It’s hard to believe that with 15 years of being a Morningstar user, I had never been to the Morningstar conference. When I was asked to speak on a panel about impact investing, I jumped at the opportunity. The conference absolutely lived up to the hype. Great speakers, lots of good exhibitors, interesting experience opportunities (like trying out podcasting equipment, beta testing new products, and trying out virtual reality devices), a focus on transparency and doing what is best for investors, and lots of wonderful people to meet.
Some of my favorite moments:
Morgan Housel gave a great keynote on how each person views risk through the lens of their own lived experiences.Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential biographer, spoke about the leadership themes she has seen as she has researched and written about many great presidents. Her ability to teach through storytelling is remarkable.
Learning about innovation in healthcare (and who is going to pay for it) from a trio of Morningstar experts, Karen Andersen, Christine Benz, & Damien Conover.
In the learning labs throughout the conference I was able to use current morningstar products and test drive products that are still in beta. My favorite was a tool that combined AI with behavioral finance techniques to help couples have more productive discussions around money.
It was my pleasure to participate in two sessions on impact investing- one for due diligence professionals, and one for financial advisors (pictured). Both were interesting, and both felt like we had enough content to talk about for many more hours than the one allotted! My fellow panelists were Jon Hale, Ph.D., of Morningstar, and Anna Snider of Merrill Lynch.
Want to hear some of our takeaways? Here are the some of the articles from media in the room.
Wealth Management: To Their Detriment, Advisors Are Holding Back Impact Investments, Advisors need to pitch impact investing to their clients before other wealth managers do.
CityWireUSA: Merrill’s top gatekeeper discusses the evolution of ESG investing, Merrill Lynch's Anna Snider and independent consultant Sonya Dreizler discussed the growing importance of sustainable investing.
ESG & Impact Investing
I was thrilled to see a conference wide focus on what morningstar calls Sustainable Investing. There were stations to measure your appetite for sustainable investing. I got a 96/ 100- not surprising- ha! Attendees could build an imaginary sustainable portfolio using virtual reality, and watch a spinning globe fill with forests, animals, and sea life. One row of exhibitors was dedicated to those exhibitors who identify as sustainable, impact, or ESG investing shops.
I was happy to catch up with many SRI/ sustainability friends and colleagues. There was a sustainability row complete with green carpet where I saw friends from Calvert, Parnassus, Saturna, Gitterman, and more. I got to spend time with my dear friend and fellow SRI champion, Danielle Burns of First Affirmative.
And just like at FPA Retreat earlier in the week, I met many friends I had previously only known online or by phone. I saw many of them at a #fintwit (financial Twitter) happy hour and met up with a few folks for a delicious meal at Topolobampo.
I was honored to meet Dr. Nandita Das, as well as two of her students who attended with her from HBCU, Delaware State University. The four of us and all of our luggage shared a very small Uber to the airport. It was a pretty funny ride, until the traffic got so bad we started to worry about missing our flights. I made my plane (barely) but not everyone was so lucky.
What I Missed
There are so many sessions happening at once that it was impossible to see even half of the agenda, so I know I missed a lot.
Want more details? You can see highlights under the #MICUS hashtag on Twitter.