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Managerial Finance

Investigation of performance of Malaysian Islamic unit trust funds: Comparison with


conventional unit trust funds
Fikriyah Abdullah Taufiq Hassan Shamsher Mohamad

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Fikriyah Abdullah Taufiq Hassan Shamsher Mohamad, (2007),"Investigation of performance of Malaysian
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MF
33,2

Investigation of performance
of Malaysian Islamic
unit trust funds

142

Comparison with conventional unit


trust funds
Fikriyah Abdullah

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School of Finance and Accounting, Universiti Utara Malaysia,


Kedah, Malaysia

Taufiq Hassan
Department of Accounting and Finance, Faculty of Economics and
Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia, and

Shamsher Mohamad
Faculty of Economics and Management, Graduate School of Management,
Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
Abstract
Purpose One of the implications of Islamic investment principles is the availability of Islamic
financial instruments in the financial market. The main aim of this research is to observe the
differences in terms of performance between Islamic and conventional mutual fund in the context of
Malaysian capital market.
Design/methodology/approach To achieve the major objectives of this paper standard methods
wereused for evaluating the mutual funds performance, for example, Sharpe index and adjusted
Sharpe index, Jensen Alpha, Timing and selectivity ability. The scope of the paper is to measure the
relative quantitative performance of funds which was managed based on two different approaches.
Findings The basic finding of the paper is that Islamic funds performed better than the
conventional funds during bearish economic trends while, conventional funds showed better
performance than Islamic funds during bullish economic conditions. In addition to that finding, both
conventional and Islamic funds were unable to achieve at least 50 per cent market diversification
levels, though conventional funds are found to have a marginally better diversification level than the
Islamic funds. The results also suggest that fund managers are unable to correctly identify good
bargain stocks and to forecast the price movements of the general market.
Research limitations/implications The main limitation is that the samples of conventional and
Islamic mutual funds were from one developing market. The findings could be better validated if the
sample included the mutual funds from other developed and developing economies, where both
Islamic and conventional funds are available.
Practical implications The findings suggest that having Islamic mutual funds in an investment
portfolio helps to hedge the downside risk in an adverse economic situation.
Originality/value So far there is no published evidence on the relative performance of Islamic and
conventional mutual funds in Malaysia as well as other developing countries. Therefore, this paper
adds new knowledge to the mutual funds literature.
Keywords Performance management, Financial risk, Islam, Fund management, Unit trusts
Paper type Research paper
Managerial Finance
Vol. 33 No. 2, 2007
pp. 142-153
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0307-4358
DOI 10.1108/03074350710715854

Introduction
Mutual fund or better known as unit trust fund in Malaysia is an investment vehicle
created by asset management companies specializing in pooling savings from both retail
and institutional investors. Individual investors seeking liquidity, portfolio diversification

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and investment expertise are increasingly choosing unit trust funds as their investment
vehicle. However, these investors do differ in their preferences based on their risk
threshold, liquidity needs and their needs to comply with religious requirement.
Over the past decades, Malaysian capital market has been growing at a very fast pace
and this has been supportive of the various complex needs of the country. In view of the
fact that capital market is functioning based on interest, it is therefore not surprising that
the operation of capital market does not conform to the Shariah principles (Islamic law
as revealed in the Quran and Sunnah). Hence, it is difficult for Muslim investors
representing more than 50 per cent of the total population, to participate freely in the
Malaysian capital market. The increasing demand for alternative investment vehicles,
which conform to the Shariah principle has prompted the Malaysian government to
introduce various measures with the aim of boosting the Islamic capital market (ICM).
For examples, among other measures, an Islamic bank was established in 1980 and the
Kuala Lumpur Shariah Index was introduced in 1999 with the objective of fulfilling the
investment needs of Muslim investors. Based on the Shariah principle, transactions
taking place in the capital market should be free from prohibited activities or elements
such as usury (riba), gambling (maisir) and ambiguity (gharar). Islamic investing can be
defined as investment in financial services and other investment products, which adhere
to the principles established by the Shariah[1]. These principles require that:
(1) Investment must be made in ethical sectors. In other words, profits cannot be
generated from prohibited activities such as alcohol production, gambling,
pornography etc. In addition, investing in interest (riba)-based financial
institutions are not allowed.
(2) All wealth creation should result from a partnership between an investor and
the user of capital in which rewards and risks are shared. Returns in invested
capital should be earned rather than be pre-determined.
One of the implications of Islamic investment principles is in the availability of Islamic
financial instruments in the financial market. The Shariahs prohibition against riba
(interest) and some Fiqhi (Islamic Jurisprudence) issues in the interpretation of gharar
(excessive risk) suggests that many of the instrument products, which are available to
conventional funds are not available to Islamic funds. In the case of financial services,
for instance Islamic banking, it is not much of a hassle for a conventional bank to open
up Islamic banking window as an Islamic investment arm. However, in the case of
Islamic investment instruments for example, Islamic unit trust funds, fund managers
do have some limitations in selecting stocks to form part of their portfolio. Even
though most of the banks listed in Bursa Malaysia have Islamic banking arms, due to
the Shariah guidelines, fund managers are unable to include banking stocks in their
portfolio. Furthermore, due to the absence of Islamic money market, Islamic unit trust
funds depend solely on the equity market for investment. For conventional equity unit
trust funds, fund managers do not invest solely in the equity market. Rather, a fraction
of their investment goes to the money market, which comprises of risk free
investments. Table I presents the investment proportions of conventional equity funds
in Malaysia over the seven-year period, from 1995-2001.
Before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 1997, the Malaysian economy had
registered high growth for a decade, averaging at 8.5 per cent per annum. Due to high
GDP growth rate and inflows of foreign capital, cyclical sectors such as banking sector,
property and entertainment sectors had recorded high performance in the stock
market[2]. Unlike Islamic unit trust funds, conventional funds do not have any

