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The Misguided Beliefs of Financial Advisors

Abstract

A common view of retail finance is that conflicts of interest contribute to the high cost of advice. Using detailed data on financial advisors and their clients, however, we show that most advisors invest their personal portfolios just like they advise their clients. They trade frequently, prefer expensive, actively managed funds, chase returns, and under-diversify. Differences in advisors' beliefs affect not only their own investment choices, but also cause substantial variation in the quality and cost of their advice. Advisors do not hold expensive portfolios only to convince clients to do the same---their own performance would actually improve if they held exact copies of their clients' portfolios, and they trade similarly even after they leave the industry. These results suggest that many advisors offer well-meaning, but misguided, recommendations rather than self-serving ones. Policies aimed at resolving conflicts of interest between advisors and clients do not address this problem.

Type

Working Paper

Author(s)

Juhani Linnainmaa, Brian Melzer, Alessandro Previtero

Date Published

2016

Citations

Linnainmaa, Juhani, Brian Melzer, and Alessandro Previtero. 2016. The Misguided Beliefs of Financial Advisors.

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