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Research Papers

Our experts have published extensively in peer-reviewed journals. Pre-publication versions of these papers plus other working papers are available below.

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Displaying 11-20 out of 73 results

How Widespread and Predictable is Stock Broker Misconduct?

By: Craig McCann, Chuan Qin, and Mike Yan (Apr 2016)

Published in The Journal of Index Investing, Summer 2017, Vol. 26, Issue 2, pp. 6-25.

In this paper we reconcile widely diverging recent estimates of broker misconduct. Qureshi and Sokobin report that 1.3% of current and past brokers are associated with awards or settlements in excess of a threshold amount. Egan, Matvos, and Seru find that 7.8% of current and former brokers have financial misconduct disclosures including customer complaints, awards, and settlements.

We replicate and extend the analysis of broker misconduct in these studies. Qureshi and Sokobin arrive at their low estimate by excluding 85% of all brokers, including those brokers most likely to have engaged in misconduct. Applying Qureshi and Sokobin's restrictive definition of potential misconduct to all brokers, we find that misconduct is much more widespread.

We also evaluate Qureshi and Sokobin's claim that its BrokerCheck website provides helpful information to investors seeking to avoid bad brokers and answer the question posed by Egan, Matvos, and Seru: If BrokerCheck data can identify broker misconduct, why don't investors use that data to protect themselves? We find that BrokerCheck is worthless in its current hobbled form, but that it could easily be modified so that market forces might substantially reduce broker misconduct.

Craig McCann's NASAA 2015 Presentation, Investments Through Time

By: Craig McCann (Sep 2015)

Investments Through Time: The Evolution of Investment Products and How They are Sold.

Securities-Based Lending

By: Paul Meyer (Jun 2015)

A perfect storm of soaring equity values and historically low interest rates has sparked a borrowing binge among securities investors. Securities-based loans ("SBLs") are a very attractive product for the broker-dealers who market them. However, SBLs impose substantial risks on borrowers. These risks are easy to overlook in a buoyant market but will eventually wreak havoc on the financial wellbeing of investors who are not prepared to withstand the next bear market. In this paper, Paul Meyer reviews the types of lending in which broker-dealers engage, describes how SBLs are regulated and marketed, and points out the considerable risks borne by a customer who borrows against his savings.

Fiduciary Duties and Non-traded REITs

By: Craig McCann (Jun 2015)

Published in the Investments & Wealth Monitor, July/August 2015.

A summary of SLCG's analysis of investor returns in 81 non-traded REITs. Investors are at least $45.5 billion worse off as a result of investing in the 81 non-traded REITs compared to investing in a diversified portfolio of traded REITs. Investors in non-traded REITs over the past 25 years would have earned as much or more investing in short and intermediate term US Treasury securities without bearing the risks and illiquidity of non-traded REITs. More than half of the non-traded REITs' $45.5 billion underperformance results from upfront fees charged to investors in the offerings. The rest of the underperformance results from conflicts of interest which permeate the organization structure of non-traded REITs and which are largely absent in traded REITs.

Non-traded REITs are so inferior to traded REITs that no advisor taking due care could develop a reasonable basis for recommending a non-traded REIT. Advisors recommending non-traded REITs either are not exercising due care or are succumbing to the corrupting influence of the extraordinary commissions sponsors pay for recommending non-traded REITs. The brokerage industry is well aware that recommending non-traded REITs is inconsistent with fiduciary duties.

An Empirical Analysis of Non-Traded REITs

By: Brian Henderson, Joshua Mallett, and Craig McCann (Jun 2015)

Published in the Journal of Wealth Management, 19(1):83-94, Summer 2016.

We find that returns to 81 non-traded REITs which had listed, been acquired by or merged with a listed REIT or had updated per share values average 6.3% annually compared to 11.6% returns earned over the same period in traded REITs. A significant portion of non-traded REITs' $45 billion underperformance results from high up?front fees that average 13.2%, and largely compensate brokers. The remainder of the shortfall results from conflicts of interest that permeate the organizational structure of non-traded REITs.

Non-traded REITs that list on a major securities exchange almost always "internalize" their management and administrative functions prior to listing. We observe corresponding reductions in expenses, on average equal to 9.0% of revenues, largely attributable to the elimination of payments to affiliated parties. Institutional ownership of non-traded REITs rarely occurs until after both an exchange listing and the severing of management and advisory functions from the sponsor, consistent with our view that non-traded REIT investors suffer from the lack of monitoring and effective mechanisms for shareholder protection.

Ex-post Structured Product Returns: Index Methodology and Analysis

By: Geng Deng, Tim Dulaney, Tim Husson, Craig McCann, and Mike Yan (Apr 2014)

Published in The Journal of Investing, Summer 2015, Vol. 24, No. 2: pp. 45-58.

The academic and practitioner literature now includes numerous studies of the substantial issue date mispricing of structured products but there is no large scale study of the ex-post returns earned by structured product investors. This paper augments the current literature by analyzing the ex-post returns of nearly 18,000 individual structured products issued by 13 brokerage firms since 2007. We construct our structured product index and sub-indices for reverse convertibles, single-observation reverse convertibles, tracking securities, and auto-callable securities by valuing each structured product in our database each day.

The ex-post returns of US structured products are highly correlated with the returns of large capitalization equity markets in the aggregate and individual structured products generally underperform simple alternative allocations to stocks and bonds. The observed underperformance of structured products is consistent with the significant issue date under-pricing documented in the literature.

Efficient Valuation of Equity-Indexed Annuities Under Lévy Processes Using Fourier-Cosine Series

By: Geng Deng, Tim Dulaney, Craig McCann, and Mike Yan (Apr 2014)

Published in The Journal of Computational Finance, Vol 21, No. 2, September 2017.

Equity-Indexed Annuities (EIAs) are deferred annuities which accumulate value over time according to crediting formulas and realized equity index returns. We propose an efficient algorithm to value two popular crediting formulas found in EIAs - Annual Point-to-Point (APP) and Monthly Point-to-Point (MPP) - under general Lévy-process based index returns. APP contracts observe returns of referenced indexes annually and credit EIA accounts, subject to minimum and maximum returns. MPP contracts incorporate both local/monthly caps and global/annual floors on index credits. MPP contracts have payoffs of a "cliquet" option.

Our algorithm, based on the COS method (Fang and Oosterlee, 2008), expands the present value of an EIA contract using Fourier-cosine series, expresses the value of the EIA contract as a series of terms involving simple characteristic function evaluations. We present several examples with different Lévy processes, including the Black-Scholes model and the CGMY model. These examples illustrate the efficiency of our algorithm as well as its versatility in computing annuity market sensitivities, which could facilitate the hedging and pricing of annuity contracts.

The Fall of Willow

By: Geng Deng and Craig McCann (Mar 2014)

Published in the PIABA Bar Journal, 21 (1): 71-90, 2014.

From May 8, 2000 until June 30, 2007, the UBS Willow Fund was invested in distressed obligations with offsetting but smaller cash and synthetic short debt positions through credit default swaps (CDS). After June 2007 the Fund dramatically increased its purchases of CDS and became massively short distressed debt. Investors in the Fund lost $278.4 million during this second period from June 2007 to December 2012 and the Willow Fund was liquidated in 2013.

The Willow Fund understated the risk of its CDS portfolio and did not disclose the dramatic increase in the Fund's risks. In fact, the Willow Fund stopped reporting the CDS premiums it paid as a line item expense and thereafter bundled them with realized and unrealized gains on losses on its overall securities and derivatives portfolio making it nearly impossible for investors to discern the impact of the Fund's change in strategy and dramatic increase in risk. Investors in the Willow Fund suffered losses of between $351 million and $419 million compared to diversified portfolios of junks bonds while UBS made over $100 million selling and managing the Fund.

Valuation of Structured Products

By: Geng Deng, Tim Husson, and Craig McCann (Feb 2014)

Published in The Journal of Alternative Investments, Spring 2014, Vol. 16, No. 4: pp. 71-87.

The market for structured products has grown dramatically in the past decade. Their diversity and complexity has led to the development of many different valuation approaches, and which approach to use to value a given product is not always clear. In this paper we demonstrate and discuss four approaches to valuing structured products: simulation of the linked financial instrument's future values, numerical integration, decomposition, and partial differential equation approaches. As an example, we use all four approaches to value a common type of structured product and discuss the virtues and pitfalls of each. These approaches have been practically applied to value 20,000 structured products in our database.

Valuation of Reverse Convertibles in the VG Economy

By: Geng Deng, Tim Dulaney, and Craig McCann (Jan 2014)

Published in the Journal of Derivatives & Hedge Funds 19, 244-258 (November 2013).

Prior research on structured products has demonstrated that equity-linked notes sold to retail investors in initial public offerings are typically issued at above their fair market value. A particular type of equity-linked note reverse convertibles embed down-and-in put options and other investors relatively high coupon payments in exchange for bearing some of the downside risk of the equity underlying the note. We analytically study the magnitude of the overpricing of reverse convertibles - one of the most popular structured products on the market today - within a stochastic volatility model.

We extend the current literature to include analytical valuation formulas within a model of stochastic volatility - the Variance Gamma (VG) model. We show that these complex notes are even more overpriced than previously estimated when stochastic volatility is taken into account. As a result of their complex payouts and the lack of a secondary market to correct the mispricing, reverse convertible notes continue to be sold at prices substantially in excess of their fair market value.

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