Morningstar has downsized its New Zealand operations, shifting sales and local stock research duties to the Sydney headquarters.
Following the shake-up, only data specialist Greg Bunkall, and Elliot Smith, fund research analyst, have been guaranteed roles in Morningstar’s to-be-relocated Auckland office.
A Morningstar spokesperson said Stuart Auld, head of sales in NZ since 2010, “will be working to help us manage the transition”.
“We’re discussing other potential opportunities within our business with equity analyst Nachi Moghe,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the changes reflected the reality that most Morningstar New Zealand clients are part of “Australasian” businesses.
“We’ve undertaken a review of our growth prospects and our existing and potential sales activity levels in New Zealand,” he said. “We’ve identified growth opportunities from the major New Zealand financial institutions, most of which are headquartered in Australia.
“In our discussions, key decision-makers have indicated the need to manage business development and sales for both countries as one.”
The Morningstar spokesperson said housing New Zealand stock research in Sydney would lead to a “deeper sector-focused analysis” with analysts working inside a broader team structure.
“We’re still committed to providing quality, timely, and independent research on New Zealand stocks, and our Sydney research staff will visit New Zealand periodically to meet the companies we cover, as has always been the case with our fund manager research,” he said.
However, the latest Morningstar downgrade marks another blow for locally-domiciled research facilities after two other Australian firms, Lonsec and the now-defunct van Eyk Research, abandoned their New Zealand beachheads over the last few years.
In April, the NZX-owned FundSource also bowed out of the qualitative fund research game, switching to a quant-only product managed by UK firm Financial Express.
The Morningstar spokesperson said the group remain committed to NZ, digging in over the “past three years when other research providers have come and gone”.
“We’re not shutting down our New Zealand office,” he said. “We will be looking for more suitable office space.”