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If you are looking for a rating approach to intellectual capital (IC) that fits that definition, this article is still the right read for you:
The IC Rating™ model by Intellectual Capital Sweden Kristine Jacobsen, Peder Hofman‐Bang, Reidar Nordby Jr Journal of Intellectual Capital ISSN: 1469-1930 Publication date: 1 December 2005
The Intellectual Capital model is originally based on ideas put forth by Sveiby (1997) indicating a division in internal, external and market assets, and the groundbreaking work done by Leif Edvinsson at Skandia in the beginning of the 1990s (Edvinsson and Malone, 1997). Most IC models today use this division, but the words and details might vary. The IC Rating™ model provides important inspiration for investors who are interested in impact investing, social investing and sustainability.
The IC Rating model contains three main areas of IC:
The value of the article is, among other things, that it develops a taxonomy that is relevant today and probably also in the future. The model creates order by defining elements and showing relationships between the elements. On the one hand, these are abstract enough to be generally valid, on the other hand, concrete enough to lead to a practical result.
The reader of the article will understand why a company’s intellectual capital is not just the sum of the knowledge of its employees. Instead, it is key to capture that knowledge in the company’s structures, so it is transferred from individuals, to groups, to the entire organization and becomes part of the organization’s “structural” capital.
The IC Rating™ gives the company a better understanding of non-financial assets and their importance in the company’s value creation. Intangible assets behave differently to financial and monetary assets, and should therefore be treated differently. The rating brings new insights into how businesses change and perform and how intangibles interact to create value.
The taxonomy provides for a shared language and terminology, therefore assuring a structured and pedagogical way of discussing and understanding a concept that is often perceived as blurry and unclear. A better internal management of IC and translation of a business strategy into actionable results are the consequences. As with any meaningful asset rating it helps the management make intelligent trade-off decisions with regards to investments. Companies never have unlimited funds to invest in the company and the results of an IC Rating™ will give clear indications where the investments will give the best return.
It was not just Tesla’s spectacular entry into the world of bullish cryptocurrencies that attracted the attention of investors to this young asset class. Thousands of crypto currencies are now part of a universe that ranges from outright fraud to serous applications. Keeping an overview here is hardly possible for individual private investors in particular – hence a typical market situation in which rating agencies are required. Classifications by rating symbols are easy to understand and therefore reach many investors.
The need has already been recognized internationally in various countries. Correspondingly, websites like www.crypto-rating.com, which aim to give investors orientation with ratings and rankings, catch the eye among the search results. Like the cryptocurrencies, the rating agencies have also emerged from different motivations that need to be carefully considered.
Finanz Verlag GmbH is now commissioning DLC Distributed Ledger Consulting GmbH to carry out crypto ratings. Initially, tests are planned with regard to crypto exchanges and crypto custodians, an expansion to other products in the digital asset environment is planned.
Dieter-Thilo Fischer, Managing Director of Finanzen Verlag GmbH, explains: “Crypto assets are already on the agenda of many investors – and they almost certainly have a great future ahead of them.” Nevertheless, for many it is a “cryptic” asset class with new challenges, in which an independent source of information is particularly important. “We are therefore pleased to have gained an extremely experienced blockchain specialist consultancy for our planned ratings with DLC.”
Dr. Sven Hildebrandt, managing partner of DLC Distributed Ledger Consulting, adds: “Of course we are pleased to be able to work for such an established publisher in the financial market environment. And you certainly feel confirmed when our company’s assessment is so widely spread. We are very much aware of the responsibility that this entails. After all, over 300,000 people read the publications of the Finanzen Verlag. “
Moody’s analysts have revised their environmental classification to reflect evolving environmental, social and governance standards, disclosure frameworks and market conventions among issuers and investors.
Environmental risks can arise from regulatory and policy issues, hazards or a combination of both. The five environmental categories Moody’s considers most material to credit are
Moody’s identified these categories, which apply to both public and privatesector issuers, based on their alignment with evolving market standards and conventions.
These changes represent a reclassification and/or renaming of Moody’s previous environmental categories. The previous environmental categories were featured in an earlier, 2018 environmental heat map report. The analysts underline that it is not a change in the specific environmental issues being considered. It is important to understand that rating changes can result from changed criteria, models and weightings as well as from changed framework conditions and new data from the organizations to be assessed.
Each of the five categories has been cited as a material consideration in their rating actions. Environmental considerations are becoming more relevant to the credit quality of Moody’s rated issuers. Moody’s points out that environmental credit risk will continue to grow.
In their “sector in-depth” report “Heat map: Sectors with $3.4 trillion in debt face heightened environmental credit risk” Moody’s identifies sixteen sectors with $4.5 trillion in rated debt having very high or high inherent exposure to carbon transition risk. Eighteen sectors with $7.2 trillion of debt have high inherent exposure to physical climate risks and again eighteen sectors with $5.2 trillion in rated debt have very high or high inherent exposure to waste and pollution risk.
Eight sectors with $747 billion in debt face heightened inherent exposure to natural capital risk. Six sectors with $925 billion in debt have very high or high inherent exposure to water management risk, according to Moody’s.
For many people it has become a reality: life is completely monitored. Hence it is no longer a question of whether life is, can or should be observed by strangers. It’s all about how, according to which rules, and by whom, with what consequences.
Anyone who wears a smartwatch at night transmits their data to Apple, Google, Huawei or other service providers before they wake up, who record the movements and at least also the pulse. Once you wake up, even without an Apple Watch on your arm, reaching for your smartphone shows when the day began. Regardless of which app is used, the data streams reach strangers.
Anyone who communicates with Alexa while preparing breakfast in the kitchen not only reveals his presence in the kitchen. The fact that emails can at least be read by the provider does not require any further explanation. Only encryption protects a little from the content on WhatsApp and other platforms, such as postcards, from being disclosed to any (virtual) postman.
However, less attention is paid to the fact that practically all telephone calls are made over the Internet, i.e. are digitized. This also allows strangers to access the conversations. In the interests of the security of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union, phone conversations going outside of Europe are carefully analyzed.
For offline purchases, the receipts list all products and assign them to credit cards or other payment instruments so that the identity and transaction can be traced here too. When making purchases and services online, the identity of the buyer and seller is inevitably determined.
Restaurant visits are to be documented and addresses given. Anyone who meets with business partners in the café had to disclose the exact consumption, the reason for the meeting and the people involved to the tax office even before the Corona crisis.
Employees have to document their daily routine to their employers and face the performance appraisal. The self-employed must explain their activities in detail in their tax returns.
Anyone who does not leave their house or apartment due to the pandemic, i.e. who works from the home office, has food been delivered by delivery services and meets their friends online, gives their life completely to the observation of strangers – with the smartwatch on their arm. When walking through the fresh air, the steps are counted, the route is recorded and the pulse is evaluated.
How little this bothers most people shows that misuse of the data disclosed in this way is apparently the exception rather than the rule. Passing on the data has no noticeably negative consequences for most people.
The political, societal, economic and social manipulation and abuse potential need not be explained in view of the many relevant media reports. However, the question that needs to be discussed is what role social credit systems will play in the future. The book “Social Credit Rating” seeks answers.
Thomas Kaiser and Tatjana Schulz write in their contribution to the book “Social Credit Rating” about the similarities with and differences to the China Social Credit System: Banks around the world have been exposed to numerous cases of misconduct at individual as well as on a systemic level, inflicting harm on single customers and the society as a whole. This includes inappropriate product design (e. g. securitizations which led to the financial crisis), large-scale market manipulations (LIBOR and other reference rates) as well as other fraudulent activities (e. g. creation of accounts without the knowledge of the affected clients).
“Regulatory bodies have reacted with a broad range of requirements and recommendations. A key tool in fighting misconduct”, Thomas Kaiser and Tatjana Schulz write, “is the strengthening of risk culture as an institution’s norms, attitudes and behaviours related to risk awareness, risk-taking and risk management, and the controls that shape decisions on risks.”
They see implementing risk culture frameworks as a means of influencing behaviour of employees to mitigate those risks in individual banks and thus ultimately to improve the reputation of the banking sector as a whole. While banks have made progress in designing those frameworks, the maturity of this particular discipline is still at a moderate level and full-scale implementation is not yet common.
The China Social Credit System also aims at improving behaviour of individuals and corporations by setting clear expectations and measuring compliance with those, the authors say: “Chinese authorities have gathered substantial experience with this methodology during pilot implementations and are refining the approach further during the rollout throughout the country. A comparison of those two approaches leads to suggestions on what the two approaches could learn from each other.”
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaiser has been working in risk management for more than 20 years. He is Director in the Financial Services division of KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Frankfurt / M. and honorary professor for risk management at the Goethe University Frankfurt. After studying business administration in Saarbrücken and completing a doctorate in the field of financial econometrics in Tübingen, Prof. Kaiser held a managerial role in risk controlling at four major German banks. He is co-editor of the Journal of Operational Risk and the author of numerous essays and books on risk management topics.
Tatjana Schulz works for KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Munich. As a psychologist with a focus on risk research and a banker with many years of experience in the financial services sector, she deals with the qualitative elements of risk management at KPMG. Among other things, she supports the audit teams in the areas of operational risk and risk culture and has valuable insights into the current state of implementation of the regulatory requirements in the German banking landscape.
Small and medium-sized companies have difficulties communicating their creditworthiness credibly. Recognized credit rating agencies concentrate their services on companies that go through a committee-based rating process. The legal framework in Europe offers no alternative to this. Only those who meet all the requirements of the EU regulation on credit rating agencies can be recognized as a rating agency. These requirements provide for an assessment process for which analysts are responsible, which leads to a decision by a rating committee. The agency’s supervisory and control bodies must be filled accordingly. Recognized rating agencies must have at least two independent non-executive directors on their board, provide a review function, etc.
Only personalities with many years of professional experience, academic training and aptitude of character are considered as rating analysts. Analysts are not allowed to perform sales functions for the rating agency at the same time. It is therefore necessary to appoint additional employees who are responsible for business development. All these requirements mean that the operation of a recognized rating agency is associated with considerable costs. Accordingly, the supervisory authority responsible in the EU, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), requires the rating agency to have sufficient capital to ensure the agency’s continued existence. All of these requirements mean that the traditional rating process, as required by law, is too expensive for small and medium-sized companies.
The rating process is too expensive for small and medium-sized companies, as the financial requirements are much lower than in large corporations. That already results from the definition of small and medium-sized companies. The costs of the rating process must be put in relationship to a significantly smaller financing volume.
However, the rating process is not necessarily easier for small and medium-sized companies than for large companies. Sometimes the opposite is even true: large companies are often organized similarly as corporations, have diversified business activities and compete with comparable companies with their products.
Small and medium-sized companies, on the other hand, often have specialists who offer unique products for a relatively small market. Often these companies are “hidden champions” who occupy a niche market. Their special expertise protects them against competitors. Due to the specialization and special expertise, the best small and medium-sized companies in terms of creditworthiness are often not easy to identify. For rating agencies that work in accordance with the restrictions of the EU regulation on rating agencies, there is hardly any team of analysts who have the necessary specialist knowledge in all specialist areas.
Credit bureaus therefore intervene in the movement of goods with customers and suppliers. These collect data from court registers and other public sources. However, due to the applicable disclosure requirements in the EU, this data is of limited topicality. Ratings calculated using such data are correspondingly outdated. Ratings are often determined on the basis of annual financial statements from the year before last. In addition, small companies, which can include listed companies, are not required to disclose their income statements.
These adverse conditions limit the possibilities of developing suitable rating models for small and medium-sized companies on a purely mathematical-statistical basis using the statutory mandatory publications.
Only a rating agency that works on a model basis but acts on behalf of the company assessed can lead out of this dilemma. In this case, the company has the option of providing more up-to-date and comprehensive data specifically for the purpose of credit rating. The annual financial statements prescribed by accounting law have many addressees. There is also a dependency on the tax balance sheet. For these reasons, statutory annual financial statements are not ideal for creating ratings.
According to the EU regulation on rating agencies, ratings based on a scoring model are not subject to approval by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Since these ratings are not subject to supervision, they may not be used for certain applications. This affects banks, insurance companies and other institutional investors.
The aspects mentioned illustrate the difficulties that small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU face when it comes to rating.
In an effort to increase trustworthiness across society, the Chinese government has been building its Social Credit System since 2014. This system targets all natural and legal persons in China and consists of four major elements: a central data platform, a rating system for commercial creditworthiness, a propaganda system for educative purposes and a publicly available listing system with black- and redlists (for negative or positive behavior) as well as consequential joint punishments and rewards.
While most of the related academic discourse has focused on the system’s political implications, Theresa Krause and Doris Fischer provide in their paper to the book “Social Credit Rating” an economic perspective on the Chinese government’s rationale for setting up such a system. Transaction cost economics has shown that trust is an important factor for business transactions and economic growth.
“However, China’s rapid economic development and modernization has weakened societal trust, including the traditional trust-building approach via guanxi (interpersonal relationships). Hence,” Theresa Krause and Doris Fischer write in conclusion, “the Chinese government is using the Social Credit System as an alternative approach for trust-building. The system is supposed to strengthen institutional mechanisms and incentivize trustworthy behavior. It can be regarded as an add-on to the currently rather weak legal system and fragmented government enforcement apparatus.”
Theresa Krause is a doctoral candidate at the Chair of China Business and Economics at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg and researches the subject of “Compliance and the social credit system in China”. In 2010/11 she worked in NGOs in Shanghai as part of the BMZ’s weltwärts program and then studied in Karlsruhe, Taiwan and London with a focus on economics, politics and China. Before her doctorate, Theresa Krause was a consultant at an international consulting company.
Doris Fischer holds the chair for China Business and Economics at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg. She is chairwoman of the board of the German Society for Asian Studies and was chairwoman of the German expert group for the German-Chinese platform innovation on behalf of the BMBF from 2017-2019. She is currently cooperating with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich on a project funded by bidt on the effects of the Chinese social credit system on companies.
Stock instruments issued or to be issued and / or traded on certain stock markets may be the subject of ratings. Stock ratings reflect the risks associated with the creditworthiness of the issuer and the stock market liquidity of an instrument. However, they do not address the risk of loss associated with price changes and other market conditions, nor do they consider the reasonableness of prices for their market value. Ratings assigned at national level cannot be compared across borders and are assigned using national rating scales.
Such equity ratings are usually the result of regulatory intervention by the state to prevent investors and issuers from being harmed by malpractice on the stock exchanges. The requirement to issue equity ratings is therefore to be understood in some states as a reaction to regulatory requirements. To the extent that such requirements do not currently exist or are not applicable, share ratings are based on market practice.
Financial instruments affected by equity ratings include, but are not limited to, common shares issued by financial and non-financial companies. The equity rating method does not apply to shares issued outside of a public offer by private funds or other investment instruments, or to preference shares, as these are accessible through their own methodologies.
Stock ratings are about the elements to be valued as part of the stock rating process. Stock ratings are supplemented by analytical considerations regarding the issuer’s credit rating. The equity rating methodology should therefore not be viewed in isolation, but should be read in the context of the global criteria reports of ratings for financial and non-financial companies.
Share ratings are also referred to as buy, sell or hold recommendations. A strong buy recommendation can be expressed, for example, by a double plus ++ and a simple buy recommendation by a simple plus +, vice versa in sales recommendations minus – and double minus –. If the rater gives neither a recommendation to buy nor to sell, the recommendation “hold” e.g. can be expressed by a circle symbol o.
Analyst opinions expressed as buy and sell recommendations are as fast-paced as the stock market itself, as the Corona crisis recently showed: If the price of a share falls, the sell recommendation can quickly turn into a buy recommendation.
Because buy and sell recommendations depend on daily market price fluctuations, equity rating repair does not refer to the question of whether a stock is over- or undervalued.
Rating repairs therefore relate to the awarding of share ratings, which give investors an independent opinion on the creditworthiness of the issuer and the liquidity risk associated with their shares. The purpose of such stock ratings is to provide an estimate of the liquidity risk an investor takes when purchasing a particular stock security in order to measure, in a timely manner, how easy or difficult it will be to sell those instruments if the investor so decides.
The analysis includes evaluating the stock’s historical stock market behavior in relation to presence and traded volumes, as well as the relationship between the movements of the stock and the financial situation of the company and the industry in which it operates.
Creditworthiness and market liquidity risk are the most important factors in the equity rating for which evidence can be produced. At national level, equity ratings are therefore based on two types of analysis: issuer creditworthiness and market liquidity risk. The combination of these two factors leads to the determination of a company’s equity rating.
The purpose of a stock rating is not to assess the risk of default on such stocks. Shares are equity securities and they represent ownership, not just a claim. Therefore, they cannot be in default. Because stocks do not have specific payment obligations, the stock rating is about the likelihood that the issuer will continue to operate. Conceptually, equity ratings indicate that the more creditworthy an issuer is, the greater the likelihood that its shares will continue to be traded throughout the business cycle. In the current case of the bankruptcy of Wirecard, a company listed in the German stock index DAX, it would have been the task of a stock rating to signal the probability of such an event by a low rating.
Stock ratings reflect risks related to the creditworthiness of the issuer and the market liquidity of the stock. For the reasons outlined, however, they do not deal with the risk of losses associated with changes in share prices and other market conditions, nor with the adequacy of the market price of a particular security. Equity ratings are therefore not suitable as trading signals, for example to buy and sell a stock within a few hours. Equity ratings are also not the basis for trading Contracts for Difference (CFDs). Under no circumstances does such analysis result in a recommendation to buy or sell a particular security. Share ratings are therefore not a special form of share price estimates, nor are share prices used to determine forecasts of liquidity risk.
The information required to carry out the risk analysis and assign ratings is obtained from various sources such as the issuer, industry data and other relevant sources. For the specific analysis of the liquidity of the share, the statistical data are obtained from market sources that are required to be able to calculate the relevant stock market indicators.
The analysis usually includes five years of company history and financial data. The information required to assess the creditworthiness of the issuer can be requested directly from the issuer or obtained indirectly through agencies. Once the necessary information has been collected and checked, an analysis can be carried out using a uniform method.
If criminal energy is involved – as allegedly in the case of the Wirecard company – the stock rating cannot easily detect the counterfeit. Rating agencies emphasize that the information received from the issuer or its representatives will not be reviewed or verified (again). While ratings look to the future, auditors’ attestations are there to confirm that the company’s report agrees with the facts it finds.
In order to counter fraud cases like WorldCom, Enron and now apparently also at Wirecard and to give warning signals to investors, a forensic rating is required. Forensic ratings typically deal with individual offenses, unlike criminology, which examines the basics of criminal behavior. The concept of “forensic science” – like the concept of “credit rating” – often does not meet the criteria for scientific research in the narrower sense. It is understandable that forensic ratings are predominantly carried out using methods that are well established, standardized and as undisputed as possible. Innovation and creativity must be severely restricted for reasons of comparability and fairness. The scientific principles of objectivity, reliability and validity also apply to criminal investigations. It is very important to ensure the highest possible quality standard as with every rating.
Rating also does not replace the work of the auditor, because the auditor’s report is the overall opinion of an auditor after the audit of the annual financial statements. In it, the auditor assesses the conformity of the annual financial statements and the management report with the accounting regulations applicable to the company. An assessment is only made as to whether the situation of the company has been correctly represented, but no prognosis of the company’s creditworthiness and the liquidity of the share is given. A holistic assessment of the economic situation, which also requires a considerable degree of industry knowledge, is generally not carried out. The auditor’s report may only be issued after the material examination has been completed.
For securities without historical stock market information such as a first stock offer or with insufficient information, the analysis can practically only be based on the creditworthiness of the issuer. After approximately one year of trading and records of stock exchange transactions, equity liquidity is included in the analysis.
The issuer’s creditworthiness is expressed in its issuer default rating or its long-term national scale rating. Depending on the type of company, these are calculated according to the respective methods for non-financial – e.g. Chemical companies, technology companies) and financial companies (e.g. banks and insurance companies).
As with credit ratings, the purpose of credit analysis is to classify the likelihood that a company will meet its financial obligations (or in other words, the risk of default). The company’s operational and financial profile, its overall creditworthiness and thus the long-term rating of the issuer are good approximations of the risk of a company’s future cash generation capacity.
The equity rating includes qualitative and quantitative variables to measure the operational and financial risks of an issuer and to determine its credit profile in accordance with the concepts contained in the global rating methods for financial and non-financial companies.
As already indicated, an ex-post analysis is carried out to assess exchange liquidity, which is naturally dynamic and is based on the monitoring of certain relevant market indicators for measuring the liquidity of a share.
The world’s stock exchanges are very different. What is relevant for investors is the quality of the paper on the stock exchange where it can trade. Therefore, stock ratings are placed in the context of the country’s stock exchange. The analysis may include elements that reduce liquidity, e.g. for example, the series of a particular share that grants greater rights to another series of that security. The relative importance of the individual risk factors can vary. As a rule, indicators that indicate the low liquidity of a particular stock limit their rating to the lowest range on the scale.
The trading history of the share, the percentage of free float and the development of market capitalization and daily trading volume are factors that influence the assessment of the liquidity level of the share. The liquidity of a security is measured by the recent development of these and other stock market indicators, but essentially by the presence of the security on the market. Although the rating depends on the recent performance of the equity liquidity indicators, the track record of the indicators being assessed is critical to determining a rating.
Share ratings express the “option character” of a company’s shares. According to the option price theory, the shareholder can also be modeled as a buyer of a purchase option. By paying a premium – the share price – the buyer receives the right, but not the obligation, to continue operating the company. If the value of all the assets of a company falls below the value of the creditors’ claims against the company, the shareholder does not have to replenish equity, but can leave the company to the creditors for liquidation as part of an insolvency procedure.
Since the company’s credit rating also includes the risk of default, it characterizes the option character of the share. The lower the share rating, the greater the option character of the share.