June 25, 2018

This XBRL Thing Appears to Be Really Happening

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

There’s no time to take a breather when it comes to XBRL implementations. New projects, regulations and initiatives are launched or introduced somewhere around the globe just about weekly, it appears. CFOs with firms that have yet to join the group won’t be out of the loop much longer.

XBRL, the acronym for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, means that the data contained within financial reports is constructed as individual elements, rather than blocks of text. Each piece of data comes wit and is linked to accounting definitions or rules. So, a number that makes up annual revenue has a different identity than a number that goes into payroll expense. The result? The data becomes “computer readable,” or interactive, so analysts, investors and regulators can easily compare one set of financial data to another.

Consider the following announcements and events:


Public company filings in the US: The last group of public companies that have yet to file XBRL financial statements with the SEC will start doing so for fiscal periods ending on or after June 15 of next year. These generally will be companies with market caps of less than $75 million or annual revenue of less than $50 million.

Domestic Banks: Earlier this month, Citibank announced that it was participating in a pilot involving the use of XBRL within dividend announcements issued by American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs. ADR dividend announcements were a logical starting point, because they’re concentrated among a relatively small number of issuers, and currently require lots of paper and re-keying of information, as this article in Earth Times points out.

US Legislation: True, a provision contained in early versions of the Dodd-Frank bill, and which would have required federal regulators to use a standard electronic format, like XBRL, when collecting info from the financial sector never made it to the final version. However, this summer Rep. Darrell Issa of California introduced a bill (H.R. 6038) that would amend Dodd-Frank to again include this provision. On July 30, it was referred to both the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Agriculture.

Along those lines, the House and Senate currently are hammering out legislation, the 2009 Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act (S.303), which would require federal agencies to post spending data online in a uniform fashion – most likely, XBRL, NextGov reports. Just as XBRL will allow for easier analysis of corporate finances, this move would enable taxpayers and regulators to more easily examine federal spending and contracts.

Credit Agencies: Just before Labor Day, the SEC announced that a list of XBRL tags had been published on its website, and that nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) would need to begin using them by November 1 of this year.
Mutual Funds: By January of next year, mutual funds will be required to provide the SEC with summary information on risk and return from their prospectuses in XBRL format.

While XBRL’s benefits for investors have been the focus of much attention, the XBRL-related initiatives underway should benefit corporate America, as well, judging from a study by two researchers at Fordham University. In “XBRL and its financial reporting benefits: Capital market evidence,” Christine Tan and John Shon of Fordham write, “the findings of this study suggest that firms that file using XBRL experience a reduction in information asymmetry.” Moreover, XBRL may help smaller firms attract an analyst following, they add.

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

There’s no time to take a breather when it comes to XBRL implementations. New projects, regulations and initiatives are launched or introduced somewhere around the globe just about weekly, it appears. CFOs with firms that have yet to join the group won’t be out of the loop much longer.

XBRL, the acronym for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, means that the data contained within financial reports is constructed as individual elements, rather than blocks of text. Each piece of data comes with an identifying tag and is linked to accounting definitions or rules. So, a number that makes up annual revenue has a different identity than a number that goes into payroll expense. The result? The data becomes “computer readable,” or interactive, so analysts, investors and regulators can easily compare one set of financial data to another.

Consider the following announcements and events:


Public company filings in the US: The last group of public companies that have yet to file XBRL financial statements with the SEC will start doing so for fiscal periods ending on or after June 15 of next year. These generally will be companies with market caps of less than $75 million or annual revenue of less than $50 million.

Domestic Banks: Earlier this month, Citibank announced that it was participating in a pilot involving the use of XBRL within dividend announcements issued by American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs. ADR dividend announcements were a logical starting point, because they’re concentrated among a relatively small number of issuers, and currently require lots of paper and re-keying of information, as this article in Earth Times points out.

US Legislation: True, a provision contained in early versions of the Dodd-Frank bill, and which would have required federal regulators to use a standard electronic format, like XBRL, when collecting info from the financial sector never made it to the final version. However, this summer Rep. Darrell Issa of California introduced a bill (H.R. 6038) that would amend Dodd-Frank to again include this provision. On July 30, it was referred to both the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Agriculture.