Malaysian
Islamic unit
trust funds
143

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33,2

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144

restrictions to incorporate these high performing stocks into their portfolio during
good economic conditions. Similarly, during financial crisis in 1997, stocks in the
cyclical sectors recorded the worst performance and consequently, this was reflected in
the poor performance of conventional unit trust funds. However, given that Islamic
funds have limited investment choices, their performances were, therefore, not
subjected to the cyclical effects of the economy.
While conventional funds are subjected to the capital market laws, Islamic funds are
subjected not only to the capital market laws but also to the Quranic law of economics.
Based on this strategic difference, the purpose of this paper is to provide an
understanding on the performances of these two diverse unit trust funds in the
Malaysian capital market, namely conventional and Islamic funds. Islamic funds are
relatively new as compared to the conventional funds. In the Malaysian context, so far,
there is no published evidence on the comparison of performance between Islamic
funds and conventional funds. This study intends to fill the gap in the literature by
providing further empirical evidence on the Malaysian unit trust funds. The rest of the
paper unfolds as follows: Review of previous studies provides a brief review of the
relevant literature. Data and methodology outlines the methodology and the measures
of performance used. Results and discussion discusses the findings from the empirical
analysis and Results and discussion provides concluding remarks.
Review of previous studies
The literature on the performance of mutual funds has long standing issues. The issues
addressed by previous studies include the risk-return performance, selection and
market timing abilities of fund managers and the level of diversification of mutual
funds. McDonald (1974) estimates the Sharpe, Treynor and Jensen measures for 123
mutual funds using monthly data for the period between 1960 and 1969. The findings
show that majority of the funds did not perform as well as the New York Stock
Exchange (NYSE) index.
Kon and Jen (1979) examines the non-stationarity of the market-related risk for
mutual funds over time. They separate their samples into different risk regimes and then
run the standard regression equation for each such regime. Using a sample of 49 mutual
funds and their net monthly returns from January 1960 to December 1971, they find the
existence of multiple levels of beta for 37 funds. This implies that there are a large
number of funds engaging in market timing activities. Kon (1983) extends his analysis to
examine both market timing and selectivity performance. He finds that 14 funds have
positive overall timing performance but none is statistically significant at a reasonable
level. Five out of 23 funds show statistically significant overall selectivity performance.

Table I.
Average investment
among sectors for
conventional funds:
1995-2001

Industrial products (%)


Consumer products (%)
Trading/services (%)
Finance (%)
Property (%)
Construction (%)
Plantation (%)
Others (%)
Total equities (%)

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

9.65
6.53
19.99
16.00
8.15
2.48
10.95
2.04
75.78

12.87
5.72
24.69
14.08
7.16
8.12
5.06
3.69
76.45

13.42
7.23
20.68
15.12
3.51
4.07
15.09
9.99
89.07

8.82
4.61
20.91
11.24
2.81
5.43
5.49
6.06
64.57

10.58
6.13
22.12
12.52
2.74
8.00
4.18
5.49
71.07

4.80
7.97
22.58
46.86
4.05
0.00
9.60
0
95.86

8.9
7.54
22.9
17.44
2.21
6.51
5.65
7.83
78.98

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In their study, Chen et al. (1992) examine a sample of 93 mutual funds covering a period
from January 1977 through March 1984 by using a quadratic market model in
conjunction with a systematically varying parameter regression method. The results
indicate that fund managers do not possess market timing abilities. Furthermore, they
find a trade-off between market timing and security selection abilities.
Annuar et al. (1997) use the Treynor and Mazuy model to examine the selectivity
and timing performance of 31 unit trust funds in Malaysia for the period of July 1990
through August 1995. On average, the selectivity performance of the funds is positive
and the timing performance is negative. The study finds a positive correlation between
selectivity and timing performances. The results also show that the funds have not
achieved the expected level of diversification and the risk-return characteristics of the
unit trust funds are generally inconsistent with their stated objectives.
Shamsher et al. (2000) conduct a study on the performance of 41 actively and
passively managed funds in Malaysia covering the period from 1995 through 1999. The
performance measures used are the Sharpes index, the Treynors index and the Jensens
index. The findings reveal no significant differences in the performance of actively and
passively managed funds. Moreover, the returns of these funds are lower than the
returns of the market portfolio. The diversification levels of these two funds are less than
50 per cent of the diversification level of the market index as proxied by the
Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI). The selection skills of active fund managers are
no better than that of the passive fund managers. The market timing abilities of
managers are found to be poor for both the actively and passively managed funds.
Data and methodology
This study focuses on equity-based unit trust funds and the sample consists of both
Islamic and conventional funds. The conventional funds are further divided into
governmental and non-governmental funds, which include growth funds, income funds
and balance funds. The sample consists of 65 funds, 14 of which are Islamic funds.
Monthly returns adjusted for dividends and bonuses distributed to unit holders are
computed for the 10-year period starting from January 1992 through December 2001. To
serve as a market benchmark, the returns on the KLCI i.e. the KLCI (formerly known as the
KLSE Composite Index) are used as a proxy for the returns on the market portfolio and
the risk free rate is proxied by the three-month Treasury Bills[3]. In view of the fact that the
Malaysian economic conditions changed dramatically as a result of the financial crisis in
1997, we divide the study period into three different periods to ascertain the impact of the
economic conditions on the performance of unit trust funds. The three different periods
are: pre-(1992-1996), during (1997-1998) and post-(1999-2001) financial crisis.
Measurement of performance
The returns on the unit trust funds are derived from two components namely income
and the capital gain. The rate of returns for each fund is calculated as follows:
Rp

NAVt " NAVt"1 Dt


NAVt"1

where
Rp Total return of a portfolio (individual fund);

NAVt Net Asset Value at time t;

Malaysian
Islamic unit
trust funds
145

MF
33,2

146

NAVt"1 Net Asset Value one period before time t; and


Dt Dividend or cash disbursement at time t.

In this study, we employ three standard methods namely the Treynors Index, the Sharpe
Index and the Jensen Index and Adjusted Jensen Index to evaluate the performance of unit
trust funds. Due to the biasness in the estimation of the standard deviation, the Sharpes
Index has been modified by Jobson and Korkie (1981) to become the Adjusted Sharpe
Index. This study also employs Adjusted Sharpe Index, which is expressed as follows:

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ASI

SI & no. of observations


no. of observations 0:75

Modigliani and Modigliani (1997) propose an alternative risk adjusted measure which is
easier to understand. The measure expresses a funds performance relative to the market
in percentage terms, which is given as follows:
MM

Rp " Rf
& !m
!t

where
MM Modigliani measure;

Rp ex post adjusted returns on the mutual funds over the measurement period;
Rf risk-free rate of return on corresponding period on a government security;

!t standard deviation of returns of the mutual funds; and

!m standard deviation of market (index) excess return.

An additional performance measure known as Information ratio, is defined as follows:


Information ratio

Fund return " Benchmark return


Standard deviation (fund return " Benchmark return

Measurement of risk, selectivity and timing


The total risk on investments is measured using the standard deviation. Unlike the
standard deviation, which is an absolute measure of variability, the coefficient of variation
is a relative measure of variability. The coefficient of variation (CoV) ratio which
measures the amount of risk assumed per unit of average returns, is expressed as follows:
CoV
where

!i
ERi

!i standard deviation (total risk) of asset i; and

E(Ri) average return of asset i.

