Purpose ‐ Aims to increase our understanding of the role of intangibles in credit risk analysis and of the main factors which enable or disable the impact of intellectual capital (IC) reports. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Discusses recent findings from the
European Union-funded E*Know-Net project (2001-2003) and reviews other works on the subject. This literature review is complemented with two case studies. The first presents the results of an experimental workshop with 12 credit risk analysts from Banco Santander Central Hispano, a major Spanish
bank. The second case study looks at how the European Investment Bank integrates intangibles into its project appraisal process. Findings ‐ Provides a comprehensive conceptual framework to analyze the impact of IC reporting in credit risk analysis. Argues that there is a significant
gap between the perceived potential impact of IC reports and their real impact in practice, and proposes a classification of the barriers in the market for corporate information that help explain this apparent paradox. The case studies presented illustrate some of the factors that enable or
disable the impact of IC reporting in practice. Originality/value ‐ Increases understanding of the relevance and impact of intangibles and IC reports in the lending process. Draws conclusions for companies, credit institutions and policy makers.