The launch of the BV-SERM rating system by Bureau Veritas (BV) and SERM Rating Agency allows the financial impact of safety, environmental and social risks to be quantified for individual companies.

At the same time, with the "Combined Code on Internal Control" — a mandatory London Stock Exchange listing requirement since December 2000, this new rating offers investors, lenders and insurers an independent assessment of individual companies' risk — in hard financial terms and on a 27-point scale from AAA+ to C-.

The BV-SERM Rating methodology offers both listed and non-listed companies a cross-cutting strategic benchmarking tool that assesses companies' performance in tackling their operational and reputation risk exposure by evaluating the effectiveness of their risk reduction measures and communication to stakeholders.

The BV-SERM Verified Rating takes into account both direct and indirect risks as well as factors associated with the industry sector spread and the company's ability to manage its risks. Through verification visits from specialist BV auditors, the information used to generate a company's rating is examined and challenged and this provides the basis for a BV-SERM Verified Rating.

Geoff Baker, chief executive of Bureau Veritas in the United Kingdom, explains, "Companies engaging in the BV-SERM Rating process will be sending a strong signal to their investors, insurers and other stakeholders that they are proactively measuring and managing their operational risks."

Safety & Environmental Risk Management (SERM) Rating Agency Ltd, is a UK-based rating agency, specializing in measuring and benchmarking companies' ability to manage the potential safety, environmental and social risks arising from their operations, relative to their financial strength. SERM's mathematical model takes into consideration the total cost (both direct and indirect) of any potential incident and the likely effectiveness of risk management in avoiding or mitigating any such incident. The key rating outputs are a "net risk to capital" figure — based on market value — and a point on a 27-point scale which runs from AAA+ to C-.

Bureau Veritas applies conformity assessment and performance evaluation to its clients' business assets, production processes and management systems, providing services in the area of quality, environment, health & safety and social accountability.