Statement on Final Rule of Inline XBRL Filing of Tagged Data
June 28, 2018
I would like to join the Chairman in thanking the staff, particularly Anzhela Knyazeva, Hermine Wong, Mike Willis and Scott Bauguess from the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis; David Fredrickson and Mark Green from the Division of Corporation Finance; and John Foley, Michael Pawluk and Sara ten Siethoff from the Division of Investment Management. I would also like to thank Commissioner Piwowar for working with me to bring the proposal forward last year, and Chairman Clayton and my fellow Commissioners for moving forward with a vote on its adoption.
Today’s recommendation is about modernizing data collection at the Commission. Nine years ago, the Commission took an important first step by adopting rules that require operating companies, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) to submit data in eXtensible Business Reporting Language format—or “XBRL”—which is a form of structured data.[i] Structured data is human-readable information that has been converted to a format that a computer can read and understand.[ii] Structured data has become integral to how market participants access information. It has improved the transparency, the accessibility, and the quality of data. And it has started to transform the Commission’s reporting requirements from being focused on documents to being focused on data. It has also moved the Commission from manually reviewing documents to using computers to analyze data, often across registrants.[iii]
Today, we are considering the adoption of a requirement for operating companies to file financial statements and for mutual funds and ETFs to file risk/return summaries in an improved form of XBRL called “Inline XBRL.” Inline XBRL combines XBRL-tagged data and HTML data into one file. In short, it allows this file to be both human and machine readable. Ultimately, using Inline XBRL should be less burdensome for companies and funds, because it will eliminate the overlapping processes needed to produce two separate filings. The Inline XBRL format will bring disclosure data to life: computers will have the ability to parse the data in a timely manner, while humans can continue to view contextual discussions of that data within the same document.[iv]
By adopting the requirement for companies and funds to file using Inline XBRL, the Commission is taking another major technological step forward, and I am proud to support it. It also will help provide investors with meaningful and comprehensive disclosures in more accessible and useable formats so they have the information they need to make informed investment decisions.
The demand for information is enormous, and shifting to the Inline XBRL format makes it clear that the Commission will continue to facilitate the flow of disclosure information in a way that is both efficient and useful.[v] I am pleased to support the adoption of a rule that recognizes and adapts to the rapidly evolving technology in our marketplace. I hope the Commission keeps moving forward on the path of making data more accessible and usable, which ultimately should help make our markets more efficient, while improving capital formation and better protecting investors.
[i] Interactive Data to Improve Financial Reporting, 74 FR 6776 (Feb. 10, 2009); Interactive Data for Mutual Fund Risk/Return Summary, 74 FR 21255 (May 7, 2009).
[ii] What is Structured Data?, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (last viewed Jun. 22, 2018), