XBRL Update: New Functionality for Interactive Data

June 27, 2012
by Nicholas Messing, XBRL Accountant, Business Wire New York
Nicholas Messing

Nicholas Messing

The upcoming filing season looks to be one of the busiest yet for XBRL preparers, with all US public companies submitting financial statements to the SEC required to include detail-tagged XBRL as of June 15, 2012. As the XBRL mandate reaches full implementation for SEC filings, the functionality of XBRL continues to expand through various initiatives including the DATA Act, corporate actions, and Business Wire’s Retail Report.

XBRL has increased its presence in the US Congress with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which the House of Representatives unanimously passed on April 25, 2012. Known as the DATA act, this bill provides for a broader implementation of data reporting standards to track federal spending data. Following its strong bipartisan success in the House, the DATA Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Similar to the Child and Family Services Innovation and Improvement Act, which was signed into law in October 2011, the DATA Act includes a significant reference to XBRL: “In designating reporting standards… the Commission shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate existing nonproprietary standards, such as the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).”

XBRL US released the 2012 Corporate Actions Taxonomy for public comment on May 17, 2012. This is the second version of the Corporate Actions Taxonomy, designed to tag over 50 types of corporate actions announcements, including mergers and acquisitions, dividends, redemptions, tender offers, and stock splits. Approximately 200,000 corporate actions are released each year in the US, and these textual announcements require time-consuming manual steps to process as financial data. XBRL tagging of corporate actions releases would enhance the efficiency of downstream processing across the financial community. XBRL US has teamed with The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) and The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to promote the use of XBRL tagging for corporate actions in accordance with the existing ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards.

On May 3, 2012, Business Wire became the first commercial newswire to map, tag and disseminate its own content in XBRL format. XBRL exhibits utilizing the US GAAP taxonomy now accompany Business Wire’s Retail Report, which is released monthly to Business Wire’s full national circuit. Published on the day that retailers announce sales figures for the previous month, the report tracks specialty apparel and general merchandise retailers’ monthly and year-to-date total sales with percentage comparisons across periods, alongside comparative stores’ sales growth data. To date, the April and May 2012 Retail Reports have been published with supplemental XBRL files, which may be freely downloaded and rendered through the SEC’s XBRL previewer, to facilitate analysis of retail sales data. Two members of Business Wire’s XBRL team, Senior XBRL Financial Reporting Specialist Belayneh Alemayehu and Junior XBRL Accountant Khondakar Moin, have provided their expertise to translate the Retail Report into XBRL. While Business Wire’s XBRL team has been proactively preparing for the final wave of the SEC’s XBRL mandate, we have also implemented a new innovation in interactive data.


Stuart Zatkow Appointed to XBRL US Committee Post

February 16, 2012
by Nicholas Messing, XBRL Accountant

Congratulations are in order for Stuart Zatkow, Senior XBRL Financial Reporting Specialist at Business Wire, who joined the XBRL US Domain Steering Committee in January 2012. This committee oversees the development of XBRL taxonomies, relying upon a blend of accounting and financial knowledge and technical proficiency. With more than 40 years of financial reporting experience in both the public and private sectors, Stuart (or “Stu,” as his colleagues know him) is looking forward to contributing his XBRL expertise to serve the community as a committee member.

As Zatkow explains, “I hope that [the Domain Steering Committee] can foster development of additional taxonomies for purposes of applying interactive data to more areas of reporting than the basic financial statements, notes and mutual fund prospectus summary information, especially those that would greatly benefit downstream consumption of XBRL data.” Zatkow added that he believes his relationships formed as a member of the US GAAP taxonomy team from 2007 to 2009 and through his XBRL consulting engagements will be helpful in achieving the committee’s objectives.


XBRL Update: U.S. XBRL Initiative Begins to Move Beyond SEC Reporting

October 21, 2011
by Nicholas Messing, Junior XBRL Accountant/Business Wire
Nicholas Messing

Nicholas Messing

A recent piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama has caused a flurry of excitement in the XBRL community. The Child and Family Services Innovation and Improvement Act (H.R. 2883) might at first glance appear to be unrelated to the financial data coding world of XBRL, since the bulk of the bill is devoted to extending child and family welfare programs from the Social Security Act through the year 2016.