The stock selection and market timing performances of each fund are estimated using
the Treynor and Mazuy (1966) model and the equation is as follows:

where

Rp "p #p Rm $Rm 2 %

Rp dividend-adjusted return on portfolio per cent minus the yield on 91-day


Treasury Bills rate;
"p coefficient that indicates estimated selectivity skill;

Malaysian
Islamic unit
trust funds

#p beta risk of unit trust;

Rm observed return on the KLSE Composite Index minus Rf (risk-free rate);


$ coefficient that indicates market-timing skill; and

147

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% residual excess return on portfolio per cent.

A positive and significant " and $ indicate superior selectivity and market-timing
skills, respectively. Finally, heteroscedasticity and serial correlation problems, which
are common in any regression based model, are corrected by using Whites (1980)
correction test and Newey-Wests (1987) correction test.
Results and discussion
Non risk-adjusted returns of unit trust funds
Table II summarizes the non risk-adjusted returns for both Islamic and conventional
funds, which include governmental and non-governmental funds. Also reported are the
returns of the market portfolio as proxied by the KLCI. During the pre-crisis period,
among the portfolios, KLCI achieves the highest level of average monthly returns.
The average monthly returns for Islamic funds, conventional funds, be they governmental
or non-governmental funds are below the average monthly return of the KLCI. This
suggest that unit trust funds under-perform the market on a non risk-adjusted basis.
During the crisis, the stock market was badly affected by the economic downturn and
this was reflected by a negative average monthly return of "1.98 per cent for the KLCI
which recorded the lowest level of returns among the portfolios. The performances of
Islamic and non-governmental funds appear to be better during the crisis period than
during the pre-crisis period. For conventional and governmental funds, their average
monthly returns during the crisis period are lower than during the pre-crisis period.
The results for the post-crisis period reveal that the market portfolio, KLCI
experiences the highest level of average monthly returns. The average monthly returns
for all of the unit trust funds during the post-crisis period are better than those
recorded during the pre-crisis period.
Over the 10-year period, the average monthly return of the market is 0.81 per cent.
The average monthly returns for Islamic, conventional and non-governmental funds
are 0.72, 0.73 and 0.54 per cent, respectively. This suggests that most of the funds,
under-perform the KLCI. Exception to this is the government funds which record an

Islamic funds
t-statistic
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
t-statistic
Non-governmental funds
t-statistic
Market (KLCI)

Pre-crisis

During crisis

Post-crisis

Overall

0.000781
("0.543283)
0.006926
("0.496229)
0.011311
("0.052740)
0.002673
("0.802749)
0.012147

0.024430
(0.860750)
0.003064
(0.662587)
0.005057
(0.509891)
0.009267
(0.863347)
"0.019811

0.004767
("0.242770)
0.007751
("0.317379)
0.012837
("0.050591)
0.004742
("0.443947)
0.014647

0.007197
("0.029178)
0.007309
("0.048464)
0.011949
(0.143911)
0.005359
("0.159691)
0.008103

Table II.
Non risk-adjusted
returns of unit trust
funds over market
portfolio

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148

average monthly returns of 1.19 per cent. One plausible reason for this is that these
government funds are closely monitored by government agencies which are
responsible for ensuring good performance of the funds. Therefore, these government
funds may have better opportunities of investing in government-backed projects as
compared to any other funds. Furthermore, government-backed projects are relatively
more secure and stand a better chance of generating good returns.
Risk-adjusted average monthly returns of unit trust funds
Table III presents the comparative performance analysis over a 10-year period for Islamic
funds vs conventional funds as well as for governmental vs non-governmental funds.
It is shown that conventional funds perform better than Islamic funds during the
pre-crisis period using various types of performance measures: Adjusted Sharpe Index,
Treynor Index, Adjusted Jensen Index, Modigliani Measures and the Information
Ratio. However, the opposite is also true during the crisis and post-crisis periods.
During the crisis period, regardless of the type of return measurements used, Islamic

Period

Funds

Pre-crisis

Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental
funds
t-statistic
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental
funds
t-statistic
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental
funds
t-statistic
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental
funds
t-statistic

