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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Kapoor Envisions the New Sustainability

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

"The new face of long-term investing, long-term value creation," boils down to "the New Sustainability," according to Kunal Kapoor, CEO of Morningstar.

Kunal Kapoor
That was a key point in Kapoor's opening keynote address yesterday afternoon at the 2021 U.S. Morningstar Investment Conference (MIC). The hybrid event is being attended in-person at Chicago's McMormick Place by about 700 people and remotely by about 1,400 digital attendees, Kapoor said.

Kapoor shared "a spectrum of six approaches" to this new sustainability. Those approaches are: "apply exclusions" (i.e. negative screening), "limit ESG risk" (which sounds like more aggressive or focused screening), "seek ESG opportunities," "practice active ownership" (i.e. ESG-motivated activist investing), "target sustainability themes," and "assess impact."

Kapoor framed his remarks on sustainability by noting Morningstar's acquisition of Sustainalytics, and he hinted that the investment research giant is working on new tools to help advisors on this front, new tools expected to launch in 2022. The vision, he said, is for advisors to be able to show a client the specific impact of the investment moves they're making.

Kapoor also discussed the rise of direct indexing, and he hinted that the M* team is working on something there, too, also targeted for release next year.

"Our indexes are going to serve as a starting point for conversations with your clients, then you can layer in the customization that you want," Kapoor told advisors. "Our investment management group is using managed accounts to bring all of this to life."

"The era of one-size-fits-all portfolios is coming to an end," Kapoor added.

Kapoor also highlighted some pandemic-era changes in the investing world, such as the continued broadening of the investor base. He notes that Morningstar's website has seen traffic among 18- to 24-year-olds rise by nearly 50 percent in the last 12 months, while traffic from female investors jumped 18 percent. 

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