LIVE UPDATE: XBRL US National Conference 2012: Day 1 Recap

Austin, TX:  Home to 6th Avenue, the live music capital of the world, and for two days…XBRL experts and enthused financial disclosure professionals from around the US.

The event focuses on both preparers (companies, full service providers) and consumers (government regulators, analysts) of XBRL by providing both best practice and technology updates relevant to the XBRL filing program at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Given the diverse topics covered, the best way to summarize is to simply dive right in.

NEWS OF THE DAY:  XBRL US and the AICPA have announced a US GAAP certification program for XBRL taggers.

KEYNOTE MYSTERY SOLVED:  All eyes were on the main stage to see who would actually be the opening keynote.  Not to disappoint, the SEC remained front and center with Susan Yount kicking things off with an effective, to-the-point keynote that let everyone know XBRL is alive and well (mostly…see data quality concerns below). With 30 million data points now submitted to the SEC, Susan reminded attendees that yes, the SEC is using the data at various levels and yes, the SEC continues to be concerned about data quality in specific areas of the submissions.

Mike Starr, in his new private sector role, remained a keynote speaker and drew directly from his experience at the SEC to paint an XBRL landscape that blended the “here and now” around machine readable financial data (XBRL) with the “where the end game really is” (supply chain transformation and analyst empowerment)… with a little Stephen Covey thrown in for good measure.

DATA QUALITY CONCERNS:  The SEC made it clear that while generally happy with the way things are going with the interactive data filing program, there’s still room for improvement.  Specifically, companies need to continue to focus on three main areas:  Getting the signage of amounts correct, providing correct/complete calculation information, and ensuring that extension taxonomy elements are only used when necessary.

Shameless plug alert:  These are 3 key areas of focus for tomorrow’s last session of the conference titled XBRL Essentials:  Best Practice Guidance, a panel that yours truly is speaking on.

PREPARER MINDSET:  Review, control, efficiency, effectiveness and more control.  All common themes as companies from Time Warner and MetLife to URS and FHLBank of Cincinnati took the stage to talk about their implementations and current process around creating XBRL.

In just the morning sessions alone, the word “efficiency” was used 10 times as companies continue to strive to make their XBRL process more streamlined.  Also a recurring theme:  The continued pressure to bring XBRL tagging in-house (for those that currently use full service), and the need for the content and tagging to be together and not separate. Sounds like a job for Cadency Complete but I digress=).

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY: Be it helping companies review XBRL more efficiently, to database-level enablement of XBRL, to analytic software that changes the discussion from creating XBRL to consuming XBRL, technology continues to play a key role in enabling XBRL.

The days of stand-alone tagging applications are numbered as companies look for integrated solutions to increase control and decrease risk as it relates to the SEC filing process.  While creating XBRL continues to be front and center, a substantial amount of dialogue was dedicated to helping preparers understand the importance of data quality and comparability not only from a regulatory compliance standpoint but also from a data democratization standpoint.

Whew…quite the first day!  Day 2 promises to dive into even more detail focused on helping companies understand how to review XBRL information and incorporate Best Practices…so caffeine loading needed. See you back here in a few hours!