The board of the (IOSCO) today published a series of recommendations applicable to the market for ESG ratings and data products (Ratings). IOSCO notes that the market does not typically fall within the remit of securities regulators and suggests that regulators could consider focusing greater attention on the use of Ratings and the activities of Ratings providers in their jurisdictions.
IOSCO’s recommendations are as follows (emphasis added):
- Regulators could consider focusing more attention on the use of Ratings and Ratings providers that may be subject to their jurisdiction.
- Ratings providers could consider adopting and implementing written procedures designed to help ensure the issuance of high quality Ratings based on publicly disclosed data sources where possible and other information sources where necessary, using transparent and defined methodologies.
- Ratings providers could consider adopting and implementing written policies and procedures designed to help ensure their decisions are independent, free from political or economic interference, and appropriately address potential conflicts of interest that may arise from, among other things, the Ratings providers’ organizational structure, business or financial activities, or the financial interests of the Ratings providers and their officers and employees.
- Ratings providers could consider identifying, avoiding or appropriately managing, mitigating and disclosing potential conflicts of interest that may compromise the independence and objectivity of the Ratings provider’s operations.
- Ratings providers could consider making adequate levels of public disclosure and transparency a priority for their Ratings, including their methodologies and processes to enable the users of the product to understand what the product is and how it is produced, including any potential conflicts of interest and while maintaining a balance with respect to proprietary or confidential information, data and methodologies.
- Ratings providers could consider adopting and implementing written policies and procedures designed to address and protect all non-public information received from or communicated to them by any entity, or its agents, related to their Ratings, in a manner appropriate in the circumstances.
- Market participants could consider conducting due diligence or gathering and reviewing information on the Ratings that they use in their internal processes. This due diligence or information gathering and review could include an understanding of what is being rated or assessed by the product, how it is being rated or assessed and, limitations and the purposes for which the product is being used.
- Ratings providers could consider improving information gathering processes with entities covered by their products in a manner that leads to more efficient information procurement for both the providers and these entities.
- Where feasible and appropriate, Ratings providers could considerresponding to and addressing issues flagged by entities covered by their Ratings while maintaining the objectivity of these products.
- Entities subject to assessment by Ratings providers could considerstreamlining their disclosure processes for sustainability related information to the extent possible, bearing in mind jurisdictions’ applicable regulatory and other legal requirements.
IOSCO is considered the leading international policy forum for securities regulators and is recognized as the global standard-setter for securities regulation. IOSCO’s membership regulates more than 95 per cent of the world’s securities markets in approximately 130 jurisdictions.