The Economic Impact of Distributing Financial Products on Third-Party Online Platforms
59 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 25, 2019
The emergence of third-party online platforms in inter-mediating financial products has been a new and exciting development in FinTech. In China, the platforms are allowed to distribute mutual funds since 2012, and have quickly grown into a formidable presence. Examining the economic impact of this new distributional channel, we use the staggered entrance of mutual funds onto the platforms to identify the casual effect of online platforms on the behaviors of fund investors and fund managers. We find that, post-platform, fund flows become markedly more sensitive to fund performance. The net flow to the top 10% performing funds more than triples their pre-platform level, and this pattern of increased performance sensitivity is further confirmed using private data from Howbuy, a top-five platform in China. Consistent with the added incentive of becoming a top ranking performer in the era of large-scale platforms, we find that fund managers increase their risk taking to enhance the probability of getting into the top rank. Meanwhile, the organization structure of large fund families weakens as the introduction of platforms levels the playing field for all funds.
Keywords: Mutual Funds, FinTech, Platforms, Flows, Incentives
JEL Classification: D14, G11, G14, L11, L23
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