CHICAGO, Jan 18, 2001 Morningstar Associates LLC today unveiled a new version of its innovative online retirement planning service, Morningstar® ClearFutureSM. The latest release of ClearFuture, which is now available to participants in more than 7,000 401(k) plans, incorporates several enhancements to the programs three modules--research, education, and guidance/advice.
"We launched ClearFuture exactly one year ago and since that time have made a number of significant enhancements to the program. Our newest version is in direct response to suggestions made by focus groups, clients, and industry experts during our first year in this business," said John Rekenthaler, president of Morningstars online advice unit. "Our goal is to provide investors with the tools to build better portfolios. If they understand what they own, they can make smarter decisions that ultimately will help them achieve their financial goals."
Among the more than 25 new features of ClearFuture are the following:
Participants now can get instant online answers to any questions they may have as they work through the six steps of ClearFuture's Advice Center. A "Chat With Us" link on each page allows users to have a real-time, online conversation with a ClearFuture support representative.
Real-Time Market Information
Morningstar ClearFuture has added several new features to its home page. Among the changes are a real-time market monitor and weekly market wrap covering the major markets; a "Question of the Day," with answers culled from ClearFutures vast education archives; and a link to the popular "Improving Your Portfolio" column by Sue Stevens, Morningstar.coms financial planning expert.
A new tab folder on the home page neatly organizes options for users who want to revisit their portfolio, review their asset mix, or make changes to their investment plan.
Morningstar was the first company to introduce a practical two-goal approach to saving for retirement, asking investors to first identify their desired annual retirement income and then indicate a retirement income that will be acceptable if things dont work out as planned. This personalized assessment now projects how much retirement income the users current investment approach will produce and offers a corresponding investment plan. If users are dissatisfied with the results of their assessment, they can revise their income goal range and choose from a variety of new plans through the Answer Machine or What If? Tool.
Users now have more choices in shaping their final investment recommendations. In addition to control over the number of mutual funds in their recommended investment mix and the type of management style (active or passive), ClearFuture users can now specify the investment options they would like to include or exclude in their portfolio.
Company Stock Tool
Overweighting a retirement portfolio in the stock of one's employer is a concern to financial planners, who generally recommend that no more than 10% of a portfolio be allocated to any one stock. ClearFuture now features an improved company stock warning that delivers this prudent advice loud and clear. Users are given customized information on their holdings in company stock, an educational article with striking graphics, and the capability to select a sell-off rate that will gradually reduce their company stock weighting to an acceptable level.
Individuals whose corporate plans are not yet signed on with ClearFuture can access the 401(k) advice-only version of ClearFuture at http://www.morningstar.com.
About Morningstar Associates, LLC
The Morningstar® ClearFutureSM retirement advice program is provided by Morningstar Associates, LLC, a registered investment adviser and a wholly owned subsidiary of Chicago-based Morningstar, Inc., an independent provider of reliable, unbiased investment information and analytical tools. Morningstar Inc.s extensive line of Internet, software, and print services offers news, data, and analysis on stocks, mutual funds, closed-end funds, and variable annuities. Neither Morningstar Inc., nor Morningstar Associates, LLC, owns and operates, or holds any interest in investment products. The financial data and methodology used in ClearFuture are proprietary to Morningstar, Inc., and/or Morningstar Associates, LLC. Although the data are gathered from reliable sources, neither Morningstar, Inc. nor Morningstar Associates, LLC guarantees their accuracy, completeness, or timeliness. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.