January 16, 2012

New Tool for Alpha Generation: S&P MarketScope

Most advisors seek to invest their clients’ money prudently. Some will take this a step further, preferring to do their own due diligence, and as a result, attempt to secure tools which will help them do so. There is a common belief among many that if we can only find the right tool, the right software, the right analytic, we can produce more Alpha. Yes, Alpha, that's the ultimate goal. 

In my business I have been using Morningstar's Principia Advanced and Stocks module. Basically, I've identified 20-25 different points of data that I believe to be important in the selection of funds and ETFs. Then I search for funds in specific categories, export the data to Excel, and produce a Fiduciary Score on each. The Score ranges from 1-100 where 100 is the best. This monthly process has allowed me to select, monitor and maintain high-quality funds. However, in the relentless pursuit of finding the "best" tool, I stumbled on another one this past week. That tool is called S&P MarketScope. I signed up for their free 14 day trial and this is what I've found....so far. 

At this point, I do not believe MarketScope will replace the aforementioned Morningstar offering. However, it does possess some very unique features and produces benefits that MS doesn't include, and which are very useful. I should also mention that the data feed for the S&P tool comes from Lipper. 

This tool consists of mountains of news, data on stocks, open- and closed-end funds, ETFs, options and individual bonds. It also includes a hypothetical tool. While I prefer the existing search process in the Principia tool, in my opinion, the hypothetical tool from S&P is a great improvement over Morningstar’s  hypo tool. One thing I especially like are the reports the MarketScope tool produces. Because it's not possible to explain all the nuances of every report, suffice it to say that I really like their look, feel and usefulness. With that, I'll skip to the bottom line of pricing, packaging, etc. 

S&P offers discounts based on the B/D you use. Therefore, I'll center my discussion on the way they package their product. You can choose to subscribe to any individual module, or you can choose their Silver package, Gold package, or perhaps something more. Their Silver package contains open- and closed-end funds, ETFs, stocks, the hypothetical tool, model portfolios, and more news feeds than you could ever digest. 

In summary, I am still evaluating MarketScope. I do believe S&P has room for improvement (as do most tools), but so far, I really like this tool. If this is something that interests you, I encourage you to check it out. 

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

 

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