Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The State of XBRL: XBRL in the United States

After close to a decade of preparation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) completed its three-stage implementation plan for all US filers in June 2012 when the smallest reporting companies began filing with fully-detailed note sections. Today currently over fifteen thousand public companies and eight thousand banking institutions use XBRL to submit financial data to the SEC. With XBRL fully implemented, companies and analysts are developing ways to use the interactive data.

One of the largest roadblocks for XBRL-based analysis in the U.S. has been a lack of trust in the un-audited XBRL data. By this fall, all companies will be legally liable for the data they release in their XBRL. As such, the ability to thoroughly and efficiently audit XBRL documents will quickly become a high priority. Check out our  XBRL audit|pro”  for one such tool.

Once companies are consistently held accountable for the accuracy of their XBRL data, investors and the public will be able to rely on XBRL output to make investment decisions. Recently, many companies have begun rolling out “analysis tools”, enabling users to quickly extract and use XBRL data from multiple filers.

To encourage the development and distribution of such tools, XBRL US has hosted an annual XBRL challenge. This has helped produce open source analysis tools that mine XBRL financial data from the SEC’s EDGAR database.

This year’s winner was Sector3 which allows users to easily model and compare industry sectors, taking user-specified sectors and outputting Excel data. Other analysis tools include:
  • Calcbench has developed a cloud-based XBRL analysis solution that uses learning algorithms to standardize XBRL data to help with true side-by-side company comparisons.    
  • 9w Search uses XBRL data to help users comb through public data while creating custom reports. 
  • Altova’s Mapforce is an advanced graphical mapping, conversion, and integration tool, enabling users to map data between any combination of XML, database, flat file, EDI, Excel, XBRL, and/or Web service. 
  • The SEC itself is developing it's own tool to use XBRL data to analyze industry-specific risks relating to accounting disclosures.
What do you think about the current state of XBRL in the U.S.? Do you see investors or companies finding the data useful? If not, what developments will be required for XBRL to turn the corner in the States?

Stay tuned for future posts about XBRL development in Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world!