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SEC's Window to Figure out How to Tag Data has Shut

In an interview with Craig M. Lewis, SEC Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation, the following statement was made:

The SEC was really just allowing firms to have a window to figure out how to tag data. Now that the window has shut, we are just going to start to use the data.

This is a fairly good clue that the SEC is going to clamp down on quality.

There are many other clues.  The interview with Craig Lewis is enlightening in many ways.  I feel this is the most practical look into how the SEC views the evolution toward digital financial reporting. Both software vendors creating software and filers don't want to miss reading the answer to this interview question:

How can companies be sure their XBRL filings are not automatically flagged in the monitoring system you are developing?

I would say, check your work. If you make a mistake in how you record an element, that would affect the score you get from the model and might make you more likely to be pulled up for a review-I would argue, correctly so. The model will tell the reviewer which factor was contributing to the score, and if one factor comes out and has a large impact on the score and can be traced back to a recording error in the XBRL data, you will be flagged because you made a mistake in providing us your XBRL data. I do not view that as a problem.

Software vendors who can keep SEC filers off the "radar" will likely be preferred to those who put filers on that radar.

I would encourage everyone to read the entire article, it is packed with information.  But I will point out one additional important statement.  Note the following comment relating to "two separate documents" (i.e. the desire for one document): 

My view is that the real solution to this is inline XBRL: creating a document where the tags are embedded directly into your filing so that you do not have to have two separate documents. This seems to be where the industry is moving, and I fully support that.

While Mr. Lewis' statements may not be what the SEC is thinking, it does offer clues into where SEC filings are headed.

Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 07:00AM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment

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