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Rating:Do Fund Investors Really Favor Male Managers? Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, April 04, 2003

Do Fund Investors Really Favor Male Managers?

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Do mutual fund investors favor funds in which men run the money? That is one implication of a study published in the Journal of Financial Research this week. Three academics at the University of Central Florida in Orlando looked specifically at assets in fixed income funds that had been in existence for at least five years.

They found that funds featuring female portfolio managers had fewer assets than funds run by males. They found the largest disparity in funds that were less than one-year old. Yet, there may be less to the study than meets the eye (or headlines).

The professors designed the study to examine whether performance in funds differed based on the gender of the portfolio manager. As they postulated, they found none. The discovery of the different sizes of funds depending on the gender of the portfolio manager came at the end of the research and the paper offers no explanation of the apparent bias. Nor does it offer insight on whether the bias is an artifact of the study methodology.

If the bias does exist, one explanation may be that fund firms better market funds managed by men than they do funds managed by women. That seems to make little sense, though. Another explanation may be that funds with better distribution networks already in place are more likely to promote men as portfolio managers. Or conversely, that boutique shops with little clout are more likely to take a chance on a woman.

Women manage a relative handful of fixed income funds -- to be exact the professors found that they manage just 72 of 1,294 funds in the study.

The story of Joan Payden, who won her job as a portfolio manager at Payden Rygel by founding the firm, may bolster the hypothesis that women have a clearer shot to manage money at smaller shops, or those that they have founded themselves. Those funds, by definition, have less clout with distributors and fewer marketing dollars to get the word out.

Indeed, Pioneer Investments' Margaret Patel, manager of the $5.2 billion Pioneer High Yield Fund, said she saw no problems attracting assets into that fund. Pioneer, of course, is one of the nation's largest fund distributors. 

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