Our Thinking  ⟩  Trending Research

Our Thinking  ⟩  Trending Research


Trending Research

Our latest thinking and most sought-after analysis


Morningstar Direct U.S. Asset Flows Update–April 2019

Conduct competitive analysis, develop new products, and market managed investments using our comprehensive estimated asset flow and updated market share data.

Kevin McDevitt | May 17, 2019


2019 Target-Date Fund Landscape

Target-date funds saw significant increases in 2018, lifting assets in mutual funds and collective investment trusts to more than $1.7 trillion. In this paper, we uncover how components like investment process, fund managers, and firm performance impact target-date strategies.

Jeff Holt | May 09, 2019


Morningstar Markets Observer–Q1 2019 Data

Get timely macroeconomic and market data you can use with clients to discuss trends, set appropriate risk and return expectations, and explain investor behavior in this quarterly collection of charts and analysis.

Brian Deignan | Apr 30, 2019


Annual U.S. Fund Fee Study–2019

In Morningstar’s latest U.S. Fund Fee Study, our analysts unpack the investor and industry trends contributing to these market developments and provide a detailed look into various elements of the fee landscape.

Ben Johnson | Apr 30, 2019


Morningstar Sustainability Atlas

Examine the sustainability profiles of Morningstar’s 46 equity market indexes using company-level environmental, social, and governance scores.

Valerio Baselli | Apr 15, 2019


Gender and Diversity Funds: Intentional or Not?

We examine certain funds that have a primary focus on gender diversity and the conviction behind these funds. What we found suggests that there are varying degrees of intentionality.

Madison Sargis, Jackie Cook | Apr 01, 2019


Global Automotive Observer

We expect global light-vehicle demand to moderate in 2019, but this may decline if Europe and the U.K. fall into recession due to a no-deal Brexit or an international trade war arises. Morningstar's latest Automotive Observer offers a detailed look at the global automotive industry’s 2019 forecast.

Richard Hilgert | Mar 13, 2019


Market-Driven Scenario Analysis for Investment Research

We recently launched the Market-Driven Scenario Analysis tool to help investors, advisors, and analysts assess the impact that a market shock to the S&P 500, oil prices, or the price of an individual stock would have on portfolio returns, factor exposures, and volatilities.

Chau Pham, Michael O'Leary | Mar 13, 2019


A Global Guide to Strategic-Beta Exchange-Traded Products

Since we introduced our guide to strategic-beta ETPs in 2014, the space has evolved dramatically, resulting in the need for refined taxonomy and attributes that fully reflect the products’ nuances. This year’s guide puts the new approach into practice to provide the most comprehensive insights into the state of the strategic-beta ETP environment.

Alex Bryan | Mar 12, 2019


Fund Family 150 Highlights–Q4 2019

The Morningstar Fund Family 150 is a semiannual publication that gives you access to the same analytical rigor our own analysts use to keep tabs on the 150 largest fund families in the United States.

Morningstar Research Services | Feb 22, 2019


A New Perspective on Geographical Diversification: Revenue Exposure by Region

Morningstar’s new Revenue Exposure by Region tool can lead to improved outcomes for investors by providing detailed insights into the global makeup of equity indexes and portfolios. This paper is a first step in helping investors understand and incorporate geographic revenue sources into portfolio construction.

Morningstar Manager Research | Feb 19, 2019


Sustainable Funds U.S. Landscape Report

In our annual Landscape Report, Morningstar’s ESG research team examines the growth, performance, and changing nature of this emerging fund group.

Jon Hale | Feb 11, 2019


The Proxy Process: Raising the Investor Voice to Address New Risks

As the 2019 U.S. proxy season approaches, there’s a new wave of interest in proxy voting and stewardship. We look at how shareholder resolutions offer insightful perspective on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks.

Morningstar Manager Research | Feb 08, 2019


Quantitative Analytics Quarterly: A New Way to Identify Competitors

In this report, we introduce Morningstar Equity Comparables, a new data point that indicates the level of similarity between companies using a machine-based learning approach.

Taylor Hess | Feb 07, 2019


Morningstar’s European Active/Passive Barometer–February 2019

The Morningstar European Active/Passive Barometer is a semiannual report that measures the performance of European active managers against their passive peers within their respective categories.

Dimitar Boyadzhiev | Feb 07, 2019


Morningstar’s Active/Passive Barometer–February 2019

The Morningstar Active/Passive Barometer is a semiannual report that measures the performance of U.S. active managers against their passive peers within their respective categories.

