Rating has been growing in importance across Europe for years. Without a doubt this was brought on by “Basel II” – binding capital standards imposed on banks at the beginning of 2007, an issue that had been hotly debated for years. In the meantime trained advisors and analysts are noticing that there are many more areas calling for their types of skills and that their job is not just about preparing clients for internal bank rating.
One area in particular that has embraced rating is the automotive industry where it is used to conduct “supplier ratings” as part of general supplier vetting. As early as 2004, the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) already created standards with a private rating company. These are no longer just standards in name, they have become common practice for assessing suppliers. The VDA Rating Standard is a special software program based on a leading rating tool called R-CockpitTM and specially developed for the VDA. Not only can it carry out balance sheet ratings, it offers holistic ratings based on qualitative criteria. In March 2006 Version 2 of this standard application came out and was sent to all members of the VDA to update the technical parameters of their rating software.
The Steinbeis Transfer Institute RaFin, which is based at the Steinbeis University Berlin, also trains students in the use of this software, preparing them for consultations with suppliers to the automotive industry. The way things are developing in the industry – which can be summarized by terms like “single sourcing” and “global sourcing” – this rating standard has major implications for large OEMs in selecting and evaluating suppliers. As a result, trained rating advisors and analysts are now not just freelance management consultants, or financial advisors and certified accountants who have taken on new qualifications, they are also in-house “raters” – a type of trained financial accountant who vets suppliers and OEMs.