Callan’s 2019 Investment Management Fee Study Uncovers What Institutional Investors Are Actually Paying

SAN FRANCISCO – December 10, 2019 – Callan, a leading institutional investment consulting firm, announced the release of its 2019 Investment Management Fee Study—its eighth examination in over 30 years. The study provides a detailed analysis of fee levels and trends across multiple asset classes and mandate sizes for active and passive management. The study centers on traditional institutional mandates, providing insight into what institutional investors are actually paying (negotiated fees) versus investment managers’ published fee schedules.

The data was collected and curated using Callan’s proprietary investment manager database, proprietary client performance reporting database, and actual client fee schedules. The study reflects trends on 2018 fees representing over $500 billion in assets under management (AUM) and $1.8 billion in total fees paid. The firm’s fee database includes more than 350 investment firms and over 165 institutional investors.

“Investment management fees have been a dominant issue post-Global Financial Crisis, and the pressure to lower fees on traditional active management has been relentless,” said Ivan “Butch” Cliff, executive vice president and director of research. “Coupled with smaller average mandate sizes and movement toward more private markets investments, traditional active investment manager fees have declined meaningfully.”


  • 98% of total fees paid were to active managers
  • 50% of total fees go to less than 10% of firms
  • 70% of assets are managed actively
  • Pricing power remained strongest among private real estate and non-U.S. equity

New in 2019

Actual vs. Published Fee Analysis: Added published fees for each product subset to the actual fees our clients are paying; this compares published fees of a broad product universe, published fees for products with client mandates, and actual fees for client mandates.

Vintage Analysis: Actual fees by year of hiring date to better measure fee trends over the last 20 years.

Industry Concentration Analysis: Concentration of AUM and actual fees/revenues by investment firm.

New Asset Classes: U.S. mid cap equity, emerging market debt, multi-asset class, REITs.

New Vehicle: In addition to separate accounts, we added collective investment trusts; mutual funds were excluded from analysis.

New Fee Data: In addition to fees given in basis points, we analyzed average mandate sizes and average fees paid in dollars to gain insights into the health of the investment management industry.

Find the study here.