What is in a name? Quite a lot, according to a University of Miami study that found tthe names of mutual fund managers impact investor choices.
The University of Miami School of Business Administration found that American investors were less likely to invest in mutual funds that have managers with foreign-sounding names, researchers said in a Monday press release. The study, to be published in The Review of Financial Studies, found that annual fund flows were 10 percent lower for funds managed by someone with a foreign-sounding name compared to funds managed by someone with a more familiar American name, amounting to an annual estimated annual loss of $133,000 per $195 million under management.
"We know that people consciously or sub-consciously assign attributes to a person when they hear their name – President Obama said it well when he joked that he got his middle name, Hussein, from someone who clearly didn't know he'd ever run for president," lead researcher Alok Kumar, University of Miami Gabelli Asset Management professor of finance, said. "Our study suggests that if Barack Obama was a fund manager his name could cost his fund more than $100,000 this year."
The researchers used a dataset of the names of 6,000 fund managers who managed an active U.S. equity fund between 1993 and 2011. They then asked a random sample of 150 U.S. residents to evaluate the names and offer which names sounded foreign to them. They then used statistical tools to show that annual fund flows were lower for funds managed by someone with a name perceived as foreign.