Guest blog by Monica Banuelos.
Prologue: In the Beginning...
As an accountant, there’s something that just feels good about physically holding a reference book and flipping through its pages; oscillating between the table of contents and index to specific paragraphs while searching for relevant information on your topic; dog-earring the corner of a critical page that you know you will revert back to multiple times during your research; jotting down your key ideas in margins of the book’s pages or on a notepad for future reference. Old School. It gives you a sense of security; a physical and tangible visual reference of the data you collected, information you processed and a roadmap you developed while researching your topic.
That is, unless...you haven't heard of this thing called the Internet and how it can transform the way you work; exponentially increasing efficiency in nearly every aspect of financial reporting.
That was so last century...
Of course, I jest, but we all have a level of fondness and respect for all that is ‘Old School’. And, for many of us, some old-school methodologies and practices serve as part of the foundation of who we are - personally, professionally, academically, mentally. However, we know that as time goes by, technology will eventually improve the tools we use to do our jobs and we will also experience a change in the composition of the work force as old-school skill sets retire and younger, fearless, techno-savvy generations on-board into industry. And it has. Given today's technology, using the Internet to perform certain core responsibilities of financial reporting like disclosure research, peer comparison and market analysis can be termed an Old School practice. Though, it is hard to argue that something is old-school when there exist very few alternatives in the market that are efficient and available as a cost-effective solution.
As such, the Internet still remains a widely used research tool for most financial reporters when researching new SEC reporting requirements, searching for good examples of new financial statement footnote disclosures, performing peer analysis and doing market research for any internal reporting responsibilities. The Internet has done much to transform these respective processes and create a great deal of efficiency and cost savings for financial reporting.
But, let's be honest, combing through the search engine results for substantive examples of your required financial statement disclosure can take hours or even days to perform! Often we must input search criteria multiple times with varying descriptors in search of the optimal search term that will yield close to what we are looking for. We are not really free from the time intensive process of flipping through page after page of reference material. Then when we do find what we are looking for, we must duplicate the same Internet search if we want more than one example for comparison or analysis. Sounds kind of old-school for today's day and age. As good as it is, the Internet simply cannot group, analyze and present the search results of a single data set ran for multiple entities in a single instance report. And today, that is what a financial reporter needs in order to successfully meet the responsibilities of the role.
You Say You Want Some Evolution?
After almost 10 years of mandated XBRL reporting, we are ready to realize all of the benefits that this type of detail data can provide to us. We have seen the technology that exists out there and we really want it. We need it, actually, as the world evolves around us and we experience increasing pressure to be more efficient and savvy in parsing, analyzing and communicating financial information. The introduction of the smartphone and portable device demonstrated how quickly the power of technology can transform process efficiently and how easily new technology can be adopted - even by someone who is not typically tech-savvy (or is, maybe, old-school).
The bar has been raised for financial reporting. Old-School has some skills, increased confidence with technology and a building anticipation that is ready for the next evolution in financial reporting. Champions of XBRL reporting did a good job of selling us on the potential power of XBRL data to transform our capabilities of financial research and analysis. And, we're ready to start using it.
Well, it's here. I've seen it. And, it is mind-blowing!
...IN WITH THE NEW: Financial Disclosure Research Evolves
WOW! Is an understated reaction to the capabilities of idaciti, a financial data research and visualization platform, that puts the ability at your fingertips to quickly compile data from EDGAR and non-EDGAR filings, beyond that of XBRL data, including data contained in textual formats like SEC Comment Letters, Earnings Releases, MD&A disclosures and financial statement footnotes.
So, research and analysis of financial disclosures contained in filings to the SEC which once took hours to complete by the old-school research practice of performing an Internet search on the topic, and did not necessarily provide comfort that the data returned was comprehensive or accurate, can now be done in a matter of seconds with idaciti’s financial data software.
Think about how much time you could save and pain you could avoid in the near future with the hefty upcoming financial disclosure requirements for FASB’s new revenue recognition standard, ASC 606, and accounting for leases under ASU 2016-02 (Topic 842)! Yes, there are early adopters who have already filed some excellent examples of these new financial disclosure requirements. Wouldn't it be nice to have have the entire population of these examples at your fingertips in a matter of seconds? Well, you can.
One simple query in idaciti can give you information on financial disclosures, financial statement presentation AND any kind of financial analysis of respective data. Did I say ‘WOW!’ already?
Go from Old-School to So-Cool. Easy.