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Morningstar App Brings Office, Advisor Workstation to iPad

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Morningstar released a new app for the iPad on Wednesday to complement the desktop versions of Morningstar Office and Advisor Workstation. Advisors will be able to track their clients’ portfolios, conduct analysis and access Morningstar research and data through the platform.

“It’s our goal to help advisors be more efficient and also more effective in their practice,” Tricia Rothschild, head of global advisor solutions for Morningstar, told ThinkAdvisor on Monday. “Helping them both with what you may call practice management and using their time wisely and also delivering really good investment outcomes for their client and being able to engage with their clients in a way that helps them help their clients meet their goals.”

Rothschild said Morningstar reaches about half of advisors in the U.S. through Office and Advisor Workstation.

Advisors can view their clients’ aggregated portfolios as well as specific information for each account. For now, the iPad app is a reporting tool only, with no capabilities for conducting transactions. Part of the reason for that is simply that a lot of what advisors do on Office and Advisor Workstation, like importing transactions and reconciling, is more comfortable with a keyboard and a mouse, Subash Ramnani, Morningstar’s senior product manager for mobile solutions, said on Monday.

“The advisors will be doing their heavy lifting, importing all their clients’ portfolios and transactions on the desktop platform, running all the reports that they spit out and present to their clients and making it available through the iPad app,” Ramnani said during a demo of the app for ThinkAdvisor.

He added that based on feedback from users, future versions of the app might include certain capabilities like running a report from the app instead of on the desktop and downloading it to view later.

Rothschild added that “changing portfolio holdings or making allocation decisions on the go introduces another level of compliance concerns that we’ll address if we choose to go down that path.”

In user testing, Ramnani said advisors were pleased with the ability to target specific parts of a client’s portfolio during meetings instead of relying on paper reports. “Once you start to circle these pieces of paper there are compliance issues. [With the app], you have this read-only report you can share with your clients through various mechanisms.”

Reports downloaded to the app are also available offline. Ramnani said Morningstar found many advisors don’t use cellular data on their tablets and rely on Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Internet.

The app is free, but is only available on the iPad, at least for the foreseeable future. “The research that we have, at least U.S.-specific, the tablet market is dominated by Apple. When you get into the advisor space, it’s even more dominated by Apple,” Ramnani said. “As we go global, it’s something we’ll think about, but for right now, when it comes to tablets, our strategy is to stick just with Apple products.”

— Check out Best Fund Managers of 2014: Morningstar on ThinkAdvisor.