Standardizing business reporting language
In a bid to ensure greater transparency and accessibility to their financial reports, most public companies today make their financial statement information available online. It is widely acknowledged this addresses the needs of regulators and benefits investors and other financial market participants.
Yet, despite best intentions to improve financial reporting processes, many companies publish their traditional financial reports in inflexible formats, such as PDF files. As a result, users of financial information still experience difficulty locating and extracting key financial data from online statements.
To further complicate the issue, few companies adhere to standardized financial statement "taxonomies." Essentially these are dictionaries that provide a standard description and classification system for financial data. By failing to adopt common taxonomies, companies make it that much harder for analysts, investors, regulators and other interested parties to effectively compare data from disparate organizations or calculate useful trends and ratios.
The good news is there is a simple solution: Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, a royalty-free, open standard for business reporting that may be on its way to revolutionizing the way financial information is created, shared, and analyzed.
XBRL has been under development by the CICA, AICPA and other professional bodies and companies as a vehicle for electronic financial and business reporting.
The following table provides direct links to the current taxonomies and accompanying guides to prepare XBRL filings.
|Taxonomies||Tools and Guides|
Global Reporting Initiative Taxonomy for Sustainability Taxonomy (Deloitte NL, GRI)
Interactive Data for Financial Reporting (SEC's guide)
IFRS Taxonomy Guide (IASCF, PDF)
IFRS taxonomy viewing tool (subscription required)
- Proposed Principles and Criteria for XBRL-Formatted Information (AICPA)
- Summary of XBRL information for Phase 3 Filers (SEC)
- Read the SEC letter: SEC current official position on IFRS filings (SEC, PDF)
- IFRS Foundation publishes illustrative examples in XBRL for the IFRS Taxonomy 2011 (IASB)
- Interactive Data for Financial Reporting (SEC's guide)
- PCAOB Staff Q&A: Attest Engagements Regarding XBRL
- Implementing XBRL for Electronic Filing of Information with the Government of Canada (XBRL Canada, CICA, 16-page PDF file)
- New Publication from ISACA and IFAC Helps Organizations Maximize the Value of XBRL (ISACA, IFAC)
- Download: Leveraging XBRL for Value in Organizations
- An Innovative Approach to Data Integration - XBRL GL, a webcast replay (XBRL Canada)
- XBRL Webinar featuring Paul Cherry, veteran of International Accounting Standard Setting, and Wasim Thaha, chair, a webcast replay (XBRL Canada)
- XBRL Portal (SEC)
- What an Accounting Professional Needs to Know (AICPA, PDF)
- What a Preparer of Financial Statements Needs to Know (AICPA, PDF)
- Audit and Control Implications of XBRL (CICA, PDF)