Knowledge@ASB - Ratings Agencies: Is There a Better Way?

The big three credit rating agencies' role in the global financial crisis has made them the focus of regulators and investors worldwide. The quest is on to find a ratings model that works, because a conflict of interest may exist when the issuer of a financial product foots the bill for a rating. Making investment advisers or pension funds – rather than the vendor of the product – pay for ratings is a smart solution, says global governance expert Ronald Masulis, a professor at the Australian School of Business. Others prefer a performance-based model in which investors effectively rate the raters. But, with the debt-raising capacity of companies and governments dependant on ratings, industry insiders insist the main game now should be restoring the agencies' credibility.