SAFE Working Paper No. 378

How Speculative Asset Characteristics Shape Retail Investors’ Selling Behavior

Using German and US brokerage data we find that investors are more likely to sell speculative stocks trading at a gain. Investors’ gain realizations are monotonically increasing in a stock’s speculativeness. This translates into a high disposition effect for speculative and a much lower disposition effect for non-speculative stocks. Our findings hold across asset classes (stocks, passive, and active funds) and explain cross-sectional differences in investor selling behavior which previous literature attributed primarily to investor demographics. Our results are robust to rank or attention effects and can be linked to realization utility and rolling mental account.