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Rohman Helms Mission to Strengthen XBRL Data Quality

| July 13, 2017

Merrill Corporation has for a decade been instrumental in facilitating and promoting XBRL data reporting standards to allow for better and more efficient analysis of financial reports. In a testament to those efforts and its industry leadership, Lou Rohman, vice president of XBRL Services, was recently appointed chairman of the XBRL US Data Quality Committee (DQC).

Rohman Helms mission to strengthen XBRL Data Quality

Rohman takes the reins after serving in the vice chairman role for the past year, and as a committee member since its inception in 2015. The DQC is a market-driven consortium of companies and individuals committed to improving the quality of XBRL filed with the SEC. The committee has issued rules and guidance available free of charge that can be used by filers to detect XBRL errors prior to submitting regulatory documents.

Among the committee’s near-term challenges, Rohman said, is coaxing all filers to take advantage of the DQC rules to cut down on mistakes. “We’d like to get all filers to run the automated rules and use the guidance,” he said. Indeed, guidance is crucial as many of the more prevalent errors are made by filers who lack XBRL expertise and inappropriately structure and tag financial data, Rohman explained. “Let’s get every filer to prepare XBRL accurately, according to an agreed-upon set of rules and guidance, so that filers tag the same disclosures the same way. Consistency and accuracy are key.”

Merrill has been on the forefront of XBRL adoption since the mandate to provide structured data in reporting financial information was initiated in 2009. “We have always been committed to producing the highest quality XBRL for our clients,” Rohman said, while pointing out that Merrill’s XBRL team members have an average 15 years of accounting experience, with many previously working in public accounting as well as holding external financial reporting roles within companies. “They are not new to accounting and not new to XBRL,” he added, noting team members are active in industry groups, including the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Taxonomy Advisory Group, the Domain Steering Committee and Communications Steering Committee of XBRL US, the DQC and the US GAAP Taxonomy project team.

Respect for Rohman’s expertise has enabled him to foster collaboration among regulators, standard-setters, CPA firms, registrants and other stakeholders. International XBRL initiatives have also demanded his talents, including the IASB’s Taxonomy Consultative Group, XBRL International’s task force on entity specific disclosures, and numerous speaking engagements. Under his leadership, the DQC will remain actively engaged with the SEC, meeting regularly with the agency to provide updates on its activities as regulators continue their surveillance and commentary on XBRL data quality.

Certain relevant areas will now be a focus for the Data Quality Committee, as it develops rules and guidance to prevent or detect inconsistencies and errors in XBRL data. “The first topical disclosure area is the cash flow statement, followed by stock-based compensation,” Rohman said.

Among his aims as chairman, Rohman hopes to see stronger collaboration in the XBRL industry to make the data as consistent and high quality as possible. This will help filers properly comply with the SEC rules which, in turn, will drive consumption of XBRL data as its users attain the efficient and accurate analysis they desire.

”It’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years. I’ve been committed to getting XBRL right, and being named chair of the DQC is just a continuation of that,” Rohman added.

Read more about Accounting Today's recent article featuring Lou Rohman on XBRL data reporting.

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