Morningstar is taking steps to refine procedures used to collect fund data on the heels of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation to determine whether the company should face charges for failing to correct false information regarding a mutual fund on its Web site.
In a letter sent to customers Friday, Morningstar Chairman Joseph Mansueto said, "To prevent a similar problem, and as part of our ongoing effort to continually improve our processes, [we are] increasing our communication efforts and centralizing lines of reporting for data questions or errors; augmenting the stringent rule we already have in place; and improving our data-analyst training."
The Chicago-based fund tracking firm published inaccurate information for the $20 million Rock Canyon Top Flight Fund for nearly a month beginning on Feb. 27. On March 12, the fund company alerted Morningstar to the problem, but Morningstar did not correct the information until after the SEC contacted it on March 23. The SEC issued a Wells notice on May 24 informing Morningstar that it could be held liable for deceiving investors.
Morningstar said it is surprised that a single data error could be interpreted as a securities violation but plans to cooperate fully with regulators. The company tracks roughly 15,700 mutual funds in the U.S. and recently filed with the SEC for an initial public offering of its shares.