Morningstar for Advisors iPad App
After launching the Morningstar for iPad app aimed at individual investors, we wanted to address the needs of financial advisors. We knew from surveys and informal research at events that iPads were becoming more popular as a secondary device in an advisor’s practice, but we weren’t totally sure what purpose they were serving or how an iPad app might augment Morningstar’s world-class desktop software. With that question in mind, we conducted interviews with small groups of advisors in Chicago and London. Almost all of the advisors we spoke to saw the iPad as a tool for communicating with clients and a way to reduce the amount of paper they carried with them to client meetings. We launched the initial version of the app about six months later with two main areas: Clients and Markets.
Being an app largely focused on helping with client communication, the Clients section is the largest and most robust. Here we started with a client summary screen that includes all of the most important information an advisor needs to orient themselves and their client during a regular check-in. The summary screen includes a section for all of the reports that have been generated for this client, directly allowing the advisor to cut down on the amount of paper she needs to carry around with her.
If an advisor needs additional detail on a specific client account, she just taps the account in the list and is presented with the account summary. Similar to the client summary screen, the account summary is meant to be a quick view into the account, highlighting the most important information.
After selecting an account, the advisor can swipe over to a more detailed data grid. Here we curated four different data sets that included the 60 most frequently used data points from Mornignstar Office and Morningstar Advisor Workstation.
We also included an iPad-optimized version of one of our most popular reports, the Portfolio X-Ray. This report looks at the underlying holdings of the funds in a portfolio to help an advisor and her client really understand what is in the portfolio.
During our research, advisors told us they dreamed of a day when they could pack only an iPad when heading out for client meetings. In order to help make that dream more of a reality we knew we needed to include a way for an advisor to stay updated on what was happening in the markets between meetings. The initial version of the app launched with the Markets Overview and gave advisors on-the-go access to news, commentary, and up-to-date market data across 16 global indexes, including access to what stocks were moving the most.
In a later update to the app we added the Global Market Barometer. This visualization gives advisors a quick way to see what is happening in markets across the globe. The visualization includes two different lenses for evaluating the markets: performance and valuation. The valuation lens leverages Morningstar IP to help advisors understand what markets might offer good opportunities for investing.
About a year after launching the initial version of the app we added the Practice Dashboard. This dashboard acts as a starting point for the advisor’s day, giving her a view into her clients (including demographic breakdowns), models she frequently uses to build client portfolios, the top securities held across those portfolios, and the overall performance of her practice. That practice performance graph turned out to be pretty groundbreaking for advisors; after launching it, we heard from multiple advisors that they normally spent hours per month calculating the information in that graph. Now they just had to open the app, leaving them more time to focus on serving their clients.