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Quality and Product Differentiation: Theory and Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry

Abstract : We study product differentiation in the mutual fund industry. We design a model in which funds with heterogeneous perceived quality can choose their level of product differentiation. In equilibrium, high quality funds choose broad market designs (i.e., low differentiation) appealing to many investors, while low quality funds adopt niche designs (i.e., high differentiation) that investors either love or loath. Using as a measure of fund differentiation the degree of textual uniqueness of investment strategy description in fund prospectuses, we confirm empirically that funds with lower expected performance tend to differentiate more. We use the issuance of Morningstar rating to previously unrated funds as an exogenous shock to perceived quality to identify the economic mechanism. We find that funds receiving a low rating increase their product differentiation. The effect is mainly concentrated on funds run by small management companies, a feature associated with lower performance. This increase in product differentiation makes funds more likely to survive. It also has a market-level impact on the menu of funds available to investors.
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
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Contributor : Antoine Haldemann Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, December 23, 2021 - 4:23:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, December 24, 2021 - 3:27:47 AM





Maxime Bonelli, Anastasia Buyalskaya, Tianhao yao. Quality and Product Differentiation: Theory and Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry. 2021. ⟨hal-03501744⟩



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