Lou Rohman, vice president of XBRL Services, Merrill Corporation | February 14, 2018
Recently I participated in a panel discussion that discussed one of the hot topics related to digital business reporting. The discussion was initiated by XBRL International, Inc. as part of a webinar series called the Members’ Forum. It brings to the forefront relevant topics that impact digital business reporting and the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) standard. The Members’ Forum consists of periodic webinars to address what’s on the minds of individuals involved in the future of corporate reporting.
The hot topic our panel discussed was how to convey the proper meaning of a financial disclosure that is specific to an entity, using a tagged digital-reporting format (not the traditional paper-based format). It’s easy to digitally convey the meaning of a common disclosure such as “Accounts Receivable”, since there is a standard tag that exists for that item, and that tag is part of a standard dictionary of tags. But what if an entity discloses in its annual report the “ratio of net debt to EBITDA excluding restructuring and other costs”? That’s uncommon, so a unique tag would need to be created for this item. And then the question is - how can this unique tag be digitally communicated so that its meaning is properly understood by the growing number of consumers that use automated processing to digest financial information. That’s what we discussed.
Much of that issue is being addressed by a task force of XBRL International called the Entity Specific Disclosure Task Force, of which I’m a member. The panel discussion at the webinar provided information about the task force’s findings and answered questions from attendees.
Previous Members’ Forum topic
Previously the Members’ Forum tackled the topic of standards and their significance in the global digitization of corporate reporting. The CEO of XBRL International, John Turner, presented “XBRL State of the Standard” and provided key information, including why regulators and companies will rely even more on the XBRL standard in the future.
Past topics have been very informative and I’m looking forward to future topics.
Visit the Events Page to catch what’s happening with the forum. XBRL International brings together regulators, standard setters, corporate filers, data consumers, service providers, auditors and more. That’s what creates a proper standard that fits the needs of business reporting.
And regarding any unique disclosures in annual reports, such as the “ratio of net debt to EBITDA excluding restructuring and other costs” that I mentioned above, keep informed; there actually is a way to digitally communicate them so their meaning is understood.