Morningstar is pitching its index services to New Zealand fund managers in a direct swipe at the recently-repriced S&P/NZX indices.
Heather Brilliant, head of Morningstar Australasia, told an industry audience gathered at the research house’s NZ fund manager of the year awards in Auckland last week that index data “should be a commodity”.
Brilliant said Morningstar had already begun sounding out NZ managers about the potential to offer its extensive index data as benchmarking tools.
Last year the NZX significantly hiked up its index charges for fund managers following a deal with global provider S&P to issue a new range of co-branded benchmarks in New Zealand.
The changes saw benchmarking costs rocket more than 10-fold from the previous annual charge of $1,500 to $17,500, according to several fund managers. While most managers were forced to absorb the extra costs, the hefty increase also spurred a search for alternative indexing options.
Last year the London Stock Exchange-owned index provider, FTSE Russell, tested the NZ market for interest in its benchmark products.
As at press-time the details of the Morningstar NZ index offer were not available. However, Brilliant told Investment News NZ last week the local funds industry had expressed interest in the Morningstar benchmarks.
“We recognise there would be transition issues for some managers,” she said.
The research house has also started providing environment, social and governance (ESG) analysis on a range of New Zealand funds, covering three asset classes and over 40 products, Tim Murphy, Morningstar head of manager research, told the award-night audience.
Morningstar struck a deal with global corporate researcher, Sustainalytics, last August to supply ESG ratings. Sustainalytics has since opened a stand-alone office in Sydney.
In the Morningstar awards proper, Harbour Asset Management was named NZ fund manager of the year.
Morningstar said Harbour had proved itself an “outstanding steward of its investors’ capital”.
“Originally established as a domestic equities house, the firm has expanded its offering, which now encompasses fixed interest and global capabilities, in a sensible and well-structured manner,” the researcher said in a statement. “Performance across all asset classes was top-notch in 2015, with investors benefitting from shrewd security selection and well-judged portfolio positioning in difficult market conditions.”
Harbour beat out ANZ Investments and Nikko Asset Management for the top prize. The Wellington-based manager also took out the award in the fixed income category.
Mint Asset Management was crowned best NZ equities manager with ANZ Investments and Milford Asset Management winning the global shares and KiwiSaver categories, respectively.
The full list of winners and finalists is below:
New Zealand Fund Manager of the Year: Harbour Asset Management
Finalists: ANZ Investments, Nikko Asset Management
Fixed Interest Category, New Zealand: Harbour Asset Management
Finalists: AMP Capital, Nikko Asset Management
Domestic Equities Category, New Zealand: Mint Asset Management
Finalists: Harbour Asset Management, Milford Asset Management
International Equities Category, New Zealand: ANZ Investments
Finalist: AMP Capital
KiwiSaver Category, New Zealand: Milford Asset Management
Finalists: ANZ Investments, ASB Investments