Consistency + Change = Opportunity

Posted Friday, April 1

By David Tauriello, Vice President of Operations, XBRL US

“… consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds … “

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Emerson suggested, consistency in thought can limit imagination and innovation – consistency in data is a different story altogether.

In the last six months, the global financial data environment has seen an abundance of change around data availability and accessibility – from the requirement of elements for auditor details in SEC reports, to the release of a decade of machine-readable historical public utility financial data published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  In global markets, annual reports filed with European regulators (ESEF) in machine-readable format are reaching critical mass.

XBRL US has geared up for these changes – updating applications and data resources to consistently create new ways to explore and understand opportunities and responsibilities emerging with standardized data. Some of the significant changes include:

  • Ten years of history and ongoing updates of newly filed public utility data reported to FERC is now captured alongside SEC data in the XBRL US Public Filings Database, so users can work with these resources side-by-side. The consistent structure of XBRL allows data to be commingled in the Public Filings Database, shared and inventoried in the same fashion, enabling analysis on correlations between datasets. This will become even more useful when new datasets like corporate ESG data are available in XBRL and can be analyzed with financial performance metrics.

  • The free Google Sheets Add-on was re-written to have consistent format and functionality of its Excel counterpart. Get and use XBRL Filed Data in either spreadsheet application from the XBRL Data Community page, to find and filter facts and other data in the database by concept, period, report, company and more. Templates using the custom function for querying have been refreshed, and users of the extension can get SEC and FERC reports, or even the newly-included auditor details in the most recent quarterly and annual SEC filings.

  • The latest FERC business rules have been added to these spreadsheet extensions on the “Validate” tab, so filers with either regulator can use XBRL Filed Data get feedback on potential errors in their FERC forms (before they’re submitted to the regulator) in the cells of a spreadsheet.

  • A set of Data Quality Committee (DQC) validations that also work with ESEF filings is also available in the spreadsheet extensions, and on the DQC’s page for checking filings, so filers complying with the European Securities Markets Authority requirements can begin to understand how to improve the consistency of the data they report.  In the future, these annual reports will be available in the Public Filings Database (and via the XBRL API), as yet another consistent, commingled resource.

Consistency makes re-use possible, and new applications of the same standard create new opportunities when the data landscape changes.

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