Acknowledging that not all advisors will use the entire set of Web-based tools in the costly Morningstar Advisor Workstation research and financial planning application, Morningstar Inc. is now offering up a cheaper alternative. Instead of buying the whole package at a list price of $5,000 per year for each user, advisors can purchase modules that perform specific tasks for $1,000 to $2,000 apiece.

Geoff Balzano, product manager for Advisor Workstation at Morningstar, says the Chicago company is offering these alternatives to purchasing the full suite:

o A research module, at $1,500 per year per user.

o Portfolio monitoring, $1,000

o Asset allocation and hypotheticals, $1,000

o Investment planning, featuring Monte Carlo-based tools, $2,000.

By purchasing the whole package, advisors will save 10% off the price of buying modules individually. But Balzano says the new modular menu may suit current users of the CD-ROM based Principia, whose most widely used features remain stock and mutual fund research and screening, and report generation. Including all its modules, Principia Pro Plus, Morningstar’s top-of-the-line CD-ROM application, sells for between $2,200 and $2,300 a year for each user, Balzano says.

Although Morningstar Advisor Workstation can be more than twice as expensive as Principia, some broker/dealers are purchasing it in bulk and allowing representatives to buy the product at a steep discount, he adds. Others are purchasing individual modules to add to their Web-based services.

Information on Advisor Workstation is available at http://advisor.morningstar.com/