During
crisis

Post-crisis

Overall

Table III.
Risk adjusted monthly
returns of different
classes of unit
trust funds

Treynors
Index

Adjusted
Jensens
Alpha
Index

Modigliani
Measures

Information
Ratio

"0.1047
"0.0196
("1.841)*
0.0225

"0.0086
0.0028
("1.068)
0.0109

"0.0158
"0.0044
("1.068)
0.0037

"0.0073
"0.0014
("1.837)*
0.0015

"0.3592
"0.1296
("1.488)
"0.0144

"0.0673
(2.495)**
0.0025
"0.1523
(2.598)**
"0.1798

"0.0049
(1.904)*
0.0031
"0.0494
(1.366)
"0.037

"0.0121
(1.904)*
0.0284
"0.0241
(1.3657)
"0.0117

"0.0047
(2.496)**
0.0013
"0.0268
(2.575)**
"0.0319

"0.2091
(2.224)**
0.2459
0.2458
(0.001)
0.1998

"0.0879
("1.650)
0.0393
0.0183
(0.766)
0.0035

"0.0377
(0.017)
0.0209
0.0025
(0.216)
0.0264

"0.0123
(0.017)
0.0088
"0.0095
(0.216)
0.0143

"0.0151
("1.645)
0.0181
0.0125
(1.235)
0.0099

0.2677
("0.285)
"0.0685
"0.0457
("0.422)
"0.0109

0.0308
("1.105)
"0.0053
"0.0324
(1.169)
"0.0207

"0.0017
(0.367)
"0.0998
"0.0088
("0.037)
0.0073

"0.0138
(0.367)
"0.0138
"0.0127
("0.036)
0.0036

0.0153
("1.326)
"0.00057
"0.0038
(1.184)
"0.0024

"0.0673
(1.274)
"0.0084
"0.0084
("3.9E-05)
0.0345

"0.029
(0.390)

"0.0159
(0.852)

"0.0197
(0.852)

"0.0034
(0.391)

"0.029
"1.03

Adjusted
Sharpes
Index

Notes: * Indicates significance at the 10 per cent; ** indicates significance at the 5 per cent

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funds record positive average monthly while the conventional funds show negative
average monthly returns. In the post-crisis period, the performance of Islamic funds is
also better than that of the conventional funds.
An intuitive explanation for this is that since Islamic funds are restricted to invest in
products, which comply with the Shariah principles, the investment choices of Islamic
funds are relatively limited in scope when compared to the investment choices
available for conventional funds. Conventional funds tend to perform better than the
Islamic funds during bullish market trend because conventional funds are able to
invest in any stocks including those with high risks exposure. Accordingly, the riskreturn trade off suggests that the returns from investing in risky investments should be
high in order to compensate investors for the high level of risks assumed. The opposite
is also true during bearish market trend. Since the investment of Islamic funds
excludes usury, gambling and ambiguity or uncertainty elements, Islamic funds have a
lower degree of risk exposure than conventional funds and therefore are able to
minimize their overall risk level. This contributes to making the investment of Islamic
funds relatively less volatile during the crisis period and thus, resulting in a better
return during bearish economic conditions. Nevertheless, the differences in the
performance between Islamic and conventional funds are marginally significant.
Similarly, a comparative analysis for the governmental and non-governmental
funds reveals that governmental funds perform better than non-governmental funds
during the pre-crisis period and the differences are statistically significant. However,
during and after the crisis periods, the differences in the performance between these
two funds are no longer statistically significant. This could be due to the fact that
special attention is given by the Malaysian government in its effort to minimize
political risk and to ensure that all conventional funds be they governmental or nongovernmental, are equally competitive in the market.
Differences in risks of unit trust funds
Beta, standard deviation and coefficient of variation are used to measure systematic risk,
total risk and risk per unit of returns. As shown in Table IV, over the 10-year period, the
beta values of Islamic funds and conventional funds are 0.251 and 0.383, respectively.
This suggests that Islamic funds are less sensitive to changes in the market as compared
to conventional funds. Such findings are not surprising given that Islamic funds are
restricted to invest in Shariah-approved stocks only. Within the conventional funds,
governmental funds appear to show a higher level of systematic risks than the nongovernmental funds. The beta values for both governmental and non-governmental
funds are 0.4877 and 0.2998, respectively. This implies that changes in the market will
have greater impact on the governmental funds than on the non-governmental funds.
Table IV also reveals that the investment returns of Islamic funds are less variable
and thus less risky than the conventional funds. Over the 10-year period, the standard
deviation of returns of 0.1295 for the Islamic funds is lower than that of the
conventional funds which is 0.1566. The findings also indicate that the variability of
returns for governmental funds is much higher than that of the non-governmental
funds. The standard deviation of returns for governmental and non-governmental
funds are 0.2100 and 0.1262, respectively.
In terms of risk per unit of return, as shown in Table IV, Islamic funds have a lower
value than conventional funds. The coefficient of variations for Islamic and
conventional funds are 17.9972 and 21.4178, respectively. On the other hand, although
the standard deviation of returns for governmental funds is higher than that of the

