Two new competitors, Kroll Bond Rating Agency and Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, are out to make their mark on the world of credit ratings. The timing couldn't be better for new players. The rating agencies' reputations took a beating during the credit crisis when they had to slash their ratings on huge numbers of mortgage-backed securities. There are opportunities for new players that can do things better.

"Competition is necessary, and the market has laid groundwork for more agencies to enter," says Jeff Glenzer, managing director at the Association for Financial Professionals.

Lawrence White, a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business, says that as an investor, he wants as many opinions out there as possible. Additional rating agencies will mean more ideas, new technologies, new models and new ways of assessing risk, White says.

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