A.M. Best Overview: A.M. Best was founded in 1899 by Alfred M. Best, now headquartered in Oldwick, NJ. It has branch offices in London (since 1997) and Hong Kong (since 2000). Its main lines of business include:
- Insurance Company Ratings
- Insurance Company Debt Ratings
- Bank Ratings
- Hospital and Health Care System Ratings
A.M. Best added the latter three lines of business since 1999, and they remain relatively small compared to its long-time focus on rating insurance companies. Bestâ€™s bank ratings are primarily of small to midsize institutions, especially community banks. Best closed its Toronto office in recent years.
Size: A.M. Best is privately-held and reports only a limited number of statistics about itself:
- Professionals = over 450
- Publications and Services = over 50
Positives: A.M. Best has a long history as a trusted source of information about the insurance industry, and the SEC finds it to be a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO), thereby sanctioning the use of its ratings (though the SEC’s 2005 letter on the subject to Best’s president is a gem of bureaucratic indirection and doubletalk). The firmâ€™s small size and limited number of work locations should offer ample opportunities for interactions with personnel in all aspects of the business.
Negatives: The small size of A.M. Best probably limits opportunities for advancement, as does its status as a private, closely-held firm where ownership is concentrated among senior managers and directors. Job postings at A.M. Best indicate that analytical positions are generally open only to people with ample prior experience in the relevant industry. Aspiring young entry-level analysts probably should look to its larger rivals. Also see the rating agencies overview.