All members of the financial reporting community should be aware of XBRL, the computer language that could become the primary vehicle for delivering business reports to investors and regulators.
Progress consistent with that outcome is more substantial than is widely understood. All parties who could be affected should be aware of XBRL developments and assess how they might be affected.
A few facts make the case for substantial progress. U.S. banking regulators have required quarterly “Call Reports” to be filed in XBRL since October 2005, a requirement affecting over 8,000 banks. In April 2005, the SEC began a voluntary financial reporting program that allows registrants to supplement their required filings with exhibits using XBRL, and in September 2006, it announced efforts to prepare its electronic reporting system to receive XBRL filings. Because volunteers in the SEC’s program may include audit opinions on whether their XBRL exhibits accurately reflect the corresponding information in the official filings, the standard setter for audits of
SEC registrants, the Public Company Oversight Board, has issued staff questions and answers by way of guidance. Many comparable activities have taken place in other countries, and the XBRL movement is otherwise international. The primary standards for reporting in XBRL are determined by an international body. Regulators in China,
Spain, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have required companies to use
XBRL; the Tokyo Stock Exchange has accepted XBRL information since early 2003; and Canadian securities regulators will begin accepting XBRL data in May 2007.
List of Abbreviations
AICPA American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
ASB Auditing Standards Board
EDGAR Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation