The Time Is Now to Look at XBRL
As I mentioned in my December letter, I am encouraged by the promise that XBRL — an interactive data-based language that allows the tagging of financial (and potentially non-financial) information — holds in enhancing the ability of investors to analyze companies. I believe XBRL can significantly improve the accessibility and accuracy of financial statements and, ultimately, the quality of our global capital markets.
Recently, the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA) held a seminar on XBRL at Baruch College. I wish you could have joined me at the seminar where Tom Larsen, CFA, chair of our XBRL working group, delivered an informative presentation (PDF) and I provided an update (PDF) on our involvement in this area.
If you haven't already, it is now time for you to take a good look at this new technology. Fundamental analysts, portfolio managers, credit analysts, quants, risk modelers, and academics should all evaluate how XBRL may change their investment processes. XBRL has developed to a degree where it is worth your while to investigate. We will attempt to deliver this information to your doorstep or desktop, although seeing the live presentations would be most effective.
In addition, in order to accelerate adoption of XBRL by companies, I urge you to ask company management where they stand with XBRL implementation. A little nudge from many of you will pay dividends.
CFA Institute, through its Centre for Financial Market Integrity, has formed an XBRL working group of nine members from diverse investment professional backgrounds, which has been charged with three main tasks: 1) Draft a position paper on the use of XBRL-tagged data in financial reporting from the end-users' perspective; 2) Survey CFA Institute members about the key elements needed to develop and maintain a high-quality XBRL system for delivering information to investors and investment professionals; and 3) Provide detailed implementation feedback to the SEC and to XBRL US Inc., the primary organization for the development of the XBRL taxonomy for financial statements and note disclosures provided for SEC filings.
We will keep you posted of further developments.
We are certainly looking forward to that!