Virginia Community Capital (VCC) has received a CARS™ rating of AA2. The CDFI Assessment and Ratings System (CARS™) is the only ratings system to provide a comprehensive, third-party assessment of both impact performance and financial strength for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). A CARS™ assessment addresses past performance, current financial position, and risk factors in the future. Ratings are based on five years of historical performance.
The CARS™ program was launched in 2004 by Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) as an important strategic effort to develop greater transparency, standardization of information and industry-wide performance standards with the ultimate goal of increasing the flow of capital to CDFIs. An independent advisory board of investors, CDFIs, bank regulators, and representatives from major ratings companies collaborated during a three-year period to develop the CARS™ methodology and business model.
“The CARS™ rating is important on many levels,” explains Jane Henderson, President and CEO for VCC. “The application and review process itself provided insights into how investors view us and where we might improve organizationally. Further, we can expect to see increased public and private investor activity with this sanction of good fiscal health and operations.”CARS™ analyses are conducted by experienced experts in underwriting CDFIs. Rating assessments are based on an on-site examination including:
Two key factors are reviewed by the CARS™ system: impact performance rating, and financial strength and performance rating. The VCC rating in the first category (impact performance) is AA, the second highest possible rating. According to the CARS™ Website (www.carsratingsystem.net), the AA rating means “The CDFI [VCC] has clear alignment of mission, strategies, activities, and data that guides its programs and planning. It accurately tracks appropriate output data that indicate it is using its resources effectively to benefit its target populations or communities in line with its mission. The CDFI [VCC] uses its data on an ongoing basis to adjust strategies and activities in accordance with its desired impact. It may track a limited number of impact indicators as well, but impact data tracking may not be rigorous or consistent.”
The VCC rating of 2 in the financial strength and performance rating category is also the second highest possible rating. “A CDFI in this group is fundamentally sound. It exhibits solid financial strength, performance, and risk management practices relative to its size, complexity, and risk profile. Challenges are well within the board of directors’ and management’s capabilities and willingness to strengthen. The CDFI is stable and is capable of withstanding fluctuations in its operating environment.”