The key section for XBRL, however, is Sec. 105, Data Standardization for Improved Data Matching. This section explains a new requirement for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to designate common data elements and reporting standards for state-submitted reports on federal child welfare funds. Here, XBRL makes a surprise appearance: “The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate existing non-proprietary standards, such as the eXtensible Business Reporting Language.”

Needless to say, this “shout-out”  to XBRL in federal legislation has not been taken lightly; and XBRL US, the nonprofit consortium for XBRL standards, has been vocal in their support. Campbell Pryde, President and CEO of XBRL US, issued the following statement: “Data and technology standards are critical to ensuring accurate, timely and consistent reporting of information. The application of XBRL as outlined in H.R. 2883 would significantly improve communication between the States and social services programs. We commend the President and the leaders in Congress responsible for this Act which help the Department of Health and Human Services administer its child welfare programs and better serve children who need help.”

On October 12, XBRL US held a Town Hall conference call to discuss the new and pending XBRL-related legislation. Since the passage of H.R. 2883, the next bill up to bat for XBRL in the House and Senate may be the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. The DATA Act would further extend the reach of XBRL by requiring federal agencies to adopt financial data standards such as XBRL in order to better monitor federal spending.

Hudson Hollister, Counsel at House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke in favor of the DATA Act by saying, “XBRL pretty much occupies the field when it comes to organizing financial data and disseminating it… The adoption of XBRL for federal spending information would have very beneficial long-term effects on the federal government’s ability to analyze and disseminate, in a transparent fashion, its own spending information.”  Amy Edwards, Performance Budgeting Specialist for the Senate Budget Committee, discussed her work toward building support for the DATA Act in the Senate, and Diana Deem of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants described the AICPA’s grassroots campaign, which includes letters of support for the DATA Act and meetings to educate members of Congress on XBRL.

Echoing this sentiment, Brad Monterio, on behalf of The Institute of Management Accountants voiced the IMA’s support for both pieces of legislation in a press release which recently crossed our wire: “We urge members of Congress to pass the DATA Act and use XBRL as a tool to create transparency and accountability for government, much in the same way it did for The Child and Family Services Act.”

It is clearly significant that US lawmakers have begun to recognize the value of XBRL as a universal data reporting standard. These legislative developments suggest that future applications of XBRL are very likely to extend beyond the realm of SEC filings as the functionality of XBRL continues to expand and advance.


XBRL Update: July 2010

July 12, 2010

On July 8th, the SEC deployed updates to its official XBRL rendering engine (“Viewer” and “Previewer”) to address rendering issues for footnotes tagged at a detailed level. Below, learn more about this development.

Q2 2010 is the first quarter many Large Accelerated filers will begin filing footnotes tagged at a detailed level along with their face financial statements.  Unfortunately, preliminary rendering results with the old Viewer were not very promising. For example, our testing showed the following rendering errors for information tagged at the detailed level (to name a few):

  • Certain segment reporting information and dimension members did not render
  • Notes tagged at a detailed level with the words “Cash” or “Equity” in the group title did not render
  • Unrelated monetary elements, abstracts, data and time periods rendered repeatedly in multiple different notes, which lead to misleading information and made reviewing virtually impossible
  • Decimals and currencies did not render appropriately

To facilitate the first wave of XBRL filings with detailed level information, the SEC enhanced its rendering engine to eliminate certain rendering errors and issues.

What does this mean to my company?
The SEC’s enhanced Viewer fixes many “bugs” and minor rendering issues for both year one and year two requirements. Significant fixes primarily relate to:

  • Improved handling of mixed data types (units and decimals) within the same report.  The Viewer can now display different units of measure in each group
  • Updates to level iv detail tagged rendering to ensure complete display of all tagged data and improved rendering of column headings
  • Allows for the display of currency symbols to ensure currency symbols are not displayed in the rendering for non-monetary amounts
  • Improvements made to display non U.S. Dollar and other symbols
  • Enhancements to Statement of Stockholders’ Equity rendering and detailed reports to eliminate duplicated ending balances

However, one issue that is not fixed relates to the 2009 Commitments and Contingencies element.  Accordingly, we will continue to use the SEC prescribed workaround for this line item, where applicable.  Business Wire is already updating the source code on our rendering tool and we expect to have it running with the enhancements shortly.

