Working Papers

The Company You Keep: Investment Manager Clientele and Mutual Fund Performance 


This paper examines how the composition of an investment adviser’s client base (identified via Form ADV filings) relates to the performance of its mutual funds. Investment advisers catering to institutional clients realize statistically and economically superior risk-adjusted mutual fund performance relative to retail-oriented advisers. The findings are consistent with the empirical predictions of the Gârleanu and Pedersen (2018) model for asset management markets. The results suggest that institutional clients can identify differences in investment manager skill, particularly in market segments where retail mutual fund investors face higher search costs.


  • University of San Diego, University of Central Florida, Northern Illinois University, University of Kansas, Rochester Institute of Technology, Marquette University, University of Arizona, Midwest Finance Association Annual Meeting 2018, Financial Management Association Annual Meeting Special Ph.D. Paper Presentations 2017Financial Management Association Doctoral Consortium 2017

Quantitative Investing and Market Instability

(with Jonathan Brogaard and Austin Hill-Kleespie)


The May 2010 Flash Crash and August 2007 Quant Meltdown raised concerns about the impact of quantitative investment strategies on market stability. Theory is split on whether quantitative investing dampens or exacerbates market instability. To test the theory we focus on mutual fund fire sales. We find that quantitative fund fire sales have a much larger impact on market instability than fire sales by traditional mutual funds. For the same magnitude fire sale, quantitative funds’ impact is over five times as large. The evidence suggests this is due to quantitative funds’ reliance on similar trading signals and sensitivity to the time-series of returns.


  • Financial Management Association Annual Meeting 2019 (scheduled)

Retirement Plan Conflicts of Interest in Mutual Fund Management


Form ADV regulatory disclosures made by mutual fund management firms indicate that nearly one-third of investment advisers to mutual funds offer pension consulting services to defined contribution plans. This practice presents inherent conflicts of interest and allows for the adviser’s mutual funds to be recommended by adviser personnel to defined contribution clients (e.g., 401(k) plans). I find that this conflict of interest materially affects the portfolio management of the conflicted adviser’s funds. Equity mutual funds managed by advisers with retirement plan conflicts of interest exhibit widespread underperformance and are actively managed to a significantly lesser extent. The magnitude of underperformance is more pronounced for target date mutual funds.


  • Midwest Finance Association Annual Meeting 2019, American Finance Association Ph.D. Poster Session 2019, Financial Management Association Annual Meeting 2018 

Pay to Play in Investment Management (with Thuong Harvison)


From 2001 to 2016, using the population of all investment advisory firms registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), we document that the presence of government clients (e.g., public pension plans) for an investment advisory firm is strongly associated with past owner and officer contributions to state government officials. To help establish a causal link, we use the adoption of the SEC’s pay to play rules for investment advisors in 2011. Post implementation of the SEC’s pay to play rules, we find that this relationship weakens considerably. Further consistent with a pay to play explanation, the results are driven by advisors whose political contributions are made by senior officers likely to be involved in capital raising for the firm including CEOs, owners/partners, and sales executives. The results are most pronounced for advisors offering pension consulting services, advisors catering to institutional accounts (e.g., institutional asset managers), and advisory firms headquartered in states with a high concentration of public pension plans and a culture of political corruption.



  • 14th Annual California Corporate Finance Conference at Loyola Marymount University 

Work In Progress

Mutual Fund Advisor Connections and Portfolio Choice  (with Luke DeVault)

The Impact of Non-Mutual Fund Clientele on Mutual Fund Tax Efficiency (with Alice Liu)

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