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MICUS 2020: Risks and Opportunities in Investing and Practice Management

A look at the research and insights we’ll be exploring at our annual financial advisor conference.

There’s never been a better time for great advice and, in many ways, there’s never been a better time to be an independent advisor either.

For instance, you and your clients have inexpensive, transparent investment tools and faster, cheaper technology. But some of the challenges of being an advisor have also gotten harder. For example, as clients’ expectations have grown, so has demonstrating your value-add to them.

This is a central point of the Morningstar Investment Conference, which has been the go-to annual investing event for independent advisors since 1988. It’s the only financial advisor conference focused on investing ideas, portfolio-manager access, and keeping up with the latest in investing research. It’s your chance to take a step back and catch up on important developments in investing over the past year so that you can look forward to the next.

While the 2020 agenda is packed with the types of sessions you’ve grown to expect from Morningstar, there are some exciting new learning opportunities to consider, as well.

ESG Is a Top Focus of Keynote Presentations

It’s hard to avoid environmental, social, and governance these days, but for good reason: It has emerged as the most significant new trend, both as an expressed client preference and as a new set of risk factors that must be incorporated into evaluating publicly traded businesses, the bedrock of clients’ portfolios.

Kunal Kapoor’s opening keynote will touch on Morningstar’s deepening commitment to ESG. We also expect our all-star panel of fixed-income strategists to touch on green finance and our all-star panel of advisors to address the impact of ESG on practice management during the keynote advisor panel on Thursday morning.

ESG will reach a crescendo on Friday morning as Morningstar experts demonstrate how we’ve incorporated ESG risks into our bottom-up research processes. Plus, Morningstar head of manager research Jeff Ptak and director of personal finance Christine Benz interview BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink, who has emerged as a leader in raising ESG’s profile in both investing and society at large.

Our main-stage presentations will also cover topics other than ESG. Author and investment strategist Michael Mauboussin of Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global team will open our minds to counterintuition in investing and Cynthia Marshall will share her inspiring personal journey to helming the Dallas Mavericks. We’ll also hear Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder’s harrowing account of getting on the wrong side of Vladimir Putin.

New Opportunities to Dig Into Retirement and the Future of Investing

To address investors’ top concerns, we’re offering two new thematic tracks this year:

  • Rethinking Retirement. Investors have been enjoying a decade-long bull market, but retirement planning is still far from easy. While accumulation has arguably been conquered, today’s challenges in decumulation and the changing nature of retirement have given advisors new rows to hoe. Our Rethinking Retirement track will help you stay current with these trends and navigate these problems.
  • The Future of Investing. This means the future of investing as it relates to investments themselves as well as your management of client goals going forward. The session “Is Digital Finance Eating My World?” will help you think through the opportunities and threats new platforms present to your practice, while our keynote advisor panel featuring XY Planning Network CEO Alan Moore, independent financial advisor Cathy Curtis, and Morningstar managing director Don Phillips will address wider-ranging issues such as ESG, onboarding millennial clients, and effectively incorporating technology.

Meat and Potatoes: Investing Ideas

True to its name, the MIC remains true to its heritage as a financial advisor conference. You’ll hear from more than 40 external portfolio managers and strategists, including Anne Mathias of Vanguard, Steve Romick of First Pacific Advisors, Rick Rieder of BlackRock, and James Anderson of Baillie Gifford. An air of contrarianism is sure to permeate the conversations.

While the focus of Morningstar’s 250-strong research staff is bottom-up assessments of stocks and actively managed funds, we realize that passive vehicles are playing an ever-bigger role in your clients’ portfolios. For this reason, we’ve organized conversations with experts from the biggest players, spanning topics such as direct indexing, exchange-traded fund trading, and ETF tax strategies.

We’ll profile the work of our research teams in a packed morning of sessions on Wednesday. Research Showcase is designed to not only bring you up to date on our latest findings but also provide opportunities to learn about some of the basics of Morningstar, including our ratings systems, and interact with our researchers one-on-one.

We hope that you’ll take the opportunity for a short sabbatical from your daily routines by joining us in Chicago for two and half days of intellectual stimulation and networking with like-minded advisors and service providers.

Get these insights and more at MICUS 2020.
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