitor?
Accepted, Review of Financial Studies
75 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2018 Last revised: 8 Aug 2021
Date Written: November 4, 2020
Passively managed index funds now hold over 30% of U.S. equity fund assets; this shift raises fundamental questions about monitoring and governance. We show that, relative to active funds, index funds are less effective monitors: (a) they are less likely to vote against firm management on contentious governance issues; (b) there is no evidence they engage effectively publicly or privately; and (c) they promote less board independence and worse pay-performance sensitivity at their portfolio companies. Overall, the rise of index funds decreases the alignment of incentives between beneficial owners and firm management and shifts control from investors to managers.
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Passive Investing, Index Investing, Exit, Monitoring, Voting
JEL Classification: G12, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation