Morningstar's Di Cristoforo on empowering advisers and their clients

By Penny Pryor

Morningstar Australasia has hired Rick Di Cristoforo to the newly created position of director of research products, where he will be responsible for the Adviser Research Centre and Research Advisory, Morningstar's investment advisory offering, Morningstar Research model portfolios and managed accounts.

In the role he will also be looking at other offerings in the Morningstar product range and considering how they can be enhanced and improved to be of maximum help to advisers, licensees and of course investors.

Di Cristoforo told Industry Moves why he so excited about taking on the new role and how Morningstar can support the adviser industry as it goes through significant change.

Adviser solutions

Hitting the ground running, during the first week on the job Di Cristoforo was involved in the rollout of 12 new managed account specialist portfolios which will be available on Colonial First State's FirstChoice Personal Super and Pension platforms.
Morningstar has put together Morningstar Core managed account portfolios, with six risk profiles that have a blend of best idea active and passive investments; and Morningstar Active managed account portfolios, also with six risk profiles consisting of best ideas active investments.

"The team has done an amazing job on the delivery of those managed accounts and we believe they are a highly efficient way to access Morningstar Research capability on a highly efficient platform. We think the Core portfolios will be of particular interest to advisers given their lower cost blend of Active and Passive managers," he said.

He says his familiarity with Morningstar and Morningstar's adviser tools is one of the reasons why he took the role, along with the reputation and integrity of Morningstar's research model.

"Because I've been a user in some way shape or form of Morningstar for many years, starting with my period with Matrix Financial Planning [as managing director from 2008 to 2014], I have familiarity with the Adviser Research Centre and Research Advisory capabilities. [This role] does give me some ability to cross reference my experience, alongside looking to spending time listening to advisers and licensees," he said.

An industry in flux

In terms of challenges currently facing the adviser industry, Di Cristoforo says that advisers' responsibilities are complex.

"[It's about]  reconciling the compliance requirements & community expectations to  deliver good quality advice and reconciling that with the process, administration and procedures involved in delivering advice in a commercially sustainable manner," he says.

"Anything that a provider like Morningstar can do to ease the process and manage and reduce the risks, as well as add value, is critical."

He expects the current industry trend of adviser departures to continue.

"I think we will, for a little while yet, see more people leaving. At the moment we're looking at the timing around FASEA exams and the education requirements, and until that fully plays out, I think we'll see more departures & consolidation."

"The go forward position as the advice industry gets recognised as it progresses into professionalism, will see it eventually gain interest as a career choice for new graduates coming into the industry."

The middle market

He also hopes that Morningstar can assist advisers to better cater for the underserviced "middle market".

"The need for financial advice is still just as acute in the middle market as it is in the high net worth space," he explains.

"The question is how does the industry best deliver? This is where businesses like ours have a role to play to assist advisers to become as efficient as they can be to effectively reduce the per unit cost of delivering advice."

"I'm so exciting to be working with Morningstar, and excited to be in a role where I can contribute to help this business deliver empower advisers to provide great quality outcomes to clients."