Malaysian
Islamic unit
trust funds
149

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150

Table IV.
Differences in risks of
unit trust funds as
measured by beta

Beta
Funds
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds
t-statistic
Standard deviation
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds
t-statistic
Coefficient of variation
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds
t-statistic

Pre-crisis

During crisis

Post-crisis

Overall

0.575769
0.679004
("0.866223)
0.730952
0.638741
(1.132801)

0.374707
0.647849
("1.443814)
0.819279
0.477680
(2.036165)*

0.141840
0.168516
("0.616671)
0.171547
0.159892
(0.31649)

0.251128
0.383173
("1.901845)
0.487663
0.299827
(3.128808)**

0.050421
0.092819
("0.935872)
0.115341
0.067686
(1.275648)

0.237621
0.221600
(0.114755)
0.263680
0.207518
(0.446388)

0.072436
0.108288
("0.71171)
0.150526
0.079931
(1.574359)

0.129528
0.156552
("0.399858)
0.210029
0.126238
(1.390866)

64.524025
13.400770
(1.44431)
10.197726
25.22635
("1.033506)

9.726549
72.313126
(0.892007)
52.146350
22.393470
(0.810646)

15.196741
13.970884
(0.59148)
11.725764
16.856388
(0.77804)

17.9972
21.417863
("0.739998)
17.576680
23.557523
(0.64716)

Notes: * Indicates significance at the 10 per cent; ** indicates significance at the 5 per cent

non-governmental funds, the relative variation of governmental funds is smaller than


that of the non-governmental funds. However, the differences in risks between Islamic
and conventional funds as well as between the governmental and non-governmental
funds are only marginally significant.
Diversification level of unit trust funds
The coefficient of determination, R2 is used to measure the degree of diversification of
the fund relative to the diversification of the market portfolio. The results in Table V
shows that conventional funds have a marginally better diversification level than the
Islamic funds.
Since conventional funds do not have much restrictions in terms of their investment
choices, it is therefore not surprising that the R2 of 0.2854 for conventional funds is
higher than the R2 of 0.2618 for the Islamic funds. Meanwhile, during the same period,

Funds

Table V.
Diversification level (R2)
of unit trust funds

Islamic funds
Conventional funds
t-statistic
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds
t-statistic

Income
0.235441
0.264147
("0.38706)
0.347976
0.228837
(0.1900223)

Objective
Balance
0.266965
0.242193
(0.336758)
0.234743
0.254262
("0.363497)

Growth

Overall

0.265875
0.324325
("0.71418)
0.331997
0.305018
"0.31

0.261839
0.285356
("0.45434)
0.276533
0.281843
("0.113327)

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there are hardly any differences in the diversification level between governmental and
non-governmental funds. This could be due to the fact that both of the funds
have almost equal investment opportunities. Nevertheless, the differences in the levels of
diversification for the funds are not statistically significant. The findings of low
diversification level for the funds are consistent with the results of previous studies
such as Koh et al. (1987), Shamsher and Annuar (1995) and Shamsher et al. (2000).
Selection performance of unit trust funds
The results in Table VI indicate that the selection abilities of Islamic and conventional
fund managers are negative and statistically significant. Although both fund managers
have poor selectivity performance, the selection ability of conventional fund managers
seems to be better than that of the Islamic fund managers. The selection abilities of
governmental and non-governmental funds are also negative, but only the nongovernmental fund managers show statistically significant negative selection ability.

