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FINAL UPDATE – XBRL US National Conference 2012: Day 2 Recap

While the Chuggin’ Monkey and Dizzy Rooster did their part to fill conference attendees’ heads with songs in the key of X, Day 2 focused primarily on discussing topics related to preparers and the end-game focus of high-quality, best practice-driven XBRL submissions to the SEC.  Key take-aways from the day included the following:

SWEAT THE DETAILS:  Being active and engaged in the XBRL review process is one thing.  Understanding all the moving and required parts of the review itself is another.  Much attention was given to helping companies “see beneath the content” and better understand the various aspects of an XBRL submission that need to be reviewed.  “Feel good” reviews comparing the XBRL to the HTML need to be supplemented with a detailed and thorough (dare I say Complete…=) review of the signage/calculation structure of the XBRL as well as the information contained in the extension taxonomy.  Companies that currently place the primary review responsibility on external service providers with little to no direct activity need to change the model immediately to bring a large portion of the review process in-house.  Now is a really good time to sweat the details around an XBRL submission.

RAISE YOUR HAND:  While the level of XBRL understanding in the market is miles higher from where it was at the start of the mandate 3 years back, now is not the time to rest on laurels.  Whether it’s a question related to a specific rule of the EDGAR Filer Manual or help needed on understanding when to create calculation structure information vs. not, companies are bound to have a question or two.  Simple rule:  When in doubt, raise your hand, and know that there are no dumb questions when it comes to XBRL.  Software vendors, major accounting firms, service providers, XBRL US, and of course the SEC are available to help get the answers companies need.

ENGAGE FASB:  Continued concern and attention is placed on a company’s extension tags.  While important for a company to ensure that they document and justify why their extension tags are needed, there’s an easy (and oft overlooked) way to help reduce extension tags over time:  Engage FASB.  The premise is simple:  Companies that make FASB aware of why a given extension tag is needed could end up seeing it appear as a US GAAP tag in the next release; companies that don’t, won’t.  Louis Matherne, FASB’s head XBRL taxonomy geek (unofficial title), was strong in his commitment to review and consider each and every taxonomy comment provided to FASB as part of their new/updated taxonomy release process.  The  2013 US GAAP taxonomy is currently available for review with the comment period wrapping up on October 29, 2012.

DEDICATION:  While everyone in attendance took away at some level, new learning around XBRL, if miles traveled to attend the event count for something then a special shout-out to the team from AngloGold Ashanti that flew all the way from South Africa to attend the event.  Now that’s XBRL dedication!

Mission accomplished and nice job to XBRL US on pulling the conference together! Looking to the future, the topics discussed at the event will only continue to gain relevance as I’m pretty sure the SEC has a few things up their sleeves as they look to refine and evolve their XBRL filing program.  Of course with evolution like this comes continued pressure on the already-fragile financial disclosure process, putting more focus and attention on integrated record-to-report solutions.

Plenty of topics to discuss in future posts but up next will be a focus on what happens when best practices go wrong!