The new, improved Morningstar Workstation is likely to be well received by independent B/Ds and their reps. But it may be less appreciated by RIAs. Morningstar Workstation, originally released in August 2001, was the first step in building on Morningstar’s category-dominating mutual fund research and analytics tool, Principia, by distributing the software as a Web-based ASP and adding a sophisticated investment goal-planning module. The new version incorporates yet more functionality into Workstation, including customer relationship management, customizable investment policy statements, and new portfolio analytics.
For B/Ds, Workstation could be an important addition. B/Ds like Web-based applications because they must monitor their reps for compliance purposes, and keeping the data on a B/D-owned server tightens a rep’s dependency on the firm.
Morningstar customizes Workstation to a B/D’s need–including, for instance, the goal-planner but not the CRM module, or providing access only to certain securities databases, such as funds, variable annuities, ETFs, closed-ends, and stocks. UBS PaineWebber, A.G. Edwards, American Express, and Raymond James Financial Services are among 60 institutions to have customized Workstation for their reps, and Morningstar is now integrating Workstation with StatementOne, the most widely used account reporting tool among independent B/Ds.
The combination of StatementOne with Workstation will mean reps can call up research reports and perform analytics on client holdings more easily and with less data input.
Workstation would be a great new toolset for most independent registered reps. Most are not using any financial planning software, much less one that is goals-based and that uses Monte Carlo simulations for investment risk. Most reps have not committed all of their client contact information to a database such as Outlook, GoldMine, or ACT!, much less Junxure, Junxure-i, or ProTracker. Many lack easy access to a research tool like Principia or analytic tools of that caliber.
Moreover, Workstation lists funds similar to ones in a portfolio, lets you create and store model portfolios that can be used as the foundation in building all your client portfolios, and allows you to personalize template investment recommendation documents for your clients and prospects. Most importantly, reps and B/Ds benefit from enterprise pricing when putting hundreds or thousands of people on customized implementation of Workstation. Reps are likely to pay little or nothing for the application. Workstation can be a quick way for a B/D to elevate the way its reps practice, especially as Morningstar integrates with more clearing firms and other popular professional software applications.