Malaysian
Islamic unit
trust funds
151

Market timing performance of unit trust funds


Table VII presents findings on the market timing abilities of fund managers. For the
overall period, the negative timing coefficients for Islamic and conventional fund
"a
Funds
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds

Pre-crisis

During crisis

Post-crisis

Overall

"0.013337
("2.8908)*
"0.013879
("2.3077)**
"0.007537
("0.7662)
"0.020130
("3.3202)*

"0.043725
("0.7160)
0.012405
(0.3871)
0.014876
(0.2834)
"0.004075
("0.1322)

"0.028864
("2.3133)**
"0.025880
("1.7145)***
"0.014273
("0.6611)
"0.031613
("2.4446)**

"0.027293
("3.2724)*
"0.016079
("2.2287)**
"0.006831
("0.6550)
"0.024083
("3.7241)**

Notes: * Indicates significance at the 1 per cent; ** indicates significance at the 5 per cent;
*** indicates significance at the 10 per cent; aHeteroscedasticity and serial correlation problems
are corrected by using Whites correction test (1980) and Newey-Wests correction test (1987) when
necessary

Table VI.
Selection performance
(") of unit trust funds

$
Funds
Islamic funds
Conventional funds
Governmental funds
Non-governmental funds

Pre-crisis

During crisis

Post-crisis

Overall

"0.554124
("1.4531)
"0.330591
("0.6651)
"0.353337
("0.4346)
"0.393200
("0.7846)

1.246815
(0.8254)
"0.532492
("0.6719)
"0.034723
("0.0267)
"0.270850
("0.3552)

0.200465
(0.7684)
0.256704
(0.8133)
"0.017918
("0.0397)
0.354440
(1.3108)

"0.045612
("0.2096)
"0.427398
("2.2706)*
"0.613115
("2.2535)*
"0.216750
("1.2847)

Note: * Indicates significance at the 5 per cent

Table VII.
Market timing
ability ($) of mutual
funds managers

MF
33,2

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152

managers suggest that both managers do not possess good market timing abilities.
However, the timing coefficient for Islamic funds is not statistically significant. This
could be due to the fact that the investment choices of Islamic fund managers are less
dependent on the fluctuation of the economy since their investments are not cyclical in
nature. Similarly, over the 10-year period, the governmental and non-governmental
fund managers also show poor market timing abilities but the timing estimate is only
significant for the governmental funds. The results of negative timing performance are
consistent with most of the previous findings for examples: Henriksson (1984), Chen
et al. (1992), Coggin et al. (1993) and Annuar et al. (1997).
Conclusion and implication
The primary focus of this study is to ascertain the relative performance of Islamic and
conventional funds across different economic conditions. The study further divides the
conventional funds into governmental and non-governmental funds. In this regard, we
conduct a comparative performance analysis between Islamic and conventional funds
as well as between governmental and non-governmental funds over three different
economic periods namely pre, during and post economic crisis. The results show that
performances of the funds are marginally below than that of the market.
A relative measure of variability indicate that Islamic funds are less risky than
conventional funds. Similarly, governmental funds are found to be less risky than nongovernmental funds. Both Islamic and conventional funds have diversification levels
which are less than 50 per cent of the diversification level of the market portfolio.
Although governmental funds have a marginally better diversification level than the
non-governmental funds, their diversification levels are also below 50 per cent. Poor
selection and market timing abilities are documented for all classes of funds Islamic,
conventional, government and non-government funds.
Our results also indicate that Islamic funds perform better than conventional funds
during bearish economic trend i.e. during the crisis period. However, during bullish trend
defined as the pre-crisis period, the performance of conventional funds is better than that
of the Islamic funds. This implies that Islamic funds can be used as a hedging instrument
during any financial meltdown or economic slowdown. The findings of the study may
have important implications for investors and regulatory agencies of the unit trust
industry. In view of the fact that conventional funds perform better than Islamic funds
during good economic period and vice-versa during bad economic period, this provides
good justification for the market regulators to further enhance the ICM in Malaysia.
Notes
1. List of Securities Approved by Shariah Advisory Council of the Securities Commission,
26 October 2001. Securities Commission.
2. Based on the Shariah guideline, investment in the property sector, which normally has a
debt level of more than 50 per cent, is not permitted.
3. The continuous monthly risk-free return is calculated using the following equation:
rft (ln[1 rft]/12).
References
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Corresponding author
Fikriyah Abdullah can be contacted at: fibriyah@uum.edu.my

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Islamic unit
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