Ben Johnson, Adam McCullough | Feb 07, 2019


2018 Global Fund Flows Report

Our annual report analyzes the flows that investors placed in global open-end funds and exchange-traded products. We look at what these trends reveal about investor preferences and behavior.

Kevin McDevitt | Feb 06, 2019


Preparing for a Low Carbon Economy

The Morningstar® Low Carbon Risk Index FamilySM provides diversified exposure to equities across regions, emphasizing companies that are aligned with the transition to the low-carbon economy. The indexes go beyond carbon footprinting, which reflects current emissions and represents just a starting point in an analysis of carbon risk.

Jon Hale, Dan Lefkovitz | Jan 30, 2019


Morningstar U.S. Prospects–December 2018

Discover up-and-coming or under-the-radar strategies in a quarterly list that our manager research analysts think may be worthy of full coverage in the future.

Christopher Franz | Jan 22, 2019


Morningstar Direct European Asset Flows Update–November 2018

Conduct competitive analysis, develop new products, and market managed investments using our comprehensive estimated asset flow and updated market share data.

Valerio Baselli and Ali Masarwah | Dec 20, 2018


Securities Lending: An Examination of the Risks and Rewards

Securities-lending programs' contribution to performance and potential to differentiate increasingly commoditized funds have come into sharper focus. In this paper, we explain why we believe the benefits of securities lending to fundholders outweigh the risks.

Adam McCullough | Dec 12, 2018


Brexit: A Morningstar View

This report on Brexit compiles key insights from Morningstar. We examine the impact of possible Brexit outcomes on investors and what investors should do now.

Emma Wall | Dec 10, 2018


Your KID’s First-Term Report

This paper examines the requirements of Key Information Documents (KIDs) and makes focused recommendations on how they could be improved.

Andy Pettit | Nov 22, 2018


Conflicts of Interest in Mutual Fund Sales

In this paper, we examine data from the SEC and Morningstar to quantify how payments to brokers drive fund flows and affect investor returns, and to determine the extent to which regulation has been effective in mitigating conflicts of interest.

Jasmin Sethi, Jake Spiegel, Aron Szapiro | Nov 15, 2018


The Health Savings Account Landscape–2018

Investors have few resources available to help them compare the hundreds of health savings account providers that exist. To provide a comprehensive resource about HSAs for investors, we evaluated 10 of the largest HSA providers.

Leo Acheson | Nov 12, 2018


Quantitative Analytics Quarterly: 3 Ways to Skin a Scenario

Scenario analysis is an essential tool for managing long-term expectations and exploring shorter-term volatility. We run a market event through our scenario analysis tools to examine the impact of user-defined constraints on portfolio returns.

Chau Pham, Michael O'Leary | Oct 25, 2018


The Effects of the Retail Distribution Review on Fund Fees in the UK

We look at the impact the RDR has had on open-end fund fees against the backdrop of the rise of passive investing, using a sample of funds that encompass the most commonly sought market exposures, from the viewpoint of a UK investor.

Jackie Beard | Oct 15, 2018


A Framework for Evaluating Strategic-Beta Bond Funds

Evaluate approaches to the portfolio construction processes for strategic-beta fixed-income funds using our framework.

Alex Bryan, Jose Garcia-Zarate | Oct 03, 2018


How Long Can a Factor-Based Portfolio Underperform?

We apply the concept of Longest Underperformance Period to factor-based portfolios and show that even factor-based portfolios that outperform over the long haul can have shockingly long stretches of underperformance.

Maciej Kowara, Paul Kaplan | Sep 17, 2018


How Does Sustainability Impact Investor Decisions?

Our quantitative research team attempts to decompose investor preferences for sustainable funds by examining the relationship between monthly fund flows and three Morningstar fund-level characteristics.

Madison Sargis, Dan Kleeman | Aug 17, 2018


Robo-Advisor Upgrade! Installing a Program for Profitability: Digital Advice Raises Profits for Investment Services Industry

Robo-advisors are developing new strategies to overcome faults with their original business model. We assess robo-advisors in light of evolving business models and conclude that select-robo advisors have a viable path to profitability.

Michael Wong | Jul 05, 2018


Mind the Gap 2018, U.S.

Morningstar’s latest annual investor returns study has found that the gap between official total returns and those actually experienced by investors across all mutual funds has shrunk to 26 basis points over the 10 years that ended March 2018.

Russel Kinnel | Jun 12, 2018


Quantitative Analytics Quarterly: What Factors Drive Investment Flows?

Over the past three years, investors preferred more established funds at a higher rate than the previous period studied. Our report also shows that performance is less of a driver of flows than three years ago.

