After a two-year stint at Morningstar’s HQ in Chicago, NZ re-pat, Chris Douglas, is raring to apply the global experience to his new role as director of manager research ratings Asia-Pacific.
Douglas, who returned to his native NZ near the end of October, said the offshore experience offered a valuable insight into the range of investment knowledge and tools in the Morningstar warehouse.
He said there was a lot of scope for Morningstar to adapt the group’s global IP to the Australasian context with a focus on “thought leadership”.
“For example, Morningstar has had a lot coverage internationally on retirement issues,” Douglas said. “And in the US we’ve developed some very powerful behavioural finance research that could be rolled out in Australia and New Zealand.”
Last year, Morningstar struck a deal with environmental, social and governance (ESG) research firm, Sustainalytics, which supplies the data for its own global ESG fund rating system launched this March.
Douglas said while the ESG field was “a big growth area”, Morningstar was also building on its more traditional fund research capacity.
“We now have access to a large fixed income database that will give us greater information about underlying securities in a fund,” he said. “We’ll be able to do a deep dive into fixed income funds and provide a more sophisticated analysis of the portfolios.”
In May this year Morningstar bought fixed income data firm, InvestSoft, which through its ‘BondPro Fixed-Income Calculation Engine “provides more than 130 analytic and accounting calculations”, according to an announcement at the time.
Frannie Besztery, head of data for Morningstar, said in the May release: “… InvestSoft’s analytics will help us create a more complete view of mutual fund and exchange-traded fund portfolios, providing investors with better transparency into bond funds.”
Douglas said the new fixed income capability, and other Morningstar global tools, would be integrated into the Australasian operations.
But after his two-year absence, Douglas was also reacquainting himself with the Australian and NZ markets. He said despite the lengthy hiatus the industry hadn’t changed too much since his departure in 2014 for Chicago.
“There’s a lot of continuity from when I was here previously,” Douglas said. After an eight-year career with Morningstar in Australia and NZ, he picked up the role as regional data leader Americas for the research house in 2014. However, following the resignation of the recently-promoted Kathryn Young – now working with the Myer Family investment firm – he was tempted back home to assume the head of manager research Asia-Pacific role.
“It’s relatively straightforward stepping back,” Douglas said. “But I do have to remember to pronounce ‘data’ the right way again.”
Douglas will be based in the Morningstar Auckland office.