Investment Strategy
We seek to pick winning funds with superior management and quantitative characteristics linked to strong performance. Our quantitative research uses the most comprehensive mutual fund database in the world to determine the best strategies for long-term investing success. We then supplement those studies with extensive qualitative research of portfolio managers, analysts, and traders through onsite visits and follow-up phone calls.
About the Editor
Russel Kinnel is director of manager research for Morningstar, Inc. and editor of Morningstar FundInvestor, a monthly print newsletter for individual investors. He also writes the Fund Spy column for, the company's investment Web site.

Since joining the company in 1994, Kinnel has covered the Fidelity, Janus, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard mutual fund families. He helped develop the new Morningstar Rating for funds and the new Morningstar Style Box methodology. He also is co-author of the company's first book, The Morningstar Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success, which was published in January 2003.

Apr 25, 2017
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Russel Kinnel,
Director of Manager Research and Editor, Morningstar FundInvestor
Russel Kinnel is director of manager research for Morningstar, Inc. and editor of Morningstar FundInvestor, a monthly print newsletter for individual investors.
Featured Posts
Welcome to the Wall of Worry

They say bull markets climb a wall of worry, and that certainly hits the nail on the head today. Stocks have had one heck of a rally, and we have quite a lot to worry about.

You could point to 2009 and say there was a lot of uncertainty then. The economy was a mess, banks were a disaster, and the Fed was entering new territory. But stocks were cheap in 2009. Today, by most measures, they are pricey. That makes investing today seem much riskier than in 2009 even though the average investor feels much better today.

Today, climbing the wall of worry feels like scaling The Wall in "Game of Thrones." Yet the risks are not all-or-nothing like in that story. No one knows whether the next bear market is a month away or five years away. Throwing out your investment plan to prevent any losses from a bear market is foolhardy. Markets generally go up, and missing out on those gains is the surest way to fall short of your goals.

So, I'm afraid my prescription is just a list of boring stuff to do. It can keep you on the right path, but you won't find drama here.


  1. Make sure you are rebalancing. One of the ways people get burned by bear markets is that they let their winners ride so that they have more equity risk than planned when the bear market hits. Don't do that. Make sure that you set your 401(k) to automatically rebalance. You may need to do a more manual rebalance in your other accounts. For taxable accounts, I prefer to use new investment money to build up the areas that have shrunk in relative weighting so that I am not generating capital gains.
  2. Boost your contribution to your 401(k) or other automatic savings plans. This one is boring, and it means less fun today as you are saving more. Sorry.
  3. Upgrade your funds. If you have a fund with a rising expense ratio and can switch into something cheaper of equal merit, then do it if you won't be triggering capital gains. Likewise, if you own a fund with a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Neutral or Negative and can switch to a comparable fund with a higher Analyst Rating without triggering gains, do it. However, don't simply sell a fund with lower three-year returns for one with higher. That may not be an upgrade.
  4. Make sure you have aligned short-term needs with short-term assets. Some people had stock exposure in money they planned to spend in the next year or two in 2008, and the result was awful. If you have a tuition check in the fall or plans for a big-ticket purchase next year, that money should be in something with little or no principal risk such as CDs, money markets, or maybe an ultrashort- or short-term bond fund.
  5. When adding funds, be sure to look at how it fared in past bear markets (assuming it is the same manager and strategy). Aggressive funds look good after a long bull market, but you shouldn't ignore the risks this late in the game.



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