Before we get too far into 2020 and the year of vision puns, we wanted to take a moment to recap where Direct has been over the course of the past year. 2019 was a year of enrichment, and we rolled out several new capabilities within Direct as a response to both client feedback and where we see the industry heading.
Strategic Work on Strategies
With the proliferation of investment vehicle types, and the convergence of “institutional” and “retail” investing, we see a continued emphasis on the evaluation of an investment’s strategy before a decision is made on what type of fund is selected to employ that strategy. As such, we broadened the availability of data on strategies with an alliance with Mercer that went live in 2019. We now cover 33,000+ investment strategies within Direct and this collective intelligence on strategy and financial vehicle data provides a differentiated ability to view research and run analytics on both strategies and the investment vehicles those strategies holds. Keep on the lookout in the next few weeks for the next phase of this project that ties the Morningstar and Mercer data sets even more closely together.
As part of this effort we also separated CIT’s, Separate Accounts, and Models into their own investment universes within Direct. This allows investment professionals of all flavors to look at these investment types in a more focused manner that their distinct structure warrants.
Enhancements to Portfolio Construction
Relatedly, as conversations across the investing spectrum increasingly focus on the context of the end portfolio, we’ve enhanced our portfolio construction capabilities within Direct. This includes the addition of an optimization feature that allows for the automatic construction of a portfolio based on constraints and objectives that you’re looking to achieve.
A Focus on Risk
We spent a lot of time in 2019 enhancing Direct’s Risk Model. We rolled out Market Driven Scenario Analysis which allows you to shock an index or investment and see the corresponding impact on an investment or portfolio based on Monte Carlo simulations. We also rolled out multiple new models which enhances coverage for certain funds including models in various currencies, regional models, and the first deployment of a multi-asset model to cover the fixed income sleeves of a portfolio. In the first part of 2020 you’ll see big enhancements to the fixed income portion of our multi asset model, including coverage increases as well as the ability to model credit factors.
At the end of October, we made enhancements to both our Morningstar Analyst Rating for funds as well as our Morningstar Sustainability Rating. Our Analyst Rating now takes differences in fees into account and makes the Ratings easier to understand, more relevant to decisions investors and financial professionals make, and more effective in helping you achieve better outcomes.
The update to the Sustainability rating helps with a greater understanding of the financial vulnerability investments face from materially significant ESG risks. This incorporates company-level absolute risk ratings and now scores the same across all economic sectors.
The Overall Experience
We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight some of the work that makes the Direct platform easier to use. We enhanced the UX to add in new analytical views to make lists, screens, and portfolios easier to analyze. You can now also export all our visual components to a PDF. We’re expanding on this work in the next month to make the navigation and experience within Direct even better.
Looking forward to 2020, we will be working hard on closing the data and functional gaps that exist between our Direct Desktop and Web experiences, to make continual use as easy as possible. As always, we’re incredibly thankful to have you all as clients and to continue this journey with you. We love to hear from you so please keep submitting feedback, and we look forward to a successful 2020.