Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 96

The Phillips Curve The Style Counsel By Don Phillips I sketched out the plans for the Morningstar Style Box while returning from the ICFP Retreat in Rhode Island in the early 1990s. The style box was inspired by a talk that Pennsylvania Mutual’s Tom Ebright gave, in which he described the process of building a portfolio of funds as similar to that of constructing a baseball team. Tom advocated assembling a balanced set of skills, rather than having a team made up exclusively of home-run hitters or base stealers. He drew a four-box grid showing how funds could invest in large or small, growth or value strategies. When we expanded that grid to nine boxes and introduced it in Morningstar Mutual Funds, Tom was kind enough to send a note saying that we’d built a better mousetrap. I saw the style box as a useful tool to help describe a fund’s characteristics—a means of synthesizing all of the embedded data in a fund’s portfolio holdings into a simple metric that investors could use to better place a fund in their portfolio lineup. In a sense, we wanted a fund investor to be able to visualize what a rival fund manager could ascertain by looking at a list of holdings. We never envisioned that the style box would be used as a means of policing fund managers or would serve as a road map for product development by legitimizing nine distinct types of diversified domesticstock funds. But then, any idea’s potential for popularity is directly correlated to its potential for misuse—the more ways you can use a tool, whether intended or not, the broader the number of people who will embrace it. Of late, it’s become fashionable to criticize the style box for fencing managers in and limiting their choices. While academic research shows that added discipline leads to better, not worse, results, the romantic notion that if given more space managers could produce better results holds much appeal—and in a handful of cases with gifted managers it’s almost certainly true. But before jettisoning the style box, consider the benefits that the style box brings. Style boxes bring clarity to fund naming. Before the style box, fund names were often ambiguous or misleading. We’d talk to a self-described “growth” manager one day who spoke of buying IBM and Coca-Cola. We’d then speak to an avowed “value” manager who was buying the same stocks. The managers weren’t necessarily trying to mislead anyone; they just had different definitions of growth and value. There was little industry agreement on just what these terms meant. Differing definitions are fine for encouraging debate, but they easily confuse investors. Taken to extremes, industry names ventured from confusing to downright misleading. For example, both T. Rowe Price and Fidelity ran “blue-chip” stock funds in the early 1990s. T. Rowe’s blue-chip fund took a conventional definition of the term and held giant firms. Fidelity’s fund held much smaller companies that manager Michael Gordon confessed were probably better thought of as “future blue chips.” How were investors to know the difference if they couldn’t see the large-blend box for T. Rowe’s fund and the mid-growth box for Fidelity’s? Style boxes help show where a fund fits in a portfolio by illustrating which funds are complementary and which overlap. Where does a fund with a name like Magellan, Mercury, or Windsor fit in a portfolio? Does a portfolio tilt toward growth or toward value? Does it have sufficient small-cap exposure? Without the style box, or better yet our Ownership Zones, it’s hard for investors to tell. Even worse, when undefined funds are evaluated together, those that favor a certain style will rally at the same time and dominate the much-trumpeted leader’s lists. An investor assembling a portfolio using these lists will get a set of similar funds, not a welldiversified portfolio. Style boxes help combat this problem and aid diversification. Finally, and most importantly, style boxes shift power from those who manufacture funds to those who purchase them. Fund companies, naturally, want more control over how their offerings are evaluated—and if at all possible to stack the odds in their favor. Shareholders and financial advisors understandably want to know that a fund actually does what it says it is doing. Before the style box, fund categorizations were based largely on what fund companies said the fund’s objective was. As public recognition and manager bonuses hinged on a fund’s performance within its category, there was predictably lots of gamesmanship on the part of funds to obtain the category placement that would most flatter the fund. As we said at the time, the easiest way for a fund to be number one in its category was for it to be miscategorized. Style boxes took the process out of the hands of fund sellers and allowed for cleaner comparisons to the benefit of fund buyers—a significant step forward for investors, but a loss of control for marketers. Yes, style boxes can be interpreted in counterproductive ways, but the benefits to investors should not be tossed aside too readily. Returning to an era in which funds were routinely misclassified and difficult to place into a portfolio would hardly be a better solution. Like any useful tool, style boxes can be a great helper if deployed skillfully. They give investors and their advisors a valuable lens through which to view the wide array of choices that confront them. K Don Phillips is Morningstar’s managing director, corporate strategy, research, and communications. 96 Morningstar Advisor Winter 2008

Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008

Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008
Contents
Letter from the Editor
Inbox
How Do You Use the Morningstar Style Box?
Real Estate Investing Goes Global
The Golden Touch
Investment Briefs
Learning to Fly with Equity Options
Another Block in Building a Portfolio
In a League of Their Own
Unlock the Box
Fashion Change
The View from the Investment Side
Unpredictable Style
Weighting the Fundamentals
Wire-to-Wire Consistency
The Secret's Out
Focus on Financials
Strongest Homebuilders Will Withstand the Wrecking Ball
Breaking Style Conventions
Playing It Safe with Financials
Back to Bond School
Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Undervalued Stocks
Most Popular Variable Annuities
New at Morningstar
The Style Counsel
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Intro
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Cover2
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 1
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 2
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Contents
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 4
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 5
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 6
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Letter from the Editor
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 8
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Inbox
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - How Do You Use the Morningstar Style Box?
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 11
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Real Estate Investing Goes Global
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 13
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 14
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - The Golden Touch
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 16
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 17
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Investment Briefs
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 19
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 20
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 21
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Learning to Fly with Equity Options
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 23
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 24
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 25
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Another Block in Building a Portfolio
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 27
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 28
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 29
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - In a League of Their Own
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 31
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 32
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 33
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 34
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 35
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Unlock the Box
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 37
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 38
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 39
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Fashion Change
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 41
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 42
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 43
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - The View from the Investment Side
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 45
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 46
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 47
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 48
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 49
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 50
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 51
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Unpredictable Style
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 53
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Weighting the Fundamentals
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 55
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 56
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 57
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 58
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 59
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 60
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 61
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Wire-to-Wire Consistency
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 63
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 64
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 65
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - The Secret's Out
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 67
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 68
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 69
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Focus on Financials
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 71
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 72
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 73
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Strongest Homebuilders Will Withstand the Wrecking Ball
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 75
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Breaking Style Conventions
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 77
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Playing It Safe with Financials
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 79
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 80
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Back to Bond School
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 82
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 84
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 85
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 86
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 87
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Undervalued Stocks
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 89
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 90
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 91
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Most Popular Variable Annuities
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 93
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - New at Morningstar
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - 95
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - The Style Counsel
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Cover3
Morningstar Advisor - Winter 2008 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20191201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20141011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20141201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/investorconference2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20091011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008catalog
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008winter
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com