Morningstar is an excellent tool for mutual fund investors. With analyst-back rating and a variety of excellent features, there’s a reason this is a popular choice among long-term investors.
- Analyst Backed Ratings
- Premium Articles
- Fund Screener
- Cannot Export to Excel
- Tools are Lacking
Mutual funds are probably one of the most important tools for investors that are in it for the long haul. They offer low investment minimums and broad diversification, so long-term investors stand to benefit greatly.
If you’re interested in learning more about mutual funds, you should consider opening an account with Morningstar.
Morningstar is an online resource for learning about mutual funds, stocks, ETFs, and bond investments.
They provide ratings on funds, industry news, advice for investing, and more. They are considered an authority on mutual fund investments in particular and can be enormously helpful for hopeful investors.
If you want to learn more about how Morningstar can help you make more informed investing decisions, check out our review below.
What is Morningstar?
Since it was founded in Chicago in 1984, Morningstar has been dedicated to empowering investor success.
They operate in 27 countries and have over 5,000 employees worldwide.
While Morningstar has capabilities for bonds, ETFs, and stocks, their focus is on mutual funds.
For this reason, they are especially useful to long-term investors.
The best way to discuss what Morningstar does is to evaluable their features. As an investment tool, they have several features that can help educate and inform you about investment decisions.
Here are some of the features that make Morningstar a great addition to your investor’s toolkit.
One of the most notable features of Morningstar is their rating lists.
Analysts predict the best stock, ETF, bond, and mutual fund picks and they update a list on the site. You will still need to do your own research, but the lists make it easier to find investment opportunities.
Morningstar uses a unique five-star rating system to rank mutual funds. Based on performance, funds are ranked with the top 10% receiving a 5-star rating and the bottom 10% receiving a one-star rating. They are broken up based on a three, five, and ten-year basis. Any mutual fund with a track record of three years or less doesn’t qualify.
Analysts also have a rating that is based on a tiered scale. Rather than basing their ratings on performance, analysts rate funds based on a forward-looking analysis. Morningstar analysts observe a mutual fund’s process, performance, people, parent company, and price and predict what the future of the fund holds.
Morningstar also offers rating lists for stock traders. The two most useful lists on the site for stocks are the “5-star stocks” and “Wide moat + undervalued.” These lists focus on stocks that are priced competitively compared to regular market value.
Morningstar has lists for ETFs as well, but these do not change as frequently as the stock lists.
Lastly, Morningstar has lists for high-yield bonds, foreign bonds, bond index funds, and core bond funds. These lists are great for beginner bond investors, but they are not detailed enough for advanced bond traders to make sound investing decisions.
Morningstar has a fund screener feature in place to make sure that you can screen your investments based on your particular criteria. The free version has a basic version of this feature, but premium users have access to a more advanced fund screener.
The fund screener has a multi-factor customizable screen with over nearly 100 different criteria to choose from. You can easily set measures for each factor and add and remove factors as you please. This feature makes it easy to set even strict requirements for what will pass or fail your screen.
If you have invested in a particular fund that you like, Morningstar can help you find similar funds to invest in as well.
You simply enter the name of a mutual fund into the similar fund finder, and Morningstar will return with a list of similar funds. You can sort funds based on similar performance, risks, operations and expenses, and more.
This feature is great for those looking to diversify based on mutual funds in which they have already invested.
As an educational resource, Morningstar wants to provide you with more than just tools to help you learn about your investments. They also have a robust blog with tons of informative articles about the best stock and mutual fund picks, industry news, and more.
This feature is free to non-Morningstar users, but they also have premium articles that are only available to premium users. This is an enormous incentive to spring for the premium membership.
Morningstar has two versions available to users: free and premium.
The free version gives users access to much of the research that you will need as a beginner investor. This version earns revenue from paid advertisements so you can use the features for free at a limited capacity.
The premium version gives you full access to all of the features above. Premium accounts have access to detailed stock, ETF, bond, and mutual fund ratings and advanced screeners. The premium version is best for active and advanced investors.
The premium version begins with a 14-day free trial, after which you will pay $29.95 per month or $199 for the year. Morningstar is currently running a promotional offer that we will cover in more detail below.
Signing up with Morningstar couldn’t be simpler.
When you go to the homepage, you can choose to sign up for a basic membership. This will require providing your full name, email, and creating a password. They will also ask if you are a financial professional. With this information, you can create a free account with Morningstar.
If you decide to upgrade to a premium membership, they will ask you for credit card information. They will still go forward with your free trial, but you will be automatically charged once the 14-day trial is up.
Because Morningstar is a research service, there really isn’t a lot of information that they need from you to get started. This is good in terms of sensitive information being stored on their servers.
That being said, they do track your activity on their site and share it with third parties. If you would like to opt-out of this for more secure usage, you have the option to do so. Contact their customer service department and indicate that you would like to opt-out of third-party sharing, and their team will take care of the rest.
Morningstar Customer Service
Morningstar has a bunch of helpful, yet complicated, features. If you run into trouble while using them, you will want to turn to someone for help. Luckily, Morningstar has a customer service team that can help you with site navigation, memberships, and more.
The first support tool that Morningstar has in place is an FAQ page. This page is broken down into sections to help you find an answer quickly. These sections are:
- Rating Changes
- Fund quote
- New site navigation
- Portfolio manager
- Missing features
If you still have trouble resolving your issue, Morningstar has a customer support team that you can reach out to. They are available by email ([email protected]) and phone (312-424-4288.) They also have specific hours of operation listed below:
- Monday through Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST
- Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST
Overall, Morningstar’s customer service is pretty standard. Between email, phone, and FAQ support, their support options aren’t anything to write home about.
Morningstar Promotional Offer
All premium members are given a 14-day trial period to see if they want to commit to a premium membership.
In addition to this, Morningstar is running a limited time promotional offer on their membership prices. You could end up getting $100 off your overall membership.
Currently, Morningstar is offering:
- $30 off their annual membership
- $70 off a two-year membership
- $100 off a three-year membership
This is an excellent deal if you decide that Morningstar is a tool that you would like to continue using.
Pros and Cons
Morningstar is an enormously impressive tool, but it doesn’t help with everything. Here are some of the strengths and shortcomings of Morningstar.
- Analyst-backed ratings: When it comes to investing, it helps to have more than just algorithms judging your decisions. Morningstar has over 150 in-house analysts to update ranking lists, write articles, and make judgements about the best current investments.
- Premium articles: Morningstar’s premium articles are an additional educational tool to help you feel more confident about your investments. Their articles will explain investment topics in-depth, discuss investment strategies, and even identify some top-performing stocks and mutual funds. These are excellent for the investor that is looking to stay ahead of the curve.
- Fund screener: Screening is an important part of the investment process. Luckily, Morningstar has a fund screener in place to help you make investments that align with your beliefs or investment criteria.
- Cannot be exported to Excel: If you’re a serious, long-term investor, odds are you have your investment information available in an Excel document. As impressive as Morningstar is, they do not have Excel exporting capabilities. This can mean that you have to manually import data from Morningstar into a spreadsheet rather than having it readily available for export.
- Stock and ETF tools are lacking: Morningstar is considered an expert on mutual funds, but they are notably lacking in tools to assist with stocks and ETFs. If you are an avid stock/ETF trader, Morningstar may not be for you.
Alternatives to Morningstar
Even though Morningstar sounds like a novel service, there are other companies out there that offer tools to investors. Here are some other sites that can help you gain an upper hand with your investments.
Zachs Investment Research, Zachs for short, is a company that is often compared to Morningstar.
Originally founded in 1978, Zachs aims to provide research that will give investors an advantage. They use qualitative analyses of mutual funds, ETFs, and more to help their investors make informed decisions and experience success.
Similar to Morningstar, Zachs uses rankings to rate successful mutual funds. Their analysts identify the top holdings within each fund, which helps them determine a mutual fund’s overall rank.
Motley Fool Stock Advisor
Motley Fool is a multimedia company similar to Yahoo Finance or MarketWatch. They offer free news, financial advice, and helpful research to avid investors.
Their stock advisor program is a true standout, however. They claim that their program beats the returns of the S&P 500 by picking outperforming stocks. In their stock picks, they include a variety of useful information such as the risk level, market cap, and performance since recommendation.
Overall, Motley Fool is an excellent tool for stock traders looking to gain an advantage.
Is Morningstar For You?
Morningstar is an excellent tool for mutual fund investors. With analyst-backed rating and a variety of excellent features, there’s a reason this is a popular choice among long-term investors.
Morningstar’s services are best for mutual fund investors, buy-and-hold investors, and anyone looking to diversify. Largely, it’s a useful tool for beginner and advanced mutual fund investors.