Madison Sargis, Lee Davidson | May 22, 2018


Passive Sustainable Funds: The Global Landscape

See the global landscape of passive sustainable funds and the choices available to investors. We focus on two regions that have seen the greatest adoption of index-tracking sustainable funds—Europe and the United States.

Hortense Bioy, Kenneth Lamont | May 15, 2018


Finding Bond Funds That Can Beat Their Benchmarks After Fees

Typical active fixed-income fund managers struggle to beat the fund’s benchmark after fees. We look at historical excess returns distributions for funds in 25 Morningstar fixed-income categories to learn what drives underperformance.

Mara Dobrescu, Matias Möttölä | May 08, 2018


Measuring Transition Risk in Fund Portfolios: The Morningstar Portfolio Carbon Risk Score

Understanding the risks posed by climate change can help investors make better decisions. The Morningstar® Portfolio Carbon Risk ScoreTM is a new metric that investors can use to evaluate carbon risk at the portfolio level. The scores can be used to compare funds with each other and with their benchmarks.

Jon Hale | May 01, 2018


Annual U.S. Fund Fee Study–2018

Our manager research analysts evaluate the cost of U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in Morningstar's database and identify the latest fund fee trends in this annual study.

Patricia Oey | Apr 26, 2018


How Long Can a Good Fund Underperform Its Benchmark?

Funds that outperformed their benchmarks had also trailed that benchmark for an average of nine to 12 years sometime during that period, according to our study.

Maciej Kowara, Paul Kaplan | Mar 20, 2018


Fund Managers by Gender: Through the Performance Lens

Morningstar began formally studying fund managers by gender in 2015 after observing anecdotally that women are underrepresented in the fund industry. We looked at fund managers' performance by gender to see if the results help explain why there are so few fund managers who are women.

Madison Sargis, Kathryn Wing | Mar 08, 2018


Stop Guessing: Using Participant Data to Select the Optimal QDIA

We present a framework for using participant data to help determine which type of qualified default investment alternative, or QDIA, may be most appropriate for a plan.

Tom Idzorek, David Blanchett | Jan 30, 2018


Passive Fund Providers Take an Active Approach to Investment Stewardship

To better understand the investment stewardship activities of index managers, we surveyed the largest providers of index funds and exchange-traded funds across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Hortense Bioy, Alex Bryan | Dec 06, 2017


Morningstar Global Fund Investor Experience Study 2017

We created the Morningstar’s Global Fund Investor Experience to encourage a dialogue about best practices for mutual funds from the perspective of fund shareholders. This year we cover 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Anthony Serhan | Oct 09, 2017


LDI Misapplied: Income Portfolios and Liability-Driven Investing

Building efficient retirement income portfolios is complex. This paper explores the unique aspects of properly applying liability-driven investing to the creation of an asset allocation for an individual investor.

Thomas Idzorek, David Blanchett | Oct 02, 2017


The Aftermath of Fund Management Change

How does the typical fund fare after a management change, and how do investors react? Our research explores what impact management change has, if any, in a fund’s future performance.

Madison Sargis, Kai Chang | Jul 24, 2017


The Default Investment Decision: Weighing Cost and Personalization

When it comes to selecting a plan default investment, there are a number of factors to consider. Managed accounts typically come at a higher cost than target-date funds, but have the potential to deliver a higher level of personalization.

David Blanchett | Jun 07, 2017


The Fall of Funds: Why Some Funds Fail

Full fund closures can have significant negative consequences for investors. To better understand fund closures and their potential impact, we explored the factors leading to fund liquidations and mergers.

Madison Sargis, Lee Davidson | May 31, 2017


Fund Managers by Gender: The Global Landscape

Since 2015, we’ve studied where women have made progress or stepped backward within the fund industry. In this paper, we examined 26,000+ funds registered in 56 countries to learn what women are managing in financial markets globally.

Madison Sargis, Laura Pavlenko Lutton | Nov 28, 2016


Building Better Core Menus in the Age of Default Investments

With the mass adoption of default investment solutions in retirement plans, the type of investor that uses the core retirement plan menu has changed. Many participants are defaulted into solutions such as target-date funds and managed accounts.

David Blanchett, Daniel Bruns | Nov 28, 2016


The Glide Path Selection Problem: A Quantitative Approach to Assessing Glide Path Fit for DC Participants

The target-date decision has lacked consideration for glide path design, resulting in potential mismatch between the equity glide path used by the plan sponsor and the optimal glide path for the specific demographics of the plan participants.

Daniel Bruns, Lucian Marinescu | Mar 10, 2016

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