Finally, please keep in mind that although the SEC’s Viewer has been updated, differences between the HTML and XBRL filings will continue to exist.  Potential rendering differences expected for Level iv detailed tagging include:

  • Labels in the same group may not exactly match the expected footnote labels
  • Narratives and tables may be combined or split up to improve rendering and review

Business Wire is more than happy to review with you rendering changes and differences that apply specifically to your filing.

Have any XBRL questions or concerns?  Simply contact us at XBRL@BusinessWire.com.


Business Wire White Papers Now Available

June 15, 2010

- by Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist

Recently, Business Wire launched a series of white papers on a variety of public relations- and investor relations-related topics. The first two in the series are now available:  Engaging Global Audiences – Public Relations and Bridging Borders by Neil Hershberg (Senior Vice President, Global Media) and The State of XBRL – Rules, Regulations and Best Practices by Michael Becker (Senior Vice President, Financial Product Strategy).

To download these valuable information pieces, visit http://GloMoSoMe.BusinessWire.com.


How Much Does XBRL Compliance Cost?

May 11, 2010

– by Michael Becker, Senior Vice President, Financial Product Strategy

Recently, I had the chance to address a question that’s becoming more common, and wanted to share the answer with readers of this blog: What does XBRL conversion cost? While I cannot tell you what other vendors and software companies charge, I can share that costs (time and money) are in line with or less than the SEC prediction on pp. 132 – 142 of its final rule (http://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2009/33-9002.pdf).

This is very positive news for the U.S. SEC XBRL initiative. Remember the SEC’s prediction that SOX compliance would average roughly $34,000? We know how that turned out.

A June 2010 article in the Journal of Corporate Finance entitled, “How costly is the Sarbanes Oxley Act? Evidence on the effects of the Act on corporate profitability,” states that the SEC initially estimated that the direct cost of SOX compliance would amount to about $91,000 for the average firm; however, subsequent estimates from a survey by Financial Executives International place the costs of SOX closer to $2.9 million per firm for 2006 (FEI, 2007). A Charles River Associates International (CRA, 2005) survey pegs 2004 SOX costs for firms with a market capitalization greater than $700 million at about $8.5 million; and at about $1.24 million for firms with a market capitalization between $75 and $700 million (CRA, 2005). These costs are substantial, averaging roughly 0.10% of revenues (Asthana et al., 2009; Eldridge and Kealey, 2005; Hartman, 2005, 2006; U.S. GAO, 2006).

As for IFRS, according to a recent CFO Magazine article, the SEC predicts that the largest U.S. registrants that adopt IFRS early would incur about $32 million in additional costs for their first IFRS-prepared annual reports. Smaller companies likely will have a disproportionately higher cost to begin the conversion process, if regulators mandate that they, as well as their larger counterparts, move to IFRS.

Therefore, it is imperative to keep the cost of XBRL conversion in perspective. XBRL conversion costs a fraction of other current and proposed SEC initiatives and the benefit, when all issuer financials are mapped and tagged, should be immense.


XBRL Update for April, 2010

April 20, 2010

Since our last update, there have been four significant XBRL developments:

  • Transition of responsibility for maintaining the US GAAP Taxonomy
  • SEC release of a new Previewer and Viewer engine
  • Update to the EDGAR Filer Manual
  • SEC Webinar focused on detailed tagging requirements.

Taxonomy Maintenance Transition
On February 5, 2010, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) announced the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy. The current 2009 taxonomy in use by SEC issuers was developed by XBRL US, Inc., an independent non-profit organization, with technical accounting support provided by the FASB. Going forward, XBRL US will transition to other projects with continued technical support from the FASB.

Read the rest of this entry »


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