The World Behind Fitch’s MMF Ratings
by Charlotte Quiniou, CFA, Director in Fitch Ratings Fund and Asset Manager Rating Group
A Fitch money market fund (MMF) rating is far more than just a stamp on a fund. Its value for investors comes from the depth and breadth of the underpinning rating analysis and process. A key component of a Fitch MMF rating is also the regular, independent surveillance performed by Fitch’s analysts, which supports ongoing dialogue with fund managers, so that systematic mechanical reactions are avoided. To better serve investors, Fitch provides information on rated MMFs and developments in the money market industry, notably based on MMF surveillance information, through freely available periodic publications and online tools.
Disciplined procedures ensure consistency
Fitch conducts analysis and assigns ratings on MMFs following a consistent, disciplined process that is applied globally. The diagram in Figure 1 provides a summary view of the major steps followed by Fitch when assigning or reviewing a MMF rating.
At the start of the rating process, each MMF is assigned to a group of two analysts: the primary (or lead) analyst, and the secondary (or back-up) analyst. Analysts are responsible for leading the analysis and formulating a rating recommendation. The primary analyst is typically responsible for the continuous surveillance of the rating, once it has been assigned, and maintaining the dialogue with the fund manager on analytically-related topics. The secondary analyst is back-up on all tasks.
Once an MMF rating has been assigned, it is subject to a full rating review process at least on an annual basis, with regular intermediate rating surveillance, generally weekly, as detailed below.