The name Morningstar Inc. has been preceded by the words “mutual fund research firm” for so long that it seems as linked to that description as is the term “rosy-fingered” to “dawn” in Homer’s Odyssey. Yet the new and coming-soon tools on display at the Chicago-based company’s June investment conference make it clear that the firm is intent on striking further afield.
Want a database of separate account products that can be cross-referenced with other Morningstar software to determine a client’s overall exposure to a specific security, whether it’s held in a separate account, mutual fund, or as an individual stock? Want it to indicate account minimums for various firms, tell you which channels you can find each product in, and reveal exactly what steps each firm is willing (or unwilling) to take to provide portfolio customization and tax efficiency for clients? Just wait ’til August, when Morningstar will unveil Principia for Separate Accounts, its database of 1,700 products from 500 firms, says Ryan Tagal, product manager for the new tool. (Cost for an annual subscription will be $1,995, discounted to $795 for those who sign up by July 31.)
Wish somebody would organize all the stats on 529 plans into a searchable database complete with tools to help you explain the state tax implications of different plans to clients and illustrate possible asset growth outcomes? Just hold your horses ’til September, when Morningstar plans to launch its 529 plan tool–first as a Web-based application available on MorningstarAdvisor.com, then as a module of Morningstar Advisor Workstation, according to Chris Boruff, president of Morningstar Advisor Business.
Or perhaps you’re hunting for a database of ETFs or variable annuities? Just check out a subscription to Morningstar Advisor Workstation. The info on ETFs has been available since May; the stats on VAs have been published since January.