Building, operating and monetizing financial services apps on the IBM Cloud

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As the financial services industry continues to be disrupted by smaller, agile fintech startups, long-established financial institutions are looking for ways to keep pace. One approach to accomplish this is to build, deploy and even monetize next-generation apps on the IBM Cloud. An example of how this is happening is to look to research company Morningstar and their APIs, which help build software faster and provide easy access to powerful Morningstar research services, calculation engines and exceptional data, all on the cloud. This technology requires that we take the time to understand the jobs our clients need to get done and design our APIs accordingly.

Morningstar’s clients hire us when we get this right and we strive to continuously enhance the value our APIs deliver. We are extremely proud of our gigantic database of global funds and stocks along with the range of research, ratings and unique methodologies, as well as computation engines which help select and construct portfolios and illustrate them with exquisite clarity to investors and their advisers. All of this is available via our software platform, which you’ll know as Morningstar Office Cloud (and Direct Cloud) that are also available as APIs.

Morningstar Developer

Morningstar is a global leader in independent investment research and data. Our reach is global, including 1.3 million managed retirement account participants and 11 million individuals. Those numbers also incorporate approximately 250,000 financial advisors, 300,000 retirement plans, 1,300 asset management firms, through 27 different plan providers, and over 50 global regulators to maintain compliance. To provide a comprehensive digital experience across this spectrum, we produced a user-friendly developer site with well-structured navigation, powerful searching and signposting, together with extensive documentation and sample use-cases which illustrate and bring to life the possibilities that the APIs provide.  Some examples and applications include:

  • Data: Global coverage of every major investment universe 
    • Mutual funds, Hedge funds, Private equity
    • ETFs, Stocks, Closed-end funds
    • Equity data – fundamental data and proprietary statistics
    • Market data – real-time feeds and historic tick data
    • Variable annuity/life, group retirement annuity
    • Indexes – equity, fixed income, alternative, fixed asset
    • Corporate pension plans, 529 college savings plans
    • Commodity and energy
    • Public company filings
  • Content: Unstructured data to drive investment insights
    • Research
    • Analyst ratings
    • Sustainability ratings
    • Analytics
  • Engines: Advanced algorithms to power financial applications
    • Wealth forecasting engine
    • Automated portfolio construction
    • Portfolio construction
  • Components: Portfolio, investment & market analytical tools
    • Asset allocation
    • X-Ray reports
    • Global market barometer
    • Portfolio planner
    • Fund compare
    • Screener

We also acknowledge and stay mindful of the developer journey. Developer experience (DX) is a priority, we’re constantly thinking of developers as consumers, making APIs powerful yet simple to use and combine, publishing clear and concise documentation and, above all, ensuring our APIs solve business needs and help developers get their job done as quickly as possible. The first API that we have made available on the IBM Cloud is the Morningstar Portfolio Analytics API which affords you access to a powerful portfolio look-through capability which leverages Morningstar’s unique database of full fund portfolio holdings. By simply passing in a set of portfolio holdings, the Portfolio Analytics API can return a vast range of analytics on portfolio exposure, MPT and risk stats and historical returns.

Financial service use cases

Our APIs are informed by our extensive independent research and our commitment to behavioral design. We start with the outcomes our clients are looking to deliver to their client. This API architecture was predicated on an understanding of the financial services ecosystem and our customers journey with the ambition to connect with:

  • Incumbents designing unique digital client experiences:
    • Looking for the ease to combine and consume
    • Want flexibility to select the best digital services and to be future-proof
    • Greatly value speed of integration and delivery
  • Emerging companies tinkering with differed data and tools sets:
    • Developing and testing new business models
    • Innovative strategies and value propositions

We help accelerate development and deployment cycles and round out their offerings. Let’s say you’re building a client portal and you want to illustrate the composition of a portfolio. To accomplish this, our Morningstar Portfolio X-Ray is perfect. It is quick to deploy and you don’t need to be concerned with heavy-duty number crunching. Instead, Morningstar X-Ray handles all of the computational complexity, out in the cloud.


From charts to the components necessary to build a full robo-advice proposition, Morningstar has the APIs which help for building web, mobile, and chatbot applications. They deliver Morningstar’s unique IP and help our clients build their software faster and get to market quicker. Being built on the IBM Cloud provides the backdrop and ecosystem that allows both well-established financial institutions and their smaller and agile fintech startup colleagues to collaborate together to deploy financial services applications for their customers, creating a host of new opportunities for revenue.

Learn more about the Morningstar Portfolio Statistics API here.

Read the latest ideas and insights for financial professionals on the Morningstar Blog here.

SVP and the Head of Fintech Engagement at Morningstar

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