I knew SEC Chairman Cox was a big fan of the data-tagging language XBRL, but I didn't think he would grab the ball and launch an offensive that seemed like the SEC's version of a 2-minute drill. In quick succession, Cox announced a $54 million investment to update the commission's EDGAR financial statement filing system to XBRLthis morning, followed by an announcement of an SEC roundtable on ”interactive data"—Cox's code phrase for XBRL—to be held next Tuesday, October 3.
The two announcements came on the heels of news that the SEC's small business roundtable slated for this Friday, September 29, will focus, in part on, what else, interactive data.
This triple threat from Cox seems like a clear indication that companies will have to be XBRL compliant within a year, since Cox said this morning that the SEC's coding, taxonomy, and technology efforts will be done within a year. Cox reiterated that it was premature to talk about mandating companies to file their financial statements using XBRL, but what are CFOs supposed to think?
There's a pilot program on to prove that the cost of converting is relatively low. Every chance he gets, Chairman Cox hints at the four-letter acronym. All current EDGAR filings will be switched over to XBRL inside of a year, and more telling, the SEC website will be peppered with XBRL software tools to help investors and analysts use the data "in interesting ways," says Cox. The chairman even noted this morning that developers should begin to "exploit" XBRL's potential by writing whiz-bang software and tools for companies, investors, and analysts.
I guess today was sort of a two-minute warning. The end of EDGAR is near. Cue the fat lady.