Article | Journal of Finance | October 2009

Attracting Flows by Attracting Big Clients

by Lauren Cohen and Breno Schmidt


We explore a new channel for attracting inflows using a unique dataset of corporate 401(k) retirement plans and their mutual fund family trustees. Families secure substantial inflows by being named the trustee of a 401(k) plan. We find that family trustees significantly overweight their 401(k) client firm's stock. Trustee overweighting is more pronounced when the relationship is more valuable to the trustee family, and it is concentrated in those funds that receive the greatest benefit from the inflows. When other mutual funds are selling the client firm's stock, the trustee does the opposite and significantly increases its holdings of the client. This overweighting is not explained by superior information. We also quantify the flow benefit to the trustee mutual funds of being included in the client firm's 401(k) plan and find that this inclusion has an economically and statistically large, positive effect on inflows.

Keywords: Value; Information; Investment Funds; Stocks; Relationships; Financial Services Industry;


Cohen, Lauren, and Breno Schmidt. "Attracting Flows by Attracting Big Clients." Journal of Finance 64, no. 5 (October 2009): 2125–2151. (Winner of the Barclays Global Investors Best Paper Prize, Asset Allocation Symposium, European Finance Association 2006. Winner of the Society of Quantitative Analysts Award, Best Paper in Quantitative Investments, Western Finance Association 2007.)