At its 30th annual investment conference in Chicago, Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, today published its annual study of investor returns, “Mind the Gap,” which measures the performance of the average dollar invested in a fund and estimates the impact investor behavior had on investment outcomes. Overall, the study shows that the gap between U.S. open-end funds’ reported total returns and the returns experienced by investors narrowed to 0.26 percent per year over the decade ended March 31, 2018.
The “Mind the Gap” study leverages the proprietary Morningstar® Investor Returns™ data point, which estimates a fund’s dollar-weighted return by incorporating the effect of cash inflows and outflows from investors’ purchases and sales, as well as the change in a fund’s assets.
The “gap” refers to the difference between funds’ dollar-weighted and time-weighted returns, reflecting how opportunely investors timed their investments.
“Investors tend to buy high or sell low when markets are volatile, potentially missing out on a fund’s gain. However, with the last bear market far in the rear-view mirror, investors’ steady investment contributions over the last 10 years appear to have paid off,” said Russel Kinnel, chair of Morningstar’s North America ratings committee and editor of Morningstar® FundInvestorSM. “Similar to last year’s Mind the Gap study, we found that investors have largely succeeded in using balanced funds, such as target-date funds, where the behavior gap was narrow. On the flipside, investors fared poorly with alternative funds, which had the worst dollar-weighted returns, reflecting the funds’ generally lousy performance.”
Key highlights of the study include:
The average dollar invested in open-end funds gained 5.5 percent per year over the 10 years ended March 31, 2018, while the average fund returned 5.9 percent. This is the narrowest gap recorded since the first issue of this study in 2005.
In comparing the 5.5 percent per year dollar-weighted return against the 6.9 percent annualized asset-weighted average return of all funds, the gap grows to 1.4 percent per year for all funds over the 10 years ended March 31, 2018.
The gap narrowed for the typical investor in diversified domestic-equity funds; they earned an 8.3 percent dollar-weighted annualized return for the 10 years ended March 31, 2018. Compared with the average fund’s 8.9 percent annual reported return, the 0.61 percent per year shortfall is a modest improvement over the previous report, which ran through December 2016.
Balanced funds—which include allocation funds, target-date funds, and traditional balanced funds—saw a positive gap of 0.30 percentage points annually for the decade ended March 31, 2018, with the average dollar gaining 5.9 percent per year. This improvement reflects the continued strength of target-date funds, both in terms of investor behavior and strong gains among well-diversified funds.
While the gap for municipal-bond funds shrank to 1.3 percentage points per year, it still represents more than a third of the returns the average fund earned over this span, reflecting the impact of media headlines such as the Puerto Rico debt crisis.
The gap widened in some asset classes, including international equity and taxable bond. Regional funds dedicated to European and Asian stocks saw wide behavior gaps, as did funds in the Foreign Large Growth category, suggesting investors struggled to use these investments successfully.
Alternatives funds had the worst dollar-weighted returns, a dismal nine basis points annually over 10 years. Remarkably, this was still nearly 140 positive basis points per year better than the average alternative fund’s 1.3 percent reported annual loss.
The five-year investor return gaps are generally much narrower than the 10-year numbers. In fact, the average dollar invested in U.S. open-end funds returned 7.0 percent per year, outgaining the average fund which earned 6.6 percent annually.
It’s important to note that estimates of the behavior gap can be sensitive to the inputs. For instance, if comparing funds’ aggregate dollar-weighted returns to their asset-weighted—instead of equal-weighted—average total returns, the calculation can yield a materially different estimate of the behavior gap. Given this, the behavior gap should be viewed as a range of potential shortfall or surplus investors experienced with their fund investments in aggregate over a given time period.
The “Mind the Gap” study is available here and an article summarizing the findings is available on Morningstar.com® here. The U.S. investor returns study is available in the June 2018 issue of Morningstar FundInvestor.
Morningstar has approximately 120 manager research analysts worldwide who cover approximately 4,500 funds. The company provides data on approximately 233,200 open-end mutual funds, 11,100 closed-end funds, and 15,000 exchange-traded product listings as of March 31, 2018.
About Morningstar, Inc.
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and institutional investors in the private capital markets. Morningstar provides data and research insights on a wide range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, and real-time global market data. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with more than $201 billion in assets under advisement and management as of March 31, 2018. The company has operations in 27 countries.
Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19
Organizations in the Middle East have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as shifting to remote and virtual work, implementing new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. According to Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Middle East Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” organizations now need to think about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture.
“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce. Organizations that expand their focus on worker well-being, from programs adjacent to work to designing well-being into the work itself, will help their workers not only feel their best but perform at their best. Doing so will strengthen the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes, drive meaningful work, and foster a greater sense of belonging overall,” said Ghassan Turqieh, Consulting Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East.
According to the Deloitte report, many organizations in the Middle East made quick arrangements to engage with employees in the wake of the pandemic through frequent communications, multiple webinars where senior leaders addressed employee concerns, virtual employee events, manager check-ins, periodic calls and other targeted interactions with the workforce.
The report also discussed how UAE and KSA governments have reexamined work policies and practices, amended regulations and introduced COVID-19 initiatives to support companies and the workforce in the public and private sectors. Flexible and remote working, team-building and engagement activities, well-ness programs, recognition awards and modern workspaces are among the many things that are now adding to the employee experience.
Key findings from the Deloitte global report include:
- Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;
- 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;
- Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and
- Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Worker well-being is a top priority today, and similarly to the rest of the world, companies in the Middle East are focusing their efforts to redesign work around well-being by understanding workforce well-being needs,” said Rania Abu Shukur, Director, Human Capital, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.
One in five insurance customers saw an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows
SAS research reveals that insurers improved their customer experience during lockdown
One in five insurance customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics. This far outweighed the 11% of customers who felt it had deteriorated over the same period.
This is positive news for insurers during such challenging times, with 59% of customers also saying that they would pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.
The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of insurance customers using a digital service or app has grown by 10%. Three-fifths (60%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services moving forward.
However, while the number of digital users grew over lockdown, half of the insurance customer base has not yet chosen to move to digital insurance apps or services.
Paul Ridge, Head of Insurance at SAS UK & Ireland, said:
“It’s impressive that there was a net improvement in customer experience during lockdown, despite the challenges the industry was facing with a transition to remote working and increased claims for things like cancelled holidays. While many were forced to wait on customer help lines for long periods, part of the improvement may be explained by even a small (10%) increase in the number of digital users.
“However, it’s clear that a huge number of customers are still yet to make the move online. It’s vital that insurers provide the most accurate, timely and relevant offerings to customers, and this is best achieved by having additional insight into online customer journeys so they can understand them better. Using analytics and AI, insurers can seize this opportunity to digitalise their customer experience and offer a more personalised approach.”
Meanwhile, for insurers that fail to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience, the price could be severe. A third (33%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service.
For more insight into how other industries across EMEA performed during lockdown, download the full report: Experience 2030: Has COVID-19 created a new kind of customer?
The power of superstar firms amid the pandemic: should regulators intervene?
By Professor Anton Korinek, Darden School of Business and Research Associate at the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute. Gosia Glinska, associate director of research impact, Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Darden School of Business
Recent news that Apple hit a market cap of USD2 trillion highlights an extraordinary success story: A once struggling computer-maker on the verge of bankruptcy innovates its way to becoming the most valuable publicly traded company in the United States.
Apple’s 13-figure valuation is indicative of a larger trend that is not entirely benign — the rise of a handful of superstar firms that dominate the economy. Over the past three decades, advances in information technology, mainly the Internet, have supercharged the superstar phenomenon, allowing a small number of entrepreneurs and firms to serve a large market and reap outsize rewards. And COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the phenomenon by pushing us all into a more virtual world.
Apple — along with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix — is a case in point. The combined market value of those six companies exceeds USD7 trillion, which accounts for more than a quarter of the entire S&P 500 index. Even amid the pandemic’s economic wreckage, these megacompanies continue to prosper. The combined share price for Apple and its five peers was up more than 43 percent this year, while the rest of the companies in the S&P 500 collectively lost about 4 percent.
Superstar firms can be found in almost every sector of the economy, including tech, management, finance, sports and the music industry. They command increasing market power, which has consequences for technological, social and economic progress. It is, therefore, critical to understand how their advantages arose in the first place.
THE FORCES BEHIND THE SUPERSTAR PHENOMENON
The “economics of superstars” was first studied by the late University of Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen. Forty years ago, Rosen argued that certain new technologies would significantly enhance the productivity of talented workers, enabling superstars in any industry to greatly expand the scope of their market, while reducing market opportunities for everyone else. Digital innovations, including advances in the collection, processing and transmission of information, is what Rosen envisioned would lead to the superstar phenomenon.
Digital technologies are information goods, which are different from the traditional, physical goods in the economy. What it means is that fundamentally different economic considerations apply. Unlike physical goods — a loaf of bread or a car — information goods have two key properties: They are non-rival and excludable. Non-rival means that something can be used without being used up. Excludability means that an owner of digital innovation can prevent others from using it, by protecting it with patents, for example. These two fundamental properties of information goods are what give rise to the superstar phenomenon.
In a working paper I co-authored with Professor Ding Xuan Ng at Johns Hopkins University, we described superstars as arising from digital innovations that require upfront fixed costs that allow firms to reduce the marginal costs of serving additional customers. For example, once an online travel agency has programmed its website at a fixed cost, it can easily displace thousands of traditional travel agents without much additional effort, scaling at near-zero cost.
Because a firm can exclude others from using its digital innovation, it automatically gains market power. The innovator then uses that power to charge a mark-up and earn a monopoly rent — basically, a price superstars charge in excess of what it costs them to provide the good — which we call the ‘superstar profit share’.
THE POLICYMAKER’S DILEMMA
In a vibrant free market economy, businesses compete for customers by innovating and improving their offerings while keeping prices low; otherwise, they are displaced by more innovative rivals entering the market. Unfortunately, the increasing monopolization of the economy by technology superstars is weakening the competitive environment around the world.
Monopoly power is the main inefficiency from the emergence of superstar firms, because superstars can exclude others from using the innovation that they have developed.
So, what policy measures can be employed to mitigate the inefficiencies arising from the superstar phenomenon?
We do have antitrust policies designed to promote competition and hence economic efficiency. Authorities could take a drastic measure and break up monopolies. Or they could tax all those excess profits megacompanies make.
Another policy to consider involves giving consumers control rights over their data. Right now, only companies have that data, and they are selling it. If you free it up and don’t allow them to sell it anymore, it reduces their monopoly profits. And if you give consumers more freedom over their data, they could, for example, share it with the latest start-up and create a more competitive landscape.
However, such policy remedies can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they reduce monopoly rents. On the other hand, they can also reduce innovation.
Innovation requires investments in R&D, which represent a significant sunk cost that only large firms can afford. Government regulations can easily backfire, discouraging large firms from making long-term R&D investments.
What, then, is the best policy intervention? Professor Ding Xuan Ng and I believe that basic research should be public. Digital innovations should be financed by public investments and should be provided as free public goods to all. This would make the superstar phenomenon disappear, and the effects of digital innovation would simply show up as productivity increases.
We live in a brave new world that is increasingly based on information. Because the information economy is different from the traditional economy, antitrust policy should be revamped to reflect that. Instead of worrying about the economy being eaten up by these gigantic monopolies, policymakers need to focus on the question ‘What specific actions can we pursue to make the economy more competitive and efficient?’
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