Discussion paper

DP18129 Machine-Learning the Skill of Mutual Fund Managers

We show, using machine learning, that fund characteristics can consistently differentiate high from low-performing mutual funds, before and after fees. The outperformance persists for more than three years. Fund momentum and fund flow are the most important predictors of future risk-adjusted fund performance, while characteristics of the stocks that funds hold are not predictive. Returns of predictive long-short portfolios are higher following a period of high sentiment. Our estimation with neural networks enables us to uncover novel and substantial interaction effects between sentiment and both fund flow and fund momentum.


Kaniel, R, Z Lin, M Pelger and S Van Nieuwerburgh (2023), ‘DP18129 Machine-Learning the Skill of Mutual Fund Managers‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18129. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18129