24/04/2023 - News & Insights

Achieving successful investor outcomes

I got a clear sense that Morningstar is building teams and products centred around long term, successful investor outcomes and I wanted to be a part of that.

After leaving my previous role in banking last summer I took some much-needed time with my family to reflect on my journey to date and what I wanted to do next. It was important to do that and I’m glad I did.

Dylan Navra, Morningstar Wealth’s international Head of Product contacted me and after speaking to him and Derek Smith, our Chief Technology Officer, I was immediately inspired. It was refreshing to see our product and engineering leadership team so completely aligned on a shared vision. You don’t always see that in technology companies, but it was definitely something I was seeking.

I’ve studied Morningstar’s history, wanting to understand more about founder Joe Mansueto’s motivations for establishing the company. What really stood out was how investor success was and is deeply ingrained in the core of the business. As I’ve spent more time with our global teams across operations, account management, product and engineering, that same principle shines through.

I’ve spent 17 years in financial services across enterprise, startups and scale ups. Customer centricity and delivering great outcomes for our customers is hugely important to me.

I’m particularly passionate about the role technology can play in supporting customers during key life moments. Financial advice can be crucial when making decisions around retirement planning, saving and investing, for example. These decisions can be both complex and time consuming and technology can help to create simpler, accessible and genuinely engaging customer experiences.

I‘ve been fortunate to experience and lead similar levels of business transformation across the banking industry and, looking back over the past 10 years specifically, it’s remarkable how the customer experience has been completely transformed. Banking has shifted from voice and branch based to being truly omni-present. Many felt the industry wasn’t ready at that time but fast forward to now and video, social and mobile banking are constants in many of our lives.

Yes, the demographics of our end-customer base are slightly different, but the last three years have really accelerated digital adoption for everyone. I’m excited to see how we can use our technology to enable moment-led conversations between advisers and their clients. We’re in a fortunate position in Morningstar to own our technology. That lets us be ambitious in bringing about the change the industry needs and quickly. It’s an exciting prospect.

My immediate priority is immersing myself in the world of our adviser clients and really understanding how they engage with their customers, our investors.  

I’m on a learning curve with wealth management as a domain, having spent most of my time inside of or building products for retail, business and corporate banking customers and clients. There’s plenty to learn but the great news is, at its core, this industry isn’t dissimilar and the opportunities that exist are familiar to me.

We’re certainly not going to be a technology company that builds products in darkened rooms, so discovering and developing opportunities with our adviser clients will be key for me and our teams.

I’m a big believer in data informed decision-making, and the power that access to robust data can bring to problem solving. What that means for our investors, adviser clients and colleagues is we can develop an awesome set of products, blended with our unique Morningstar offerings, to help make the lives of the people we serve much, much easier.

The needs of our customers are changing faster and more frequently than ever before and that not only requires different methodology, processes and toolkit but most importantly a change in mindset.

The objective for us at Morningstar is not to build what we think our customers need, spending months on secret developments before a big reveal. Instead, we favour a mindset of continually learning, understanding and adapting. Continuous Discovery is the embodiment of all that and I can’t wait to start developing it with our adviser customers.

We’re in the business of enabling truly great outcomes for investors. That means we want to develop ideas in collaboration with our customers, prospective customers, colleagues and investors alike.

Discovery is a development phase that software companies use to ‘discover’ the problem and opportunity space. It’s typically a focused ‘once and done’ phase, but the continuous nature we’re applying will incorporate that level of thinking and activity throughout the development lifecycle. Recently we’ve spoken to more than 50 adviser clients, and that’s been the most enjoyable experience. It’s allowed us to deeply understand the opportunities that exist, what our customers love about our products and where they think we can help them even more. We’ll be sharing more about that in the coming months!

We want to bring diverse thinking to the opportunities that exist, and we’re well positioned to do that in 2023.

We’ve been really focused on building a new product and technology function, bringing in people with skills and experiences from different industries.

Our customers and clients should start to feel that change through the conversations we’ll be having with them, from how they use our products, where our products meet their needs and where they feel we could help them through key moments of the advice journey, to prototyping solutions or beta testing new functionality.

Alongside this, we’re hoping that some changes we make will be invisible to our customers as we focus some of our time on internal processes and technology to improve the overall customer experience. That could be time spent on queries, the ability to self-serve repeatable tasks, or new functionality. All of which we hope will enable advisers to spend more of their time engaging with their clients, helping them with great advice and delivering excellent experiences, and less time worrying about processing and administration.



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