Providing Investment Knowledge Without Influencing Investing Decisions

Mutual fund

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The Training Corner | by Lars Wasvick, Associate Product Manager

One concern some clients have when training patrons is accidentally giving patrons investing advice. I’ve had this issue come up a few times during training sessions. For example, when looking at a stock report a patron will often ask the librarian, “Do you recommend that stock?”

I know what that feels like; I get asked the same question when I conduct training. It’s those types of loaded questions that make me nervous because if I say yes, or no, I could be influencing an investment decision. So, here are five tips to get patrons more involved in the training and prevent you from giving investment advice.

1. Ask patrons what stocks and funds interest them. There are companies all around us, and nearly everyone has some sort of mutual fund in a retirement plan. Patrons are often embarrassed if they have little investing knowledge or don’t keep up on their investments. Let them participate in the session. It will make it more interesting for them.

2. Let Morningstar do the work. On the homepage of our database we have a link to Morningstar Stock and Fund Recommendations. Show patrons how easy it is to find the lists and analyst reports. If you ever get a question about what to invest in or whether you recommend a particular stock or mutual fund, tell them to ask Morningstar. We’ve already done the work and we have an honest and objective opinion.

3. Plan ahead. One thing I always do before demonstrating our screeners is create a plan. For example, on a stock screen I will jot down the criterion to give me a screen with an adequate amount of results. It takes only a few minutes and it ensures that you won’t be left with scarce list that prompts questions you may not have answers to.

4. Look to current events. When showing a stock report, a good way to make an unbiased choice is by picking out a company in the news. For example, during the spring and summer of 2010, BP was involved in a massive oil spill. This was front page news, which makes for a perfect company to look at during a training session. Using topical examples allows patrons to see the relationship between news and stock price.

5. Rely on the features. Sometimes when you ask for participation, you get an obscure answer. For instance, in one training session I asked patrons for a stock to look up. A gentleman suggested American Tower Corporation. It’s slightly embarrassing to admit that I have never heard of that company. Rather than fumble around for the ticker symbol, I simply typed the name in the lookup box and I was able to locate the snapshot very easily. I highly recommend using our tools to make your job easier. Consider the Benchmarks on our screening tool, Data Analysis tab on a stock or fund page, and the Portfolio X-Ray Interpreter view.

For more helpful tips on the new features to Morningstar Investment Research Center, or for an overview on the database, please join us for training on Dec. 2, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. CST. Visit the Client Site to attend, or email for further details.


One thought on “Providing Investment Knowledge Without Influencing Investing Decisions

  1. I have a problem with the overall premise of your article but I still think its really informative. I really like your other posts. Keep up the great work. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. 🙂 thanks McKeegan.

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