Never Trust Google for Credit Ratings

Repairs

At first glance, it all seems like a nasty publicity ploy to lure unsuspecting savers to the website of an investment broker who wants to broker savings at risky banks.

However, a closer look reveals that the provider in question does everything possible to provide correct information about the credit ratings issued by recognized credit rating agencies.

According to the EU Regulation on Credit Rating Agencies, providers of credit ratings must be registered with the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

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When in Germany and using a desktop browser, type into Google’s search engine the words “Advanzia Bank Rating“. You will get the following results, as shown in the screenshot enclosed.

Google Translator translates this information above, which a user of the search engine receives in German language, as follows:

“However, the situation is not completely hopeless, because there are indicators such as the rating, deposit insurance and the coverage ratio, which we want to take a closer look at for Advanzia Bank below. … How secure is Advanzia Bank?”

Following are the AAA credit ratings as seen in the screenshot above. In reality, however, Advanzia Bank does not have any of these triple-A ratings:

S&P Global Ratings

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Fitch Ratings

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DBRS Morningstar

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Google’s Fault

The lack of reliability of Google’s search results and the dangerous misinformation given to investors must be particularly disappointing, since the “Kritische Anleger” website explicitly points out that there are no credit ratings for Advanzia Bank. The website writes the following text specifically for this purpose (in German, translated here):

“Advanzia Bank Rating: We currently have no rating for Advanzia Bank and therefore no assessment of its creditworthiness by a rating agency. However, this is not uncommon, since banks like Advanzia Bank have to pay for the creation of such ratings themselves, which can quickly become very expensive. Therefore, almost only larger banks can afford this luxury, because they can achieve greater savings when refinancing via the capital market through a rating. The fact that Advanzia Bank does not have a rating from Fitch, Moody’s or S&P is not automatically a sign of low security on the part of the bank.”

Also, a table is shown on the original website of “Kritische Anleger” that contains no credit ratings for Advanzia Bank. Despite this, Google assigns the bank triple-A ratings with reference to the “Kritische Anleger“:

The website https://www.kritische-anleger.de/tagesgeld/vergleich/ also mentions a lot of other banks and gives information about the credit ratings of these banks. In the Google search, however, errors appear again and again with these banks. Google’s search results are at odds with the fact that most of the information is current and accurate. In most cases, the information of “Kritische Anleger” is up-to-date and the errors are clearly made by Google on the search page:

In the worst case, Google Search will even show triple-A ratings for an insolvent bank.

The lesson from these observations: Anyone who decides on investments based solely on the displayed search results on Google can lose a lot of money. The rating quickly shown by Google search may not correspond to reality. It is therefore advisable to visit reliable websites with well-researched information, such as RATING©WATCH or the websites of the credit rating agencies.

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