Along those lines, the House and Senate currently are hammering out legislation, the 2009 Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act (S.303), which would require federal agencies to post spending data online in a uniform fashion – most likely, XBRL, NextGov reports. Just as XBRL will allow for easier analysis of corporate finances, this move would enable taxpayers and regulators to more easily examine federal spending and contracts.

Credit Agencies: Just before Labor Day, the SEC announced that a list of XBRL tags had been published on its website, and that nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) would need to begin using them by November 1 of this year.
Mutual Funds: By January of next year, mutual funds will be required to provide the SEC with summary information on risk and return from their prospectuses in XBRL format.

While XBRL’s benefits for investors have been the focus of much attention, the XBRL-related initiatives underway should benefit corporate America, as well, judging from a study by two researchers at Fordham University. In “XBRL and its financial reporting benefits: Capital market evidence,” Christine Tan and John Shon of Fordham write, “the findings of this study suggest that firms that file using XBRL experience a reduction in information asymmetry.” Moreover, XBRL may help smaller firms attract an analyst following, they add.

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KPMG Arrives at the Paperless Audit Party

office-space-402a-061907.jpgWe’ve received several reports about Klynveldians attending “eAudit” training this summer which marks the firm’s attempt to get break into the “paperless” audit world. Reports have been mixed with some saying that it’s best technology KPMG has invested in but others claiming that it will only run on Vista which may be problematic when Windows 7 rolls out.
Forgetting the technology mumbo-jumbo, it’s been long rumored that KPMG was the last major firm to make the move to a paperless audit. This could have been due to a number of things:
More, after the jump


• Partners that have been around since WWII that can’t even use email put the kibosh on the whole idea
• M-O-N-E-Y
• Accountants, in general, resist the idea of trying a new restaurant so don’t even think about messing with their audit methods
What’s more surprising is that some Radio Station clients have said that they prefer the old school audit. Not exactly sure what is so appealing about young auditors schleping around boxes of binders that weigh a few metric asstons but whatevs.
Our point, dude, is that KPMG has finally caved on this whole “paperless” idea. Since audits aren’t truly paperless we’re not sure what all the fuss is about but KPMGers got an extra week in Florida in the dead of summer out of it. Discuss the firm breaking into the new century in the comments or let us know how terrible your lives will be because of it.

(UPDATE) Big 4 Technology: Open Thread

Thumbnail image for Apple-II.jpgEditor’s Note: Francine McKenna is a regular contributor to Going Concern
We recently received a tip about KPMG implementing a new risk management system for vetting potential clients and engagements. The new system was put in place around the time of the second round of layoffs and according to our tip, things did not go smoothly.
Simply put, it didn’t work. Since the whole risk management thing is a big deal for any accounting firm, people were working day and night to try and get it fixed. Did we mention the layoffs? Right. They occurred right when this whole SNAFU was occurring.
Our source described the risk management process as a “total nightmare” for basically two weeks. Good news, is that things seem to be back to normal but it sounds like it was pre-tay, pre-tay hairy for a while there.
Most accounting firms, especially the Big 4, are heavily dependent on the efficient functioning of their technology. But, aside from reading this fine publication, you probably spend a good chunk of your time dealing with tech related headaches.
Firms trying to go paperless, firms still using Lotus Notes, and we’ve heard that KPMG is currently upgrading its basic operating system to run on…Windows Vista.
On the positive side, Deloitte is issuing iPhones and that’s basically all we got…
We asked our contributor, Francine McKenna for her thoughts on the Big 4’s investment in technology:

The Big 4 operate under the “shoemaker’s children” doctrine when it comes to their own technology infrastructure. Every once and a while you’ll see a big splashy investment but partners loathe spending their potential payout on common goods, and investments for the future: “If I don’t understand it or perceive a need for it, I don’t want to spend any of my money on it.” Very few of the rank and file partners understand or appreciate the firm’s technology infrastructure needs.

Discuss your firm’s technology (or lack thereof). The good, the bad, the stuff that makes you want to drop kick your laptop out the window.