S&P Struggles with ERM Ratings

Yesterday, Compliance Week Magazine reported that Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) is struggling to incorporate Enterprise Risk Management (“ERM”) into its ratings methodology.  Evidently, the analysts at S&P are finding the challenge of reviewing risk management practices at non-financial companies to be more daunting than originally planned. Financial companies have had their ERM practices reviewed by S&P for years, but the task is easier since practices are more mature and standard across the industry. In addition to this challenge, S&P has also been distracted by the ratings debacle that led to the securitization meltdown late last year.  However, here is what Compliance Week reported about S&P’s future plans for ERM evaluations.

S&P has no plans to abandon its ERM evaluations, but neither will it split out ERM as a separate component of a company’s overall rating score. Rather, ERM reviews for non-financial companies will be based primarily on information provided by issuers in public disclosures and through discussions with S&P. Following are the seven primary questions that analysts have been asking management teams concerning ERM:

  • What are the company’s top risks, how big are they, and how often are they likely to occur? How often is the list of top risks updated?
  • What is management doing about top risks?
  • What size quarterly operating or cash loss have management and the board agreed is tolerable?
  • Describe the staff responsible for risk-management programs and their place in the organization chart. How do you measure success of risk management activities?
  • How would a loss from a key risk impact incentive compensation of top management and on planning/budgeting?
  • Tell us about discussions about risk management that have taken place at the board level or among top management when making strategic decisions.
  • Give an example of how your company responded to a recent “surprise” in your industry and describe whether the surprise affected your company and others differently.

Is your company prepared to answer these questions?  If not, Wheelhouse Advisors can help. Visit www.WheelhouseAdvisors.com to learn more.

standard & poor's


About Wheelhouse Advisors
Wheelhouse Advisors LLC is the publisher of The ERM Current™, an online publication and blog dedicated to providing the latest updates on current trends in Enterprise Risk Management & Control. Wheelhouse Advisors provides cost-effective Enterprise Risk Management & Control solutions to both large and mid-size corporations. To learn more about Wheelhouse Advisors, please visit our web site at www.WheelhouseAdvisors.com.

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