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Rating:Morningstar's 2015 Investment Conference: Seen and Heard Not Rated 1.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Morningstar's 2015 Investment Conference: Seen and Heard

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Last week more than 2,000 people, including more than 1,000 FAs, converged on Chicago's giant McCormick Place convention center for the 27th annual Morningstar Investment Conference.

Quotable Moments

  • "I love middle-aged white guys. I've actually been married to a couple of them," Krawcheck said in her Thursday keynote.

  • In the Friday morning keynote session, Pimco CEO Doug Hodge said that before joining Pimco in 1989 he was a bond trader, a "Solomon Brothers Liar's Poker kind of guy"

  • "There is nothing in any of the problems that I'm obsessing about that homo sapiens is not capable of dealing with ... If we rise to the occasion, we will overcome. The question then is just, will we?" GMO guru Jeremy Grantham said in his Wednesday keynote.

  • when introducing a speaker one Morningstar executive told attendees that he "came prepared" and whipped out his sunglasses, referencing Bill Gross' now infamous speech at the same conference a year earlier.

    * * *

    Here's What Conferees Ate

    Popular snacks, appetizers, and drinks at the conference's breaks and cocktail receptions included:

  • mac and cheese served in martini glasses, complete with toppings to add in like chicken, lobster, bacon, and veggies

  • fresh guacamole, spinach dip, and tortilla chips;

  • chicken wraps and shrimp wraps, where lettuce is the wrap, complete with fixings like kimchi, pickled red onions, ponzu sauce, scallionssriracha aioli, and sweet soy vinaigrette;

  • infused water, some with cucumber, some with pineapple and orange

  • avocado mini-salads with cilantro and each topped with a sweet corn cake fritter; and

  • soft shell tacos, with chicken, whitefish, pico de gallo, cabbage, and a spicy avocado aioli.

    The big Thursday lunch, for which Sallie Krawcheck keynoted, featured: a blackberry and plum salad with spring greens, pistachios, goat cheese, and honey vinaigrette; a lemon and black truffle crusted chicken breast with peas, roasted radish and asparagus, parmesan-black pepper risotto, and mint salsa verde; and a butter cake with blueberry-balsamic preserves, vanilla bean whipped cream, and candied lemon.

    * * *

    Tschotchke Patrol

    Accessories for your mobile devices continue to be popular booth giveaways. J.P. Morgan offered a twist on cloths for cleaning screens and lenses by adding a cleaning liquid, and Nuveen and Touchstone both offered miniature cleaning cloths that you can store by affixing one to the back of your phone.

    Columbia Threadneedle offered cleaning cloths, American Beacon and SEI offered pockets to affix to the back of your phone, Azzad offered a phone stand, Columbia Threadneedle and Schwab both offered portable battery packs, SEI and Weitz offered earbuds, and J.P. Morgan offered a wall plug that can fit two USB cords.

    Many booths also offered food of some kind. Allianz Global Investors gave away blue and white M&Ms, Eaton Vance's NextShares gave away Clif bars, FAM Funds gave away fresh apples, Queens Road Funds gave away jars of peanuts, the Advisors Inner Circle Funds gave away mints, and Schooner gave away gum. Montage and its affiliate Tortoise gave away Jack Stack barbecue sauce from their hometown of Kansas City.

    There were golf tschotchkes, too. Edgewood and Nuveen had golf fees, and Guggenheim had golf ball sets.

    Bags, particularly to carry all those tschotchkes, continued to be popular, with Morningstar giving attendees mini messenger bags again. Booths offering bags included: Allianz, Azzad, Eagle, Eaton Vance, J.P. Morgan, Neuberger Berman, and Vanguard.

    Several vendors were helping FAs take care of their skin. MFS and Wasatch both had lip balms. And Artisan had a kind of sun care four-pack, with lip balm, sunburn relief jelly, and sun screens at two different SPF levels.

    In addition to oodles of pens from numerous booths, several offered other writing tools. MFS gave away keychain Sharpies. Becker and Brandes gave away sticky pads. Pacific Funds had spiral notebooks with attached pens. And Parnassus gave away colored pencils sets complete with sharpeners.

    Other tschotchkes included: umbrellas from GuideStone, mini flashlights from MFS, copies of the Economist's 2015 "Pocket World in Figures" from Harding Loevner, magnetic fridge clips from Becker and Saturna, collar stays from Balter and SEI, miniature baseball-cap-wearing bulls from Heartland, metal bull and bear key chains from Artisan, stress balls shaped like baseballs from Franklin Templeton, water bottles from Jensen, beer can sleeves from Intrepid Capital, and beer bottle sleeves from SEI.

    * * *

    Firefighters Were There, Too

    Overlapping with the Morningstar conference, in another section of McCormick Place, was the 2015 conference and expo for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    * * *

    The 2016 Morningstar Investment Conference is scheduled for June 14-16 of next year and will again be held at McCormick Place. 

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