GLOBAL - Standard & Poor's has launched a website to help pension funds and plan sponsors better understand how the company arrives at its ratings.

The free website provides articles, videos, podcasts and educational guides on what credit ratings are - "and what they are not" - the processes by which S&P produces ratings and how those ratings have performed over time.

Over the last two years, investors have consistently called for more transparency about how S&P determines its ratings, according to Bruce Schachne, vice-president of market development.

" was designed to meet the information and ratings transparency needs of the investment community, particularly pension funds and plan sponsors," he said.

The website focuses on three key elements: the criteria used to determine ratings and analytics; ratings performance; and the 1,300 analysts worldwide who rate debt securities.

On the site, analysts, credit officers and ratings executives will explain the processes the agency has put in place to support the independence of ratings, as well as the methodologies used for various asset classes.

They will also address the ways in which ratings performance can be measured and compared, as well as evaluate the performance of ratings in various asset classes over the past several years.

Deven Sharma, president at S&P, said the website addressed the questions investors had posed regarding recent ratings performance, delivered data on how ratings had performed and provided details on the changes the agency has made based on "lessons learned from the recent financial crisis".

"Earlier this year," he said, "we conducted a comprehensive review of credit ratings, and the review demonstrated that ratings, for nearly all asset classes, performed broadly as expected in the face of the extreme stresses of the past two years, with the exception of ratings on certain US residential mortgage-related securities."