Featured Profile: Tim Murphy
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Morningstar APAC director of manager research Tim Murphy tells Karren Vergara how the firm is helping end investors meet their goals more effectively.

Like most mid-20-year-olds attempting to find their footing in the world of work after university, Tim Murphy tried his hand at different roles before discovering what felt right for him.

These included credit analysis, relationship management in corporate banking and compliance analytics for major banks like CBA, HSBC and Macquarie Group.

When Chris Douglas and I took over as leaders of manager research, our market share in Australia was 2%; today that's over 60%.
During his time in banking, Murphy was honest with himself about elements he liked and other aspects he didn't, which is why he encourages new entrants thinking about a career in finance to: "Be patient, but don't be scared to try something new."

It's also a matter of getting out there and asking people who work in different roles across the industry lots of questions, he advises.

"You will get conflicting opinions, but over time you will work out what makes sense for you. I ended up doing something that did work for me, so I think not being scared to try something new is definitely a key piece of advice."

Joining Morningstar in 2005 as a research analyst, Murphy developed greater clarity on what he liked and hence that's "why I'm still here."

He rose through the ranks to become a manager of investment research three years later. In August 2009, he was promoted to co-head of fund research, a role he shares with long-term colleague Chris Douglas.

"When Chris and I took over as leaders of manager research, our market share in Australia was 2%; today that's over 60%," Murphy says.

There were 34 employees in Sydney when he joined; currently there are about 160.

His contribution in helping build out the research offering, to develop a good team of people and establish a solid client base is something, Murphy says, he is proud of.

"Both the breadth of use and influence we're having on end investor outcomes - which is what we're always trying to improve by keeping investors first. It's certainly not all down to me, but we have a great team we've hired and trained over here."

Murphy is currently responsible for helping lead manager research and provides advice on the best fund managers in the market. He also consults on approved product lists and model portfolios.

"There's a client aspect of what I do in the region in particular, Australia, New Zealand and Korea. Then the research part [which] is keeping on top of fund manager developments, so I regularly travel through Europe and the US as part of my role."

In 1984, Joe Mansueto founded Chicago-headquartered Morningstar. At the time, the 27-year-old stock analyst was frustrated that other people couldn't access the same quality information as financial professionals.

Mansueto began recruiting a few people and started offering investment research to everyone - working from his apartment where Morningstar was born.

The global firm employs some 4820 people and has a presence in 27 countries. Mansueto currently serves as executive chair.

The fact that Murphy helped Morningstar became the success that it is in Australia is a notable achievement.

"Bringing the best of our global offering to make it most relevant for the Australian market, is something I'm proud of given the number of large and successful foreign firms that have come to Australia and had little or no success in our industry," he says.

"[This could be] due to not understanding and adopting their product and service offering to the unique requirements of the Australian market."

The research house provides comprehensive coverage on every asset class across all portfolio types, including hedge funds, ETFs, managed funds and listed investment companies - for both active and passive fund managers.

The challenge, however is maintaining that dominance and staying on top of what's going on with the fund managers in terms of how the markets are affecting them, he says.

A self-described curious and quizzical person, Murphy naturally values continuous learning and professional development.

Continuous learning and education, he notes, are the best approach in terms of how people can progress in their careers.

"The opportunities around you are constantly evolving, so the best way to try to keep on top of that as best as you can is through constant learning," he says.

Murphy's string of qualifications is impressive - he's a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA); he holds a bachelor's degree in applied finance, a postgraduate diploma in accounting and a master's in applied finance.

He's also completed an executive short course specialising in investment management run by the prestigious Harvard University.

But learning doesn't necessarily have to take a formalised approach, he adds.

Murphy has participated in informal initiatives with peers as well as mentoring programs.

"Whatever form it takes, constant learning is something anyone should always be trying to keep in mind when developing and improving themselves," he says.

A worthwhile legacy would be to contribute in training and developing fellow peers, and passing on this knowledge and expertise.

Over the last decade, he notes that it's been satisfying to see the longevity of several staff members in the Morningstar research team, while others have moved on to other senior roles in the industry.

Being a global company, Murphy says Morningstar offers a range of opportunities not only to work overseas, but also to progress professionally.

Murphy had the opportunity to work in the UK office in 2007 to help train new hires, a period when Morningstar entered the European market to expand its research manager efforts.

Most recently, he gave a presentation on global investment trends at Morningstar's Korea Fund Awards in Seoul, discussing how fund flows are increasingly allocated to lower cost investments. A trend that isn't just reflected in the growth of passive investment, but equally apparent among fund flows for active funds as well, he says in a LinkedIn post.

With a zest for travel, Murphy has globetrotted extensively, both leisurely and professionally. Workwise, major cities such as New York and London are fun places to visit, he says. Murphy has also participated in a few Best of Breed Global Research and Investment Programs (BOB).

More of leftfield, diving with sharks, dolphins and other marine life in Belize, Murphy adds, was quite memorable.

When he's not running to keep active or watching a game of footy (he's both a league and union fan) the dad-of-two certainly has another reason to keep him busy - Murphy and his wife welcomed a baby girl about seven weeks ago.

"I have travelled fairly extensively albeit travelling these days takes on a different element with young children in tow," he says.

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