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Morningstar Unveils Cloud Platform Integrating Client Data and Research

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Morningstar has announced Morningstar Office Cloud, a new cloud-based practice and portfolio management platform for advisors.

The latest software development, which was unveiled at the Schwab Impact 2017 conference on Thursday, brings together Morningstar’s data, analytics and research tools with the ability to integrate client data into a single, web-based experience that can replace multiple legacy systems.

The new software has been in beta for the past four to five months and has more than 800 of Morningstar’s advisors already signed up.

Morningstar will be making the Office Cloud available to new clients in the first quarter of 2018.

While there are other practice and portfolio management platform providers out there — like Tamarac or Black Diamond — Dermot O’Mahony, head of software products at Morningstar, said that no one else has integrated research content so deeply into the platform.

“The real differentiator is the ability to bring that research content together with the client information and then be able to surface that combined view of the client — to both the client and the advisor so that they can make better investment decisions,” O’Mahony told ThinkAdvisor at Schwab Impact. “There’s really nothing out there — to the best of my knowledge — that combines all of those things together. And we should know because we provide most of the research content to the rest of the industry.”

Morningstar Office Cloud brings together all aspects of an advisor’s practice to a single system to help streamline workflow and eliminate data-processing bottlenecks.

The new cloud-based architecture is a fully web-based experience on all devices featuring real-time market monitoring capabilities, increased data security, customizable components such as an actionable dashboard and portfolio views, and the seamless delivery of Morningstar research.

O’Mahony explained that an advisor can come in and look at a client’s account and then pull up Morningstar research based on what’s happening in the client’s account.

“For example, let’s say one of the investments had gone down a little bit,” O’Mahony explained. “They can automatically click on that and bring up a report on how the security has performed, any sort of analyst notes — both positive and negative with regard to that security, how is that security comparing to its peer group?”

This would help in the case that there’s a mutual fund or ETF that isn’t performing in the client’s account and the advisor wants to replace it.

“They can easily then use Morningstar’s research capabilities there to be able to say ‘I want to remove Mutual Fund A that has a large cap U.S. exposure. What is the next best U.S. large cap exposure?’”

For the capabilities that Morningstar doesn’t have, tight integration with third-party software packages allows advisors to customize their experience while maintaining a single source of client and investment data.

“For example, if you are an RIA and you were doing a full-fledged financial plan, we don’t do full-fledged financial planning. And so in a scenario like that you would use MoneyGuidePro, who is integrated in with Morningstar Office,” O’Mahony explained.

The solution also offers a client web portal, where clients can access their reports at any time on multiple devices.

— Check out Morningstar’s Good and Bad 529 Savings Plans in 2017 on ThinkAdvisor.