XBRL Subject of SEC Vote, New IBM Risk Reporting Plans

Lora Bentley

Remember when the Securities and Exchange Commission first proposed XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) as a standard for financial reporting? Opinions on the issue have covered the gamut -- from "It's the best thing for business" to "It's a complete waste of time and money." Wednesday, Dec. 17, the SEC is set to vote on requiring XBRL reporting.


According to Compliance Week, "the 500 largest public companies in the United States would begin including XBRL-tagged statements with their financial reports starting next spring, followed by other large accelerated filers in 2010, and all other registrants in 2011." The rule also allows 30-day grace periods for companies' first XBRL filings. In their second year of compliance, companies also must use XBRL tags on financial filing footnotes. Writer Melissa Klein Aguilar indicates that many subject companies are relieved that "auditor attestation is not required."


At the same time, IBM is promoting XBRL as a standard for reporting risk measurement, particularly in the financial sector. International Business Times reported Tuesday that the IBM Data Governance Council is spearheading the effort to provide a global framework for consistently measuring and reporting aggregate risk. Council chairman Steve Adler says:

Creating a risk taxonomy using XBRL will provide a vocabulary and a commonlanguage allowing everyone to understand what risk means, and that's thefirst step in making it easier to calculate and report. When we have semantic clarity around the way organizations describe risk, incidents, events, losses, claims, exposures, forecasts and reserves, it gets easier to aggregate loss information, analyze it with standard actuarial methods, compare past exposures to present conditions and opportunities, and forecast potential outcomes.

It will be interesting to watch if and how the standard evolves.

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