Certification is a process by which a third party, the certification body, provides the warranty that an entity complies with a list of requirements specified in a specification for a standard. An assessment revealing conformity with a standard gives the right to the issuance of a certificate of conformity.
International Organization For Standardization (ISO)

The MSI 20000 standard informs about the good financial governance of economic entities
Rama Cont – President of MSI Observatory

MSI 20000®

The MSI approach constitutes the financial tool for assessing the quality of companies’ financial governance. The 2000s scandals and crises which regularly rocked the world of business, have given rise to a lack of confidence in traditional systems of financial evaluation. In this context, the MSI evaluation approach has successfully gained a foothold on the market in order to limit dysfunctions, promote the best financial practices and reinsure stakeholders on the good financial situation of assessed entities. Following the evaluation, the compliance with the MSI 20000 Standard leads to the issuance of a certificate of conformity MSI 20000.

For companies, the added value of the MSI 20000 Certificate is twofold:

The evaluation reports clearly describe the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s financial situation, through a complete diagnostic. Through its measurement models, the relevance of the approach and the evaluation methodology, allows to aim towards optimization of financial management processes. Potential deficiencies can be detected and anticipated. Alerts along with adapted recommendations, constitute a constructive and concrete approach of improvement and allow the companies to enter a process of continuous improvement.


An evaluation that successfully leads to certification constitutes a reliable communication tool and a strong argument, by showing the compliance with a set of conformity requirements. The financial certification MSI 20000, represents a commitment and a strong initiative of validation at a moment in time, of an evolutive system according to a quality standard. Recognized by finance professionals, the use of the compliance marks MSI 20000, directly contribute to the valuation and the attractiveness of a company within its environment. The financial certification is well recognized and monitored by financial markets, as well as by the economic actors (customers, suppliers, strategic partners) and financial operators (lenders, investors, shareholders), looking for reliable and independent financial benchmarks.

Repository: MSI 20000 [Market Standard Indicator – Index 20000]
Definition: International Standard for the Quality of the Financial Position of Economic Entities
Theme: Finance
Creation: 2008
Scope: Global

Companies of all sizes, all sectors of activity combined, listed or unlisted and having at least 3 financial years approved by a legal auditor.
Companies in search of valuation, with a view to a fundraising or an IPO, for commercial and market considerations, the search for strategic partners, for the consolidation of relations with suppliers, investors, shareholders, creditors, etc. ….

An accredited certification body receives the demand from beneficiaries requesting for the evaluation to the MSI 20000 certification. The certifiers collect the data on behalf of the evaluators, who carry out the financial analysis on the basis of the accounting information, taken from the financial statements press releases.
The assessment is carried out using labeled FinTech tools, ensuring reliability and speed of execution. These tools follow a precise guideline, that of the specifications of the MSI 20000 repository. The specifications of the repository aim to measure the financial quality of any economic entity. Financial quality is mathematically measured by the fine and precise assessment of the financial strength and financial performance of beneficiaries undergoing the assessment exercise. The specifications of the MSI 20000 Standard carefully cover, by sector of activity and for each of the analysis themes, a battery of financial instruments and econometric models.

International certification bodies are authorized to issue MSI 20000 certification. These bodies are accredited on specific criteria, in particular the application of the ISO 17021 standard dedicated to certification bodies. This standard ensures the respect of key principles such as consistency, competence, impartiality and independence in the development of assessment missions. At the end of the said evaluations, strictly framed by the ISO 17021 standard, the certifier is able to rule on the conformity of the beneficiary evaluated against the MSI 20000 standard. In the event of revealed and justified conformity giving right to certification, the international regulations of system certifications, allows the issuance of a certificate of conformity valid for a period of 3 years subject to the obligation ofcontinuous compliance with the standard requirement. This compliance is validated by annual surveillance audits.

The interests of the MSI 20000 certification process are based on the business expertise that results from the assessment and on the certification in the event of representativeness of the MSI 20000 standard, making it possible, on the one hand, to concretely insert the beneficiary into a process of continuous improvement enabled thanks to the PDCA mechanism and on the other hand to benefit from a magnificent communicational tool, in terms of promotion and attractiveness.


Every company across the world, in all sectors of activity, whether a small business or a multinational, is concerned with the establishement, at least annually, of its financial statements.
Financial statements reflect the accounting position of a business. Keeping the financial statements of a company is generally of a legal and mandatory nature, allowing a structured financial representation of the company, according to usual and common reading standards.
Financial statements are one of the main decision-making tools within a company and by definition, a remarkableinstrument to asses the financial situation of a company regarding its past situations, but also compared to other companies.
Financial statements serve as basis for financial analyzes and technical diagnoses and therefore lead to the interpretation of the results. The MSI 20000 financial certification is precisely based on this process.

The MSI 20000 certification is based on the financial assessment of economic entities, in particular through the analysis of their financial statements.
The MSI 20000 certification process is intended to be simple, clear and unconstrained. It is about issuing a reliable and concrete opinion, built on the analysis of the financial situation of a specific economic entity. The MSI 20000 analysis is neutral, objective and universal.
The certification highlights the rigor of the scientific approach and the methodology used for evaluating the financial statements entrusted, guaranteeing fairness and the replicability of the evaluation.
It relies on a mechanism leading to the organization of the process, from the phase of collecting quantitative data (accounting and financial information), to the evaluation phase, in order to obtain the financial certification MSI 20000.

A comparative study on the theme of “Corporate Finance” allows to precisely integrate the financial certification activity in the life cycle of a company.
It is worth noting that the financial certification is strategically located between the statutory audit and the financial rating. Practically speaking, the Statutory Auditors, the Financial Certification and the Financial Rating are the three central and essential activities in the lifetime of a company. These activities are complementary to each other.

The MSI 20000 Standard officially emerged after the “subprime” crisis in 2008, between New York and Paris, driven by researchers and financial professionals. Initially and after the bankruptcy of the American bank Lehman Brothers, on September 15, 2008, it was a question of identifying the soundest listed financial institutions, in order to avoid by construction and contagion effect, to reproduce the crash of 2008. However, given demand, the standard has been rolled out very quickly to all types of companies, listed or not, all sectors of activity involved. In 2017, the MSI 20000 standard became the international standard for financial quality; following a period of 100 months of experimentation, within a strictly supervised scope. In 2018, the standard was taken up and distributed by the world leaders in certification.

The MSI 20000 financial certification is a collective project that brings together leading experts and skills from the international economic and financial sphere.
The MSI Observatory, a non-profit NGO, scientifically carries the MSI 20000 repository, with non-profit aims.
The MSI Observatory is the body in charge of disseminating and regulating the MSI 20000 standard. The mission of the Observatory is to update its audience regarding the MSI norms and to update the standard as well as to control its fields of application.


MSI 20000 for Market Standard Indicator – Index 20000, is the international standard dedicated to evalutate the quality of a company’s financial situation.
The MSI 20000 specifications set out the specific requirements for the financial quality of companies, according to their sector of activity

MSI 20000 was developed by experts in the financial sector and meets the most stringent financial quality compliance requirements.

Compliance with the MSI 20000 standard may give rise to the issue of a certification by a certification body authorized / accredited on the said reference system.

The MSI 20000 certification is presented as a benchmark for shareholders, investors, creditors, partners, suppliers, customers, etc.

Following the Enron affair in 2001, finance specialists and professionals initiated a reflection on the establishment of an instrument which would make it possible to identify the most financially sound structures. The 2008 financial crisis definitively revealed the MSI 20000 repository, in order to make it evolve and lead to its version currently enforced and which today constitutes the benchmark in terms of financial quality indicators.

The creation of the MSI 20000 repository therefore emerged out of a need in the stock markets, that is of providing more visibility on the financial health of listed companies.

The MSI 20000 standard embodies the implementation of neutral and reliable indicators.

Today, the distribution of the MSI 20000 standard has spread to all types of businesses.

It is the MSI Observatory. This NGO is composed of international experts in corporate finance and market finance.
The MSI Observatory brings together highly-skilled people from the financial sphere (experts, researchers, professors, analysts, etc.), from universities, research centers, stock exchanges, investment banks, financial backers, etc.

The MSI 20000 is also a benchmark with an international dimension. Numerous finance professionals around the world, from major financial centers (New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore), have contributed in a detached and independent manner to the development of the standard.

The achievement of the MSI 20000 standard is the result of several years of work, followed by a rigorous period of experimentation.

In 2017, after 8 years of experimentation with companies (SMEs, Large Enterprises, Multinationals) from 44 sectors of activity (energy, agro-food, banking, lease, insurance, reinsurance, various industries, etc.), the MSI 20000 standard is made available to international markets.

The compliance according to the MSI 20000 standard is verified by an independent certification body, through third party assessment.

The certificate, attesting the compliance with the MSI 20000 standard, is issued for 3 years following an initial audit and as provided for by the international regulations for system / quality certification. Annual control audits are carried out in n + 1 and n + 2, in order to ensure continued compliance with the MSI 20000 standard.

These audits of the financial management system are carried out in accordance with the principles of ISO 17021 *.

The certification gives the right to use the MSI 20000 conformity marks.

(*) ISO 17021 standard “Requirements for Bodies providing Audit and Certification of Management Systems”

The standard is applicable to all types of companies, national or international, private or public, listed on the stock exchange or not, all sectors of activity combined.

The aim is to measure the quality of the company’s financial situation.

The financial statements approved by an auditor serve as a basis for the evaluations.

The financial quality of a company is measured on the one hand, by the evaluation of its financial solidity and on the other hand, by the evaluation of its financial performance. Each of these areas of analysis is organized into themes and sub-themes.
The financial solidity is measured by assessing several themes ranging from asset management to liquidity management, including risk management.

The financial performance is measured by evaluating several themes ranging from operational management to operating profitability, including economic profitability.

All of these themes and their sub-themes are brought together in the specifications of the MSI 20000 standard.

There are two types of audits: the initial audit is performed to decide on the award of certification to the MSI 20000 standard and surveillance audits to ensure annual compliance with the standard and allow certification to be maintained.

The audits take place according to the following process:

  • The certifier schedules a kick-off meeting with the company, to collect the necessary documentation to undertake the mission.
  • The documents are analyzed by financial auditors, specialized by sector. For the sake of independence, no human resources from the company are mobilized.
  • At the end of the evaluation process, the conclusions are compared and cross-referenced with data from MSI OBSERVATORY, observed sectorally on an international scale, grouped under the name “MSI Referents”.

The audits are the subject of complete and in-depth financial diagnoses, presented and delivered to the company. These diagnoses carried out annually on the basis of the MSI methodology, in the form of a report, include:

  • A Presentation of the strengths to be consolidated.
  • A Presentation of the weak points to be corrected: minor and / or major non-compliance.
  • A Statement of levers for improvement.
  • A Statement of gaps and risks in terms of financial management.
  • Conclusions by topic of analysis.
  • Detection of deficiencies and anticipation of potential future dysfunctions.
  • Issue of alerts and sector recommendations.
  • An Action plan: proposal of objectives and milestones to be reached.
  • Monitoring of changes in the financial situation.
  • International sector benchmarking according to the MSI approach.
  • Each report is accompanied by a summary, covering the themes and sub-themes of analysis, presented in a clear and simplified format.

Following the assessment, the aggregation of all the analytical instruments represents 7000 points, transcribed on a scale of 200 points, in order to facilitate the reading process. The instruments resulting from the evaluation themes and sub-themes are measured by coefficients according to their importance and weight in the sector.

The Certification can be issued if the conclusions of the certification audit are greater than 100 points.

In accordance with the current international regulations relating to quality system certification, this certification is issued for a periode of 3 years, after achieving a favorable opinion from the initial audit, having demonstrated in a reasoned and justified manner, compliance with the MSI 20000 standard.

Proof of certification is the certificate of conformity issued by an accredited third party certification body. The certificate is issued on a protected document, it includes an identifier, a serial number and the period of validity of the certification.

The certified company can also rely on its official documentation (administrative, commercial and communication media) of the MSI 20000 conformity marks, in accordance with the related user manual.

Finally, the MSI Observatory Organization can also provide any information in this regard, within the limits of the protection of confidential information.

In addition, an updated database, on the MSI site, lists the economic entities and financial institutions, certified MSI 20000, on an international scale, all certifiers combined.

Accredited certification bodies may, under certain conditions, issue MSI 20000 certification.

International certification bodies are predisposed to collaborate on the MSI 20000 standard. Since 2018, the world leaders in certification have been authorized to issue the MSI 20000 certification.

At the same time, for smaller certification bodies that are ISO 17021 accredited, they are able to issue MSI 20000 certification. Indeed, the ISO 17021 standard guarantees the respect of the the MSI 20000 assessment and certification process, based on the main principles specific to the standardization and certification activity, namely:

Impartiality :

The evaluations are carried out within the premises of the certifier without intervention of the beneficiary’s resources. Only mission coordinators are in contact with the audited / assessed entity.

Confidentiality :

Strict respect of the confidential information throughout and after the assessment and certification process.

The competence :

Auditors are qualified according to their business expertise, in financial analysis and evaluation, by business sector.

Coherence :

The audit procedures are supervised and standardized, and the specifications list the requirements to be followed.
The evaluations are carried out on objective criteria, built on a mathematical and scientific reasoning.

Based on its financial diagnosis, certification to the MSI 20000 standard offers :

  • A sectoral comparison and the positioning of the company on its sectoral mapping on an international scale.
  • A guide to elaborate and assist decision-making process in terms of financial strategies.
  • A viable financial information system and sustainable financial patterns.
  • A valuation of the financial situation and activity.
  • A lever for advancing good financial practices.
  • An indicator of solvency and profitability.
  • An index of risk control and integration of sectoral precautions in financial matters.
  • The commitment to continuous improvement in financial attractiveness.
  • A guarantee of financial quality for economic and financial partners.
  • A reliable and concrete benchmark for the market, economic operators and financial players.
  • An anchor on the international scene.
  • A competitive advantage.

The statutory audit is an accounting exercise or accounting expertise, aimed at ensuring the veracity of the accounts according to the writing standards in force, so that they accurately reflect the reality of the accounting situation of a company.

Financial certification is an exercise that takes place after the statutory audit and which consists in restating and analyzing the accounting information, in order to move towards analysis and financial engineering, by interpreting the figures in their context.

MSI 20000 certification involves the application of ratios, financial instruments and other econometric models as part of the assessment.

The purpose of the MSI 20000 certification is to scientifically measure the quality of a company’s financial situation, with a view to locating the company’s position on a sectoral map.

The purpose of financial rating is to assess the ability of a counterparty to honor a credit, generally before its subscription. A rating is therefore generally assigned within the framework of a specific transaction; whereas a financial certification is the result on the part of the company of a quest for improvement and enhancement.

A certification is based, by definition, on present and factual elements, while the rating incorporates future forecast elements.

Certifications are governed by universal principles, uniformization and standardization. The rating scales are specific and specific to each rating agency; their criteria may vary from one rating agency to another.