TechTalk Blog - Need for Digital Assurance Services Grow As Structured Data (XBRL) Gains Momentum by Both Capital Markets & Governments For Better Decision Making

By David Colgren posted 06-27-2018 12:57 PM

  

More than 2/3 of the world’s capital markets are using the IMA supported XBRL global structured data format for both financial and nonfinancial disclosures. More than 100 regulators in more than 70 countries have mandated the use of XBRL for financial and business reporting which includes financial, tax or government data used to drive both the capital markets and government services. As regulators, investors, companies, government and analysts increasingly use XBRL data for their analyses the market need for digital assurance of the specific reported data elements using XBRL will increase – especially as data is separated from original disclosure documents and mashed into new reports and data analytic surveys.

Major search engines like GOOGLE are using structured data (XBRL is a version of structured data created by the accounting and auditing for business and financial data reported on the Internet) to better locate and process information:

“Structured data use is increasing and is in approximately one-third of the commonly crawled web now and clicks increased by 43 percent using the structured data format. That’s because big brands tested the waters with their development time and resources and were able to tie results back to business value, like improving traffic or generating conversions.“ Brands like Google, Alexa, Amazon and Siri are reading and understanding their content efficiently and effectively using structured data from various industries for search engine optimization and data analytics.

SO WHY NOT MOVE STRUCTURED DATA TO MAINSTREAM ACCOUNTING, TAX, AUDITING AND BUSINESS INFORMATION? -- moving the use of structured data beyond what public companies are disclosing to the capital markets on the Internet to other business areas in the world of management accounting? How can the management accounting profession become more relevant as we continue to move into the digital age? Structured data and the services rendered could be some of those areas -- especially as the need for data tagging of documents contained with blockchain will increase in the marketplace.

Today XBRL is the “Structured data” format used by the accounting and audit profession worldwide and standard setting bodies like FASB, and IASB. They have create XBRL structured data format that entities can use to get accurate information using the Internet to external parties for better data analytics… Like shifting billions of investment dollars to entities that are providing productive ventures to promote the public benefit – CAPITAL MARKETS OPTIMIZATION using GOOD, QUALITY DATA FOR INVESTMENT DECISIONS IN A MACHINE-READABLE STRUCTURED DATA FORMAT. Critical to democratic forms of government are transparent and accountable information (data) for BETTER GOVERNMENT. XBRL can play a role in making this financial and business data more transparent, searchable and accountable for these decisions. What about government reporting like GASB, FASAB, IPSASB and other accounting standards?

Consequently, as structured data enhances the need for reporters to control the quality of the digital disclosure of financial and non-financial information the need for digital assurance services will grow to provide that independent third-party endorsement of this data– just liked audit reports used by companies today in paper move to XBRL GLOBAL DIGITAL FORMAT…

Unfortunately, the transition between assurance of paper audited reports and digital tagging data elements using structured data formats like XBRL has not happened in the marketplace and new audit and accounting professional standards ARE NEEDED AS WE ENTER INTO THE DIGITAL AGE…

Management accountants can play an important role in offering new services related to digital assurances of XBRL structured data tagged documents as the demand for structured data expands into other asset classes beyond public company disclosures such as Standard Business Reporting and the use of structured data contained in  XBRL Blockchain for derivatives, mortgages, municipal bond marketplace, tax, insurance, financial data contained in health/medical reporting for example…

PLEASE NOTE: WE ARE IN THE BEGINNING STAGES OF USING STRUCTURED DATA IN THE WORLD OF ACCOUNTING, TAX, AUDIT AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE. Right now -- the most important documents used by the capital markets -- financial statements have been put into a structured data format using XBRL but the opportunity exists to move to other asset classes and many other countries have.

In Europe the European Securities Market Authority (ESMA) is in the process of creating the European Financial Transparency Gateway using XBRL for all 28 European Countries to house the more than 6,000 public company financial statements using XBRL and efforts are now underway to expand disclosures that can be used on this Financial Transparency Gates to include other assets classes. The US SEC has its EDGAR System which also includes XBRL structured data for public company disclosures but XBRL can be used by other asset classes and also put on this Internet Public Access Gateway... Why not the $3.5 trillion municipal bond marketplace using the EMMA system?    

The market potential is very significant! Can management accountants move into these new areas of FinTech, RegTech, Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers, Smart Contracts and the need for structured data services and data assurance grows in the marketplace? 

Currently – in the Netherlands – XBRL data assurance services have been mandated by the government because in the Netherlands – Standard Business Reporting is being used by the business community… One Report is issued to the government and data from this report that is structured in XBRL is shared across all government entities to REDUCE REGULATORY REPORTING BURDEN.

One can only imagine what a STANDARD BUSINESS REPORT could do to reduce REGULATORY REPORTING BURDENS by companies in the USA to government agencies. In New York City for example a restaurant has to file 13 separate business reports to 13 separate agencies in the city to operate the business. Why not one digital report using one structured digital data standard from the restaurant to send to all the agencies? Why separate reports send slightly different data to different agencies? Could this not be standardized and shared using structured data with digital assurance applied to the data to authenticate? Could management accountants be involved in this process and create new lines of business in all sorts of business areas?

As you can see from the article above – structured data is used by more than one-third of the data now on the Internet – can this transition happen in the world of accounting, audit, tax, and business information and as this data is transitioned into structured data can digital assurance be provided as this data is separated and used in various business models created by the investment community? 

Interesting press release on digital assurance and its relationship to continuous reporting.  Digital assurance is the process of getting the right data to the right people at the right time verified by an independent third-party. Digital assurance benefits business through the use of information risk management, trust management, resilience, appropriate architecture, system safety, and security, which increases the utility of information to authorized users and reduces the utility of data to those in the disclosure supply chain to drive better decisions.

In September 2017 -- The IMA in partnership with COSO issued the following white paper on “Leveraging the COSO Internal Control—Integrated Framework to Improve Confidence in Sustainability Performance Data.” The Framework discussed in the paper focuses on internal controls organizations can establish as the first step toward digital assurance that can be applied to disclosed data. Internal controls have value beyond compliance and external financial reporting. Effective internal controls can help organizations grow on a sustained basis, with confidence and integrity in all types of data disclosed to external audiences. The framework can be used by organizations to improve confidence in disclosed performance data to help move the reporting ecosystem further along in the journey toward better utilizing, assuring, and communicating this type of data—with an emphasis on professional judgment and stakeholder learning.  The bigger picture and context is to do our part to improve organizational capability, better satisfy investor needs, improve the effectiveness of capital markets, and, ultimately, serve the public interest.

SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT AND THE USE OF STRUCTURED DATA AND DATA ASSURANCE

Another area management accountants play a strategic role for management is in supply chain governance and compliance. E&Y issued the following white paper on “Digital supply chain: it’s all about that data” that presents the importance of data management and the increasing need for digital assurance of this data. As the white paper states:

“Competitors able to leverage machine learning to bolster their predictive analytics capabilities will do more, faster, with their data, driving increased supply chain productivity — and competitive advantage… Supply chains responding to changing customer needs in real time effectively transform products into “products-as-a-service” — a new digital business model.”

Critical to data intake by organizations managing their supply chains are both internal controls that have been established and digital assurances of the data entered into continuous business models for predictive strategies to meet customer needs.

Stay tuned as we report more information on digital assurance services and new mandated by regulators in this area.

 

 


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