There's still time to sign up for the Morningstar Investment Conference Sept. 22-24 in person in Chicago or virtually. If you haven't signed up yet, I'm letting you know that this is a great conference--and Morningstar knows how to do virtual events! Last year's MIC was fantastic, and I have no lower expectations for this one.
So, what am I excited about? First, I have to say content and speakers. The subject matter is timely and relevant, and the presenters are the who's who of the industry. I also have to admit that I'm looking forward to seeing how Morningstar betters itself with the virtual technology. This year, I'll be attending with a virtual reality headset. I'm not a gamer, so this should be enlightening and fun for me.
Here's my road map to highlights. High on my list are environmental, social, and governance issues and opportunities, what to expect and how to react to these crazy times, investing in a low interest-rate environment, and how to best communicate with clients. My favorite speakers include industry giants and Morningstar experts such as Pathstone's Mark Tibergien, Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates, Cheryl Holland of Abacus Planning Group, and Morningstar's Sarah Newcomb, Daniel Needham, Steve Wendel, Jon Hale, Christine Benz, and, of course, Kunal Kapoor.
Don't be scared by the number of my choices! Even if you can only attend a few sessions, you will benefit greatly. These sessions will be recorded and available for listening after the event. There are lots of education credits, too.
Here are my picks by day:
Wednesday Sept. 22
- Morningstar Fund Ratings Explained. It's always good to get a better understanding of the methodology behind the Morningstar ratings, including the Morningstar Rating (the "stars"), the Morningstar Analyst Rating (the "medals"), and the Morningstar Sustainability Rating (the "globes").
- Integrating ESG Into Investment Portfolios. Morningstar's top ESG experts will present Morningstar's new comprehensive approach to transitioning client portfolios to ESG. This session will be full of informative and practical content.
- Introducing Morningstar's Research on Model Portfolios. Many advisors use model portfolios of some type, and this session will definitely illuminate pros and cons as well as comparisons. Morningstar researchers will discuss the latest trends in model portfolios and best practices for evaluating model portfolios while highlighting the top-rated solutions.
- How ESG Shapes the Decision to Invest. Morningstar experts will discuss its recently conducted original research on how ESG options affect people who are investing for retirement and by how much. Questions to be answered include: Do ESG investment options increase the chance that people will become investors? Or do they backfire and undermine people's interests? This session is a must for advisors offering or considering ESG portfolios.
- Opening Keynote: Kunal Kapoor, CEO, Morningstar, Inc. For sure, you'll want to hear what Morningstar's CEO has to say.
- Navigating Today's Fixed-Income Minefields and Unearthing Opportunities. It's tough out there for fixed-income investing. This session is presented by two top economists who will share their expectations for fixed-income markets and where they are finding values in this tricky territory.
- Gloom or Boom? Two Wildly Different Perspectives on Equity Valuations Keynote. We know that nobody can predict the market, but what do we say to clients? Is the market overvalued or undervalued? Hear from top experts with different views.
- Investing in Strange Times: 2020's Implications for Long-Term Investors. This panel of Morningstar superstars will focus on how COVID-19 has impacted health, work, shopping, mobility, and energy to help advisors understand where investment opportunities lie in 2022 and beyond.
- How to Grow Your Practice by Embracing Diversity & Inclusion. Diversity is one of the most talked-about subjects these days. Hear from a panel of top industry leaders on how a diversity and inclusion focus can lead to a better practice. They will discuss topics such as conducting a cultural audit, considering the challenges and potentials for a wider base of recruiting, and building trust and career paths among a more diverse staff.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s. Morningstar values diversity of thought and publishes a broad range of viewpoints.