Fund Flows Slump on Taper

Terry Flanagan

Redemptions from EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds hit a 24 week high in mid-December as the U.S Federal Reserve, after months of talking about tapering its current quantitative easing program (QE3), announced on December 18 that the process will begin in January.

The week leading up to the Fed’s decision also saw heavy redemptions from Global Equity and Bond, Balanced, Gold and Energy Sector and Emerging Markets Bond Funds while Japan Equity Funds posted back-to-back weekly outflows for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2012.

“Our daily data shows that, in many cases, the bulk of the redemptions occurred before the Fed’s decision,” said EPFR global research Director Cameron Brandt. “So it’s not clear yet if it was uncertainty about the decision, or the decision itself, that drove the outflows.”

Overall, investors pulled $9.41 billion out of Bond Funds during the week ending December 18 and another $3.41 billion from Equity Funds. Redemptions from Money Market Funds totaled $35.2 billion.

At the country level Korea Equity Funds posted record setting inflows, Spain Equity and Spain Bond Funds continued to attract fresh money and Australia Equity Funds recorded inflows for the sixth time in the past seven weeks while China and Taiwan Equity Funds saw inflow streaks of six and seven weeks come to an end.

EPFR Global-tracked Developed Markets Equity Funds posted modest outflows for the second time in three weeks during mid-December as investors waited for the Fed to meet and make – or not make – a decision on winding down QE3.

In contrast to the “taper tantrum” of late June, however, when investors pulled $4.5 billion out of North America Equity Funds and over $400 million out of Europe Equity Funds, redemptions for U.S. Equity Funds were under $200 million while Europe Equity Funds posted their 25th consecutive week of net inflows.

The nearly neutral flows for US Equity Funds, however, masked a shift from actively to passively managed funds that was most pronounced at the small and mid-cap levels. Overall, actively managed US Equity Funds posted their biggest collective outflow on record with Small and Mid-Cap Value Funds the hardest hit in flows as a percentage of assets under management terms.

With the Fed’s meeting on the horizon, investors pulled back from EPFR Global-tracked Sector Fund groups expected to feel the pinch when QE3 is wound down. Redemptions from Commodities and Energy Sector Funds hit 22 and 54 week highs respectively, outflows from Real Estate Sector Funds hit levels last seen in July and investors also took money out of Technology, Financials, Utilities and Healthcare/Biotechnology Sector Funds.

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