How Widespread is Late Trading in Mutual Funds?

By Eric Zitzewitz
2003| Working Paper No. 1817

This paper uses daily fund flow data to examine the extent of late trading in the mutual fund industry. Using data from a 10-15 percent subsample of the industry, I find annual long-term shareholder losses due to late trading of about 5 basis points in international equity funds and 0.6 basis points in domestic equity funds in 2001, and similar dilution rates in a separate dataset for February to July 2003. If these dilution rates prevail industry-wide, it would imply shareholder losses of about $400 million per year. Although shareholder losses due to late trading are smaller than those due to market timing, international fund inflows are almost as sensitive to 4 PM to 7 PM market movements as they are to pre-4 PM movements, suggesting that the practice is almost as widespread as the timing of international funds. Furthermore, there is statistically significant evidence of late trading in the international funds of 15 out of 50 fund families in the sample.