June 21, 2023

What is credit risk?

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As your business grows and you take on more projects, credit becomes an increasingly important part of your operations. When your business applies for a loan, lenders assess your creditworthiness and credit risk involved before they lend you the funds. 

So what is credit risk, and how does it affect your business operations? This article will provide insight into what credit risk is and how lenders evaluate your application before extending credit.

Credit risk definition

Credit risk is the chance that a borrower will fail to pay their debt obligations. When lenders issue a loan, they do so under the assumption that the borrower will make all payments on time and in full. However, if a borrower fails to meet their obligations, the lender will incur a financial loss.

Measuring credit risk

When lenders assess the risk associated with your loan, they measure it using several factors. These include your credit score, income level, and past loan history. Your credit score gives lenders important context around how likely you are to pay back the loan.


Your income level is also used to measure your risk. Lenders want to ensure you have enough money to repay the loan. Lastly, lenders look at your history to get an indication of how you’ve managed credit in the past. This helps them to gauge how likely you are to default on the loan.

One popular formula for measuring credit risk that lenders use is:

Credit Risk Score = Default Probability x Exposure x Loss Rate

This is broken down as follows:

  • Default Probability is a measure of the likelihood that a borrower will default on their loan. This is calculated by reviewing the borrower’s credit score, income level, and past loan history.
  • Exposure is the amount of money that the lender stands to lose in the event of a default. This is calculated based on the size of the loan, the terms, and any collateral provided.
  • Loss Rate is the percentage of money the lender cannot recoup if a borrower defaults on their loan.

Types of credit risk

There are several types of credit risk, each with unique implications. These include:

  • Default Risk: This is the most common type of credit risk and occurs when a borrower fails to make their loan payments in full or is 90 days overdue on their loan payment.
  • Concentration Risk: When a lender focuses their lending on a single borrower or one industry, it increases the risk of default or losses. This is because if the borrower or industry experiences a financial setback, then the lender stands to incur losses.
  • Country Risk: This type of credit risk refers to the risk of doing business in a particular country. This can include political, economic, and regulatory risks that may impede the ability of lenders to recoup their investments.
  • Institutional Risk: This risk arises when the entity responsible for supervising the contractual relationship between a lender and a borrower experiences a malfunction.
  • Downgrade Risk: This type of risk occurs when a borrower’s credit rating is downgraded, and their ability to repay the loan decreases.

Importance of understanding credit risk

Understanding credit risk is important for both lenders and borrowers. It helps lenders assess the potential risks of lending money to a particular borrower and ultimately make an informed decision about how much (if any) money they can lend. For borrowers, understanding credit risk paints a clear picture of the risk they’ll accept by taking out a line of business credit.

What is credit risk management?

Credit risk can arise from several sources, such as the borrower’s financial status or increased market volatility. A lender must assess these risks before extending credit, and this assessment is what's known as credit risk management. This involves a series of strategic actions designed to minimize the likelihood that a borrower will default on their loan payments, such as assessing a borrower's creditworthiness, monitoring loans closely, and ensuring that borrowers make payments on time.

Commercial credit risk management involves lenders using various methods to evaluate potential borrowers and manage their risks. From financial analysis to risk assessment and monitoring, lenders use a variety of strategies to minimize their exposure to corporate credit risk.

Financial analysis

One of the most important steps in credit risk management is financial analysis. This involves assessing a borrower’s ability to repay the loan, including their current financial standing, credit history, and ability to make payments on time. This analysis helps lenders determine the risk associated with a particular loan and also helps them assess whether or not to approve the loan.

Credit risk assessment

This involves evaluating the borrower’s ability to repay the debt and any additional risks associated with the loan. This includes assessing factors such as market volatility, competition, and liquidity. Lenders also look at their internal policies and procedures to determine the risk associated with a loan.


Lenders must also monitor loans closely to ensure they get paid on time and in full. This includes regular contact with the borrower and, if necessary, taking action to recover past-due payments.

There are several methods used to manage credit risk. These include:

  • Diversification: Lenders spread out their investments across different industries and borrowers to minimize potential losses in the event of borrower default.
  • Collateral: Creditors can require the borrower to provide collateral such as property or other assets to secure a loan. This provides an additional source of repayment in case the borrower defaults on their obligations.
  • Risk-based pricing: Lending entities charge different interest rates based on the risk associated with the loan. Higher-risk loans will typically have higher interest rates than lower-risk loans.
  • Guarantees: Lenders can also require the borrower to provide a guarantor to back up their loan payments in the event of default.

Impact of credit risk

Credit risk can impact financial institutions, the economy, and investors. Lenders failing to manage their credit risk properly may result in losses that affect their bottom line. This can damage the ability of financial institutions to provide lending services, which may have a ripple effect on the economy. Additionally, credit risk can also have a major impact on investors. When lenders incur losses from defaulted loans, they may be unable to pay back their investors, potentially leading to significant losses.

Ramp: Your partner in credit risk management

Ramp can help you better understand and manage your credit risk. We provide a suite of tools that enable you to assess, monitor, and manage your credit risk. Our powerful analytical tools help you understand your credit risk and provide in-depth insights into your financial status. Additionally, our robust monitoring features help you stay on top of loan repayments and manage the risk associated with your credit portfolio.

Get started today and experience the power of Ramp in your credit risk management strategy.

Content Marketing Manager, Ramp

Richard Moy is an experienced freelance Content Marketing Manager supporting Ramp. Prior to joining Ramp, he served as a content marketer and editor at BetterCloud and Stack Overflow.

Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


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