* Financial sector too reliant on credit ratings from
* G20 set mid-2015 deadline for plans to reduce reliance on
* Financial Stability Board says deadline will be missed
* Finding alternative ways to assess risk proving difficult
By Huw Jones
LONDON, May 12 Weaning the financial world away
from heavy use of credit ratings is proving harder than expected
as workable alternatives are taking time to put in place, global
regulators said on Monday.
Leaders of the G20 group of leading economies pledged to end
heavy "mechanistic" reliance on ratings in the financial sector
after bundled loans based on U.S. mortgages became untradable in
2007 despite being highly rated, triggering a global financial
markets and banking meltdown.
Credit ratings are also used to quantify risks at banks and
determine how much capital they should hold, but finding
alternatives to ratings, such as asking investors to do their
own credit assessments on products sold by banks, has been hard.
The ratings agency sector is dominated globally by the "Big
Three": Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.
But some regulators privately worry that relying on banks'
own computer models for quantifying risks is not a healthy
alternative as such calculations can vary widely across the
G20 countries have agreed to come up with national plans to
reduce reliance on ratings from agencies by mid 2015.
"Most action plans do not include concrete suggestions or
realistic timelines for establishing alternative standards of
creditworthiness across financial sectors," the G20's regulatory
task force, the Financial Stability Board, said in report.
The deadline is likely to be widely missed, the FSB said.
"The key challenge lies in developing alternative standards
of creditworthiness and processes so that credit rating agency
ratings are not the sole input to credit risk assessment," it
The United States has gone further than other countries with
a legal requirement for regulators to strip references to credit
ratings from financial market rules but the regulators have yet
to fully implement this given the difficulties of finding
The U.S. experience has prompted the European Union, which
includes G20 members Italy, Germany, France and Britain, to
defer until 2020 a decision on whether to copy the U.S.
The FSB said the G20 pledge is not about eradicating ratings
from agencies but about sound risk assessment which, in some
cases, may allow using ratings from agencies as one indicator,
among others, of credit risk.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)