In the past, it was challenging for lenders to assess a borrower’s creditworthiness, which resulted in high credit risks. However, things have changed since that time. It is common practice for most lenders to check a borrower’s creditworthiness through credit ratings. These credit ratings usually come from agencies known as credit rating agencies. Before understanding what these agencies are, it is crucial to look at what credit ratings mean.
What is a Credit Rating?
A credit rating is a measure of a borrower’s creditworthiness, represented in the form of a quantifiable score. Every borrower with a history of credit dealings will have a credit rating, which they can get from credit rating agencies. However, there is no standard for credit ratings that these agencies give to borrowers. Instead, it represents the agency’s opinion of a particular individual’s creditworthiness.
Through credit ratings, lenders can assess the default or credit risk associated with their debts. In simpler words, they can gauge the likeliness of the borrower defaulting on the debt. Using credit ratings, lenders can decide whether they should provide a loan to a specific borrower. Similarly, these ratings allow the lender to dictate the terms for each loan.
What is a Credit Rating Agency?
A credit rating agency is a company that measures a borrower’s creditworthiness in the form of credit ratings. As mentioned, these agencies provide their opinion of how likely it is for a borrower to default. Credit rating agencies consider several factors when assessing a borrower’s credit rating, including their past transaction histories.
There are several agencies that can provide credit ratings to borrowers. Among these, the top names include Moody’s Investor Services, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), and Fitch Group. These are considered the big three credit agencies around the world. These three companies control 95% of the global credit rating market.
How do Credit Rating Agencies work?
Credit rating agencies analyze borrower’s credit histories and assign a rating to them based on those transactions. Borrowers may include individuals, companies, organizations, or any entity that requires loans from a lender. Credit rating agencies may request the borrower to provide documentation related to their past credit dealings.
For example, a credit rating agency may require companies to provide their financial statements, bank records, loan records, etc., to evaluate their credit rating. Using these, the rating agencies assess whether the borrower made timely payments, their future economic potential, current debts held, credit mix, etc. Based on these, they provide a score to the borrower.
Why is the importance of Credit Rating Agencies?
Credit rating agencies are critical for both lenders and borrowers because they issue credit ratings. For lenders, these ratings provide a benchmark to filter any potential defaulters and reduce their default risk. Similarly, it allows them to set interest rates on any loan transactions with potential borrowers. Overall, it provides them with protection against any future losses.
For borrowers, credit ratings can be helpful in securing loans. Similarly, borrowers with a higher credit rating score will get better and more favourable terms in their loan transactions. Usually, the fee charged by credit rating agencies for providing a rating is worth it for borrowers as it can reduce their interest expenses.
Credit rating agencies also provide risk measures for various entities. It allows investors to understand the credit risks for those entities. For example, these agencies rate company bonds and other debt instruments. It helps investors in making better decisions about their investment based on the credit rating.
Credit ratings are a measure of a borrower’s creditworthiness that comes from credit rating agencies. Credit rating agencies provide their opinion of a borrower’s creditworthiness. Usually, they consider various factors, such as a borrower’s history, current financial position, credit mix, etc.