Credit ratings quality: The perceptions of market participants and other interested parties

Angus Duff, Sandra Einig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The global credit crunch of 2008 and related sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007 have made credit ratings agencies (CRAs) the focus of international attention. In particular, the quality of ratings information and the responsibilities CRAs owe to financial markets have come under intense scrutiny. Specifically, commentators, politicians, and regulators have expressed concern at the involvement CRAs might have had in creating global financial instability. However, the term ratings quality remains largely absent from the academic literature.

This paper constructs a measurement instrument to capture ratings quality provided by CRAs, and assesses differences in perceptions of ratings quality amongst four stakeholder groups in public debt markets. Two macro-constructs of ratings quality are identified, labelled Technical Qualities and Relationship Qualities. The two macro-constructs are measured by ten micro-attributes, labelled: Cooperation; Independence; Internal Processes; Issuer Orientation; Methodology; Reputation; Service Quality; Shared Values and Norms; Transparency; and Trust. Each micro-attribute is operationalised into individual items, and then empirically tested using data obtained in the UK from 121 issuers, 75 non-debt issuing financial managers, 90 investors, and 120 other interested parties.

The data suggest that ratings quality involves, in order of importance: the CRA's reputation; those values and norms of the CRA shared by users; the methodologies employed by the CRA; the independence of the CRA; and internal processes within the CRA. Multivariate analysis of variance finds no statistically significant variation between the groups for Technical Qualities factors. However, issuers rate Relationship Qualities and its micro-attributes of Trust, Issuer Orientation, and Service Quality higher than other market participants; a finding that reflects the dyadic relationship between the issuer's treasurer and lead analyst of the CRA. The paper concludes with a number of policy-relevant issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
JournalThe British Accounting Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • credit ratings quality
  • credit ratings agencies
  • credit markets


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