Funds that charge a performance fee can be cheaper overall than those that do not, according to research.

Fitz Partners, a specialist in analysing asset management costs, found that at asset managers offering investors a choice of share classes – one with a performance fee and one without – on average the performance fee share was cheaper.

“It has previously been challenging to find substantial differences between levels of management fees charged on funds carrying a performance fee and those that don’t,” Fitz said.

The firm compared institutional share classes for 43 products. Each product had “twin” shares, i.e. one with a performance fee and one without.

The research found that, on average, the management fees for the two share classes differed in price by 26 basis points, as providers sought to compensate for those that did not offer a performance fee.

For those that did offer a performance fee, Fitz Partners reported that these shares were on average 19 basis points cheaper when comparing overall costs using the ongoing charges figure (OCF).

The company said the research suggested the “historical expensive model” of fund fees might be changing.

Hugues Gillibert, CEO of Fitz Partners, said: “It is interesting to note that, when you have the choice between ‘twin’ share classes, you might actually get a discount when choosing to invest into the share class carrying a performance fee.

“We were glad to see a significant reduction in management fees to compensate for the presence of a performance fee, but we did not expect this discount to remain after adding the cost of the performance fee to the funds’ OCFs.”

Fund managers offered “twin” share classes when there was direct demand for both fee models from clients, Fitz said.

However, Fitz’s research found that performance fee funds were usually more expensive when it widened the sample to include all institutional equity funds.

“When considering all equity… share classes (not ‘twins’), Fitz Partners estimates that management fees remain the same whether they are charging performance fees or not, but administration fees for funds carrying a performance fee are higher by an average of 8 basis points,” the company said. “Finally, when taking performance fees into account, share classes paying a performance fee are on average 43 basis points more expensive overall.”