Corporate Finance & Governance | Legislative / Regulatory

XBRL: Quietly making noise

Xbrl_logoXBRL is coming. The technology that (if you believe the experts) will revolutionize the financial reporting process has been tagged to work with the entire system of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and is being released in draft form so that financial experts can test it and offer comments. After that, it's only a matter of time before companies are required to use XBRL to communicate their financials.

So why haven't more financial executives heard about it?

That's what Alix Stuart wants to know. In a article titled "XBRL: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You," Stuart says 66 percent of public-company CFOs are aware of XBRL, but "it’s hardly the stuff of water-cooler conversation. Even the intended beneficiaries of the new labeling method, Wall Street analysts, are fairly in the dark," writes Stuart. "A July poll of analysts and fund managers showed that only about 40 percent had any level of knowledge of XBRL, according to the CFA Institute."

They'd better start cramming, and quickly. Stuart quotes Dan Roberts, national director of assurance innovation at Grant Thornton and former chair of a U.S. steering committee on XBRL, as saying, "It’s my own bet that year-end 2008 results filings will be required to be filed in XBRL."

How much do you know about XBRL? What do you think of the new language?


Bill Sheridan