We analyze the relation between investment returns and performance fees for 218 Dutch occupational pension funds with an average total of 985 billion euro in assets under management from 2012 to 2015. Our dataset is free from self-reporting biases and includes total return, excess return and performance fees for six major asset classes. We find no statistical evidence that the returns of pension funds that pay performance fees to asset managers for active investing are significantly higher or lower than the returns of pension funds that do not pay performance fees. This is true for most asset classes and robust if we correct for risk and persistence in asset class returns. We also document that large and more specialized pension funds pay less performance fees for a given level of excess return in alternative asset classes such as hedge funds and private equity. This is possibly the result of better negotiation power due to their larger scale or higher level of expertise.
Keywords: pension funds, asset management, performance fees, investment costs.
JEL classifications: G11, G12, G23. Working paper no. 561