CHICAGO, March 29, 2010—Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, today launched a complete upgrade of Morningstar® Advisor Workstation(SM), its research and investment planning software platform used by roughly one out of every four financial advisors in the United States.
Morningstar Advisor Workstation provides financial advisors with investment planning, client presentation, portfolio analysis, and investment research tools. It is licensed to and through institutions such as broker/dealers, custodians, and clearing firms as a web-based modular platform designed to work with a firm’s other back-office systems and applications. The new version includes all of the elements of the original, but incorporates the latest web technology with interface and usability improvements. Based on years of user feedback, Morningstar has designed a new user interface with more intuitive navigation, a home page, and dozens of new features to increase usability, allowing advisors to work smarter and manage their workflow more efficiently.
“We’ve listened to the industry, and we’re investing in significant technology upgrades, adding features to a refreshed Advisor Workstation that better serves advisors’ needs,” said Melinda Sgariglia, vice president of broker/dealer solutions at Morningstar. “Also, our new design and infrastructure will enhance our ability to make future developments to the platform.”
Based on feedback from current clients and requests from prospective clients, Morningstar has designed capabilities to help advisors optimize their experience. One of the most requested new features Morningstar added is the ability for Advisor Workstation users to work collaboratively with their peers, either within a group office or across multiple offices, via a new file sharing feature. Through file sharing, any record or file in Advisor Workstation that can be saved can also be shared with a colleague who is a registered user, and advisors can customize the permissions to each user and file.
The home page has a number of features to help advisors work more efficiently, including the ability to personalize the page’s view to meet their needs. A quick-start feature allows advisors to launch their most frequently-used tools with one click, while a top securities list provides the latest, at-a-glance performance statistics for securities used most frequently in the practice. Advisors can now generate popular reports like Investment Detail Reports and Quicktakes directly from the home page and they can prominently display their most recently modified files for easy access. A number of market-monitoring tools such as the Morningstar Market Barometer, a tool that provides instant analysis of market trends by Morningstar style index, can be displayed as well.
Advisor Workstation is still built on a modular platform that allows firms to configure to their specifications. The core capabilities of Advisor Workstation’s five existing modules have not changed, but Morningstar has added many functionality and usability improvements:
• The Clients and Portfolios Module now allows advisors to create portfolios with far fewer steps in a uniform, streamlined workflow, and advisors can create a library of model portfolios. Advisors can now zoom in on specific clients among their customer base—searching by targeted criteria such as zip code or amount of assets—and new on-screen portfolio views offer more visually compelling analytics.
• The Research Module now offers streamlined search logic to help advisors find securities faster, the ability to view four times as many on-screen results as in the current version of Advisor Workstation, and a new “All Securities” universe that permits searches and lists across investment types. New investment universes will also be available, beginning immediately with offshore funds. Hedge funds, preferred stocks and UITs will be available as optional universes by early 2011.
• The Hypotheticals Module, which creates real-world illustrations of past security and portfolio performance, now features the ability to generate reports at any step in the illustration process, new reports focused on distributions and withdrawals, and a “Rolling Returns” option to illustrate the impact of long-term investing.
• The new Planning Module, available early in the third quarter, will feature improved asset allocation and efficient frontier capabilities while the Defined Contribution Module, available in the fourth quarter, features a streamlined workflow for building plan lineups and reports.
Morningstar is also developing two new Advisor Workstation modules that the company expects to be available as integrated capabilities in early 2011. The Real-Time Module, powered by Morningstar QuoteSpeedTM, features real-time market data and news from dozens of international and U.S. sources, covering all major equity exchanges and indexes, as well as foreign exchange and Treasury markets. Coverage will also include futures, options, commodities, and precious metals. The Analyst Research Module will deliver Morningstar’s independent perspective, consistent methodology, and actionable insight for stocks, funds, ETFs, and IPOs. Advisors will also be able to access Morningstar analyst reports, watch videos, view data pages with key financial and historical information, and read insightful articles.
New Advisor Workstation clients will be launched on the 2.0 platform while existing clients will migrate to it over the next 18 months, based on a migration schedule Morningstar is establishing with each client.
For more information, please visit http://global.morningstar.com/workstation.
About Morningstar, Inc.
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of Internet, software, and print-based products and services for individuals, financial advisors, and institutions. Morningstar provides data on approximately 350,000 investment offerings, including stocks, mutual funds, and similar vehicles, along with real-time global market data on more than 4 million equities, indexes, futures, options, commodities, and precious metals, in addition to foreign exchange and Treasury markets. The company has operations in 20 countries and minority ownership positions in companies based in two other countries.
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