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Keywords:

  • pension funds;
  • tournaments;
  • investment management;
  • social investing

Abstract:  This paper explores the relationship between the tournament incentives of pension fund managers and the characteristics of equities they choose to hold. Using a comprehensive data set on pension fund portfolio holdings, we determine the intensity of fund manager tournaments by sorting pension funds into portfolios based on the number of concurrent managers each pension fund employs. We then investigate which corporate characteristics are preferred by each of these portfolios by estimating share selection models that include a range of corporate characteristics that are expected to shape the returns to investment in stocks over the short and long run. We find that the intensity of the tournament faced by fund managers plays a significant role in shaping preferences over corporate characteristics. Managers facing more intense tournaments exhibit significantly weaker preferences for attributes associated with long run payoffs, such as social performance and growth potential, and significantly stronger preferences for short term attributes, such as operational efficiency, when compared to managers that face weak or no tournament incentives.