The annual Morningstar ETF Conference takes place this week in Chicago. (Photo: Jim Tweedy)

Morningstar said Tuesday that its board of directors has appointed Kunal Kapoor, the current president of the Chicago-based fund research firm, to serve as its new chief executive officer effective Jan. 1, replacing company founder Joe Mansueto.

Kapoor, 41, also will become a member of Morningstar’s board of directors, in early-2017, when Mansueto will become executive chairman of the board.

To limit the number of inside directors, Don Phillips, managing director of research, will voluntarily step down from the board, on Dec. 31. Phillips, though, will continue in his role as a managing director, focusing on research innovation.

“I can’t think of a better person than Kunal to lead Morningstar as we head into the next stage of our company’s innovation and growth,” Mansuto said in a statement. “He’s a Morningstar veteran who lives and breathes our mission of creating great products that help investors reach their financial goals. He has a breadth of experience across nearly every area of Morningstar—including research, data and software products, and investment management.”

Kapoor, he added, “has a unique ability to bring people together to help solve problems for investors, and I’m confident that his energy and management talent will help us drive operational excellence and future growth.”

As he turns 60, Mansueto said he’s ready to step into the executive chairman role, but will “still be very involved” with Morningstar. “But my role will focus more on strategy, capital allocation, advising Kunal and our senior team, and leading our board of directors,” adding that he’s “given this change a lot of thought over the past year… I’m looking forward to having a more flexible schedule and more time to think about investing and technology.”

Kapoor added in the statement that Morningstar has “a unique opportunity to leverage our capabilities in research, data and software to solve problems for investors. As the recent Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule has confirmed, our strong focus on putting investors’ interests first is as relevant as ever. We’ll continue to invest in our workforce, expand our core strengths in design and technology, and build on our strong position in the industry.”

Joining Morningstar as a data analyst in 1997, Kapoor has been president of the company since October 2015.

He previously served as head of global products and client solutions and has served in a variety of other leadership roles for Morningstar, including director of mutual fund analysis, director of business strategy for international operations, president and chief investment officer of Morningstar Investment Services, and head of Morningstar.com and the company’s data business.

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