How to use the Morningstar web portal
Joel Dresang: Kyle, the firm Morningstar has made some changes to its web portal, which Landaas and Company provides for clients. I wanted you to point out some of those changes and how investors can make the most of them.
Kyle Tetting: Yeah, you know Joel, I think the big thing is that Morningstar has really given more control to the user, more control to the investor as they look at their portfolio and ultimately allowing those investors to really pick and choose those things that make the most sense for them.
Joel: So show us some examples.
Kyle: A great example of kind of that greater control is the addition of this mountain chart that shows how your investments have done over time. And that time piece is critical because it’s not just how have they done year-to-date or over the last year but really kind of picking and choosing which dates make the most sense.
Joel: And I see different dates. So the ending balance is from the last market close, but the numbers for the total investment gain and for net investments, those are from the most recent month end. So tell me about those net investment numbers. What do those mean?
Kyle: As we look at net investment here, you can see that you’re counting the additions and withdrawals into the portfolio, and in particular, you can change the time period that you’re seeing those additions and withdrawals coming in. So for an investor, what you can really see is how much have I added, how much have I taken away – to get an idea of how that’s going to impact your investment objectives.
Joel: And at the bottom of the page, it lists the accounts that are in the portfolio. What use can I make of that?
Kyle: Really, when we look at an investor’s account, what we’re looking at is things in aggregate. We want to get an idea of how all of the pieces play together.
But I think it’s also important to remember that each of those accounts can have different objectives; each of those accounts can serve a different purpose. And so, you can actually click into these accounts and see what am I actually holding in these accounts? What’s causing differences in performance or differences in allocation between these? And is that designed to my objectives, or is there something here that I’m not expecting? You know, you really can get a better idea of what that is when, when you dig a little deeper.
The other thing I’ll point out as you look at the account level here is that you can see not just the individual holdings, but you can also see much of that same information that you can see in aggregate. So you can see that mountain chart. You can see additions and withdrawals. You can see what the allocation is with that donut chart. You know, it’s really useful to see not just again in the aggregate but also on that segregated, or on the account level, what things look like.
Joel: So there’s a new feature that allows investors to generate their own Snapshot report, which is a handy tool for evaluating your investments. What should investors know about that?
Kyle: You know Joel, for years Morningstar has had this Snapshot report available to us as advisors, but it was difficult for investors to get their hands on it without having to ask for it. So the ability to go in and run that report on your own, to pick and choose which accounts you’d like to be included in that report, I think that’s a really useful feature for investors to get a little more detailed information on what the makeup of their portfolio is.
Joel: Mostly, you’ve been talking about things in the Investments tab. What about that Documents tab?
Kyle: Joel, so as we look at the Documents tab, I think it’s really important for investors to remember that the goal here is secure communication: That we can deliver a document to an investor that includes personal information that doesn’t have to go through email. The investor also the ability to give us that information back without having to do it via email, without having to mail it in, without having to send it via fax. You can upload documents right to the web portal. There’s a nice button right there for you with pretty clear instructions on how to go about uploading documents. But again, it’s the ability to communicate securely via the web portal, as opposed to any of those other means.
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There’s one important thing to point out as you look at files within that web portal, and that is that Morningstar also gives you the ability to view those within the web portal itself in a kind of a pop-up version or a read-only version. But as you’re looking at those documents, if you want them to be fully functioning, you really do need to download them to your computer. That will allow all the links within documents that we might send to work. It will allow you to really get the full usefulness of the information that we’re sharing.
Joel: And what does this say about the bigger role of technology and updates in investment education?
Kyle: You know Joel, I think increasingly it’s been important to be able to communicate in different ways to clients. This is one more tool that we have to provide investors with a way to see what it is they hold, to provide investors information on their accounts and to better communicate. I think we do need to continue to rely on technology to better talk to clients, to better serve them and to make sure that their investments fulfill their objectives.
For additional information on the Morningstar web portal, including instructional videos and how to change your password, please click here.
(initially posted March 26, 2018)