Absence of Value: An Analysis of Investment Allocation Decisions by Institutional Plan Sponsors by Scott D. Stewart, John J. Neumann, Christopher R. Knittel and Jeffrey Heisler in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of the Financial Analysts Journal tells us that pension plans, endowments, foundations and other large pools of assets ($10 trillion in 2006) make exactly the same mistakes and get the same poor results as individual investors. "Much like individual investors, who seem to switch mutual funds at the wrong time, institutional investors do not appear to create value from their investment decisions." In fact, the study shows they lost money and lots of it.
This is despite the fact that "Pension plans, endowments and foundations are typically staffed with professionals with years of experience and advanced degrees."
Index investing with a fixed asset allocation seems more sensible every time a new study comes out.
I am left with this question - if individual investors lose money on average over extended periods and the pros do too, who the heck IS making money?
PS - acknowledgement to Index Funds Advisors whose excellent newsletter included the link to the study.
PPS just realized that I've been doing this blog for three complete years now. It is a sort of full circle in that my second post on Feb.1, 2007 was about a paper on the same subject as today's. The 7 Deadly Sins of Investors seems to apply as much to institutional investors as individuals.