Do Investment Consultants’ Recommendations Add Value? Nope.

Do Investment Consultants’ Recommendations Add Value? Nope.

September 15, 2016 Research Insights
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Just got done perusing the latest issue of the Journal of Finance . As is the typical case, 50% of the articles can be read if you have a PhD in math, but the other 50% are readable. Kinda.

Here is a really surprising one: Investment consultant recommendations are effectively worthless, on average.

Similar to the retail advisory space, the institutional consultant service providers likely add value via their role as a money doctor, not in their role as a “manager picker.”

Picking Winners? Investment Consultants’ Recommendations of Fund Managers

Investment consultants advise institutional investors on their choice of fund manager. Focusing on U.S. actively managed equity funds, we analyze the factors that drive consultants’ recommendations, what impact these recommendations have on flows, and how well the recommended funds perform. We find that investment consultants’ recommendations of funds are driven largely by soft factors, rather than the funds’ past performance, and that their recommendations have a very significant effect on fund flows. However, we find no evidence that these recommendations add value, suggesting that the search for winners, encouraged and guided by investment consultants, is fruitless.

Here is the key table from the paper highlighting that the spread in performance between recommended and not-recommended funds is flat, and arguably negative if you equal-weight the recommendations.

The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.
The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.

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About the Author

Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.

After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray received a PhD, and was a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in entrepreneurship and behavioral finance led him to found Alpha Architect. Dr. Gray has published three books: EMBEDDED: A Marine Corps Adviser Inside the Iraqi Army, QUANTITATIVE VALUE: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors, and DIY FINANCIAL ADVISOR: A Simple Solution to Build and Protect Your Wealth. His numerous published works has been highlighted on CBNC, CNN, NPR, Motley Fool, WSJ Market Watch, CFA Institute, Institutional Investor, and CBS News. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.