US takes the Lead in Digital Reporting over the Web

Securities and Exchange Commission SEC- Chairman Christopher Cox announced that, for the first time, the SEC s information about companies and mutual funds is now fully searchable online. Investors and analysts can now search the full text of every SEC document filed by companies within the last two years. They ll also be able to quickly and easily identify and retrieve mutual fund filings by fund or share class.

Chairman Cox who last year put his weight behind the importance of digital reporting made the announcement in his opening remarks at the SEC s ?Interactive Data Roundtable? in Washington, D.C. ?Interactive data?, Cox s term for digital reporting, holds the promise of transforming the static, paper-bound documents companies furnish to the SEC into dynamic financial reports that can be more quickly and easily accessed and analysed by users. ?This is a giant leap for America s 90 million investors toward tapping the full potential of the Internet to provide customized financial information,? said Chairman Cox. ?This new full-text search capability will give investors and analysts instant access to the specific information they want,? he said. XBRL, Extensible Business Reporting Language- which tags financial data according to a defined taxonomy dictionary- such as US-GAAP or IFRS is just one part of taking company data into the digital age. The latest announcement allowing for full text based searching as well has been well received by the software industry. Commenting on the SEC development, Mike Malwitz of Hyperion, the performance management software house told FSN, ?I see full text search as a hint of what s to come from the SEC - it s the first step toward a much more sophisticated querying capability that leverages XBRL. Cartesis, another leading performance management software house also welcomed the announcement. Commenting to FSN, Trevor Walker of Cartesis said, ?We believe this is a step in the right direction and we welcome the SEC s announcement which is further evidence that Mr. Cox is committed to greater transparency, access to information and the use of interactive data. It is good news for investors and investment analysts but is not and should not be limited to them.? Whilst supporting the announcement, Hyperion s Malwitz also underlined the need for more capability. He remarked, ?Full text search is roughly the equivalent of Google-ing the SECs website - and as with Google, the search results are only as good as the search criteria you input. Plus, the investors will need to sift through hundreds of potential documents to find what they are looking for - extracting the relevant details from each document manually into an off-line repository or even a word processing document or spreadsheet for further analysis. Contrast this to what a company called Edgar Online provides today: the ability to download financials, ratios, statistical accounts and even textual content for more automated analysis and benchmarking. We believe this is the direction the SEC is heading in and we are ready to help customers submit XBRL tagged documents to the SEC with our XBRL instance document creation feature as part of our Hyperion System 9 Financial Reporting module.? Walker also emphasised the need to leverage both XBRL and full text search. He told FSN, ?XBRL is the real engine behind the market need for comparability and benchmarking and will make this search capability much deeper and more robust. By leveraging XBRL and full text search, individuals and companies will be easily able to find and search both structured financial data and unstructured non financial data and to directly download and benchmark with this data without the need for tedious cut and paste.? The new company filing search engine enables real-time, full-text searches of filings on the entirety of the SEC s EDGAR Electronic Document, Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval- database of company filings for the last two years. The Commission is also asking users of this Web site feature to supply feedback, including suggestions for additional functions, so that further improvements to the site can be considered and implemented . However, there are no similar planned initiatives for text based searching on Companies House Data in the UK , which is limited in the services that it is allowed to offer under present company law. Paul Reynolds, Head of Corporate Affairs at Companies House told FSN ?Under the Companies Act, we are not allowed to ?add value to the information we receive from companies. Effectively we are limited to reproducing an exact image of the statutory forms we receive and preparing data in any other way could be construed as ?adding value . The limitations on our activities are there to prevent us having a monopoly on information and competing as a supplier with the information services industry.? Although, like the SEC, Companies House will accept information in XBRL format, Reynolds explained that the idea is to allow companies to submit information electronically, e-filing of accounts- if they wish and to help Companies House to streamline its processes of data capture and handling. It is not intended that information users will be able to request or query XBRL data. Source:>