Flows and Performance with Optimal Money Management Contracts
94 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2019 Last revised: 3 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 4, 2019
Previous literature documents that mutual funds' flows increase more than linearly with realized performance. I show this convex flow-performance relationship is consistent with a dynamic contracting model in which investors learn about the fund manager's skill. My model predicts that flows become more sensitive to current performance after a history of good past performance. It also predicts that the effect of past performance on the current flow-performance relationship is weaker for managers with longer tenure. I consider an optimal incentive contract for money managers, and I provide an explanation for common compensation practices in the industry, such as convex pay-for-performance schemes and deferred compensation. In the optimal contract, flows become more sensitive to performance when the manager faces stronger incentives from the compensation contract. With learning, the manager's incentives become stronger after good performance, so that a manager exerts more effort when his assessed skill is higher. However, the relation between past performance and incentives becomes weaker over the manager's tenure. Using mutual fund data, I test the predictions of the model on the dynamic behavior of the flow-performance relationship, and I find empirical support for the theory.
Keywords: Mutual funds, flows, performance, compensation, optimal contract, dynamic contracting
JEL Classification: G11, G23, J33, D86, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation