Does it pay to pay performance fees? Empirical evidence from Dutch pension funds

Dirk W. G. A. Broeders*, Arco van Oord, David R. Rijsbergen

*Corresponding author for this work

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We analyze the relation between investment returns and performance fees for 218 Dutch occupational pension funds with an average total of 1090 billion euro in assets under management from 2012 to 2017. 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. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-312
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of International Money and Finance
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Pension funds
  • Asset management
  • Performance fees
  • Investment costs

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