Mexican investors have midwifed a new business niche for the rating industry by encouraging trustees and common representatives (see inset, p 22) to seek standardized evaluations. "About a year and half ago, the pension funds sent trustees and common representatives a set of criteria that we thought they should be following," said Alberto Cordova, technical director for Amafore, a trade group that represents the country's pension funds, it's leading institutional investors. Eventually, some trustees and common representatives concluded "a rating could be the best way to show [investors] that they're complying with what we require," he added.

Indeed, Standard & Poor's has already launched a product for evaluating these players, a service that the agency has provided in Australia since the 90s. S&P rated local brokers Monex Casa de Bolsa "Above Standard" as a common representative and earlier this month gave Banco JP Morgan an "Excellent" tag for both its trustee and common rep businesses. In descending order, possible rankings are Excellent, Above Standard, Standard, Below Standard, and Weak.

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