Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Birdthistle on Mutual Fund Industry

Compensating Power: An Analysis of Rents and Rewards in the Mutual Fund Industry, by WILLIAM A. BIRDTHISTLE, Chicago-Kent College of Law, was recently posted on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:


The allegations of malfeasance in the investment management industry - market timing, late trading, revenue sharing, and several others - involve a broad range of mutual fund operations. This Article seeks to explain the common source of these irregularities by focusing upon a trait they share: the practice of investment advisers' capitalizing upon their managerial influence to increase assets under management in order to generate greater fees from those assets.

This Article extends theories of executive compensation into the context of investment management to understand the extraction of rents by mutual fund advisers. Investment advisers, as collective groups of portfolio managers, interact with the boards of trustees of mutual funds in ways analogous to the dealings of business executives with corporate boards of directors. In this setting, the managerial power hypothesis of executive compensation provides a useful paradigm for understanding distortions in arm's-length bargaining between investment advisers and fund boards, as well as limitations of the market's ability to ensure optimal contracting between those parties.

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