The Best Mutual Fund Managers: Testing the Impact of Experience Using a Survivorship Bias Free Dataset

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Published by Financial Management Association in the Journal of Applied Finance, volume 22 issue 1, 2012. Bryant users may access this article here.


Financial Management Association


This study uses a survivorship-bias free dataset spanning more than 80years to identify the best mutual fund managers having tenure of ten years or more. We also examine the relationship between performance and tenure in a sample of 289 solo managers of 355 actively managed funds within the nine Morningstar styles. We find an inverse relationship between average annual returns and tenure, even after controlling for structural changes in mutual fund returns after 1996. The managers who survived more than ten years were likely to have performed at or above the market in their first three years, while their peers who did not survive as solo managers beyond three years significantly underperformed the market. Finally, while each of the very best managers generated positive compound annual market-adjusted returns following their first three years, the majority were not able to maintain their early levels of performance. This evidence is not indicative of a positive relationship between experience and performance.