Do money managers outperform their respective benchmark? Evidence from South African Unit Trust industry
Motivated by the growing attraction of the mutual fund industries across the world, this research seeks to explore the economic benefits contributed by the South African equity unit trust managers over the period from 1 January 2002 to 2 September 2012. The performance is examined over two sub-periods and the overall examination period, where the first sub-period captures the performance of the unit trusts before the 2007/2008 global financial crisis and the second sub-period captures the devastation in performance of the unit trusts after the crisis. Active fund managers are usually presumed to possess superior abilities in asset allocation, security selection and market timing that assist them to consistently generate abnormal returns on a risk-adjusted basis. This research attempts to test this claim by making a distinction in performance attribution between returns generated as a result of managerial skills and those generated as a result of random chance. The study emerges by first examining the risk-adjusted performance of the South African unit trust managers against the performance of a broad market index proxied by FTSE/JSE All Share Index (ALSI). Six different risk-adjusted performance measures are employed for this purpose. Regardless of the different applications of risk parameters employed by each performance measure, the results reveal that on average, most of the South African unit trust managers do not outperform the market on a consistent basis. The majority of the unit trust managers show good performance during the first sub-period, with subsequent inferiority in performance during the second sub-period. The study further examines the performance of the South African unit trust managers relative to the pre-specified sector benchmarks constructed by following a set of performance attribution techniques proposed by Yu (2008) and Hsieh (2010). The objective of this test is to determine whether the equity unit trust managers are able to create value through their security selection skill in addition to their asset allocation decisions. Consistent with international evidence, the results reveal that returns generated by South African unit trusts are driven mainly by asset allocation activities and stock picking of asset managers do not add significant value. In addition, test results also indicate that South African equity unit trust managers are not good at managing risk as the majority of the unit trusts exhibit higher standard deviation compared to their benchmarks. Furthermore, the study examines the economic value contribution of the South African equity unit trust managers through their market timing activities. In particular, the study attempts to determine whether or not unit trust managers possess the ability to correctly anticipate future market movements. To achieve this, two market timing performance models developed by Treynor-Mazuy (1966) and Henrikson-Merton (1981) are employed. The results reveal that, regardless of the changes in market conditions, South African equity unit trust mangers delivered significantly inferior timing performance in both sub-periods and the overall examination periods that actually destroyed fund values. The paper concludes by stating that investors are better off by investing in cost-effective passive investment vehicles such as exchange traded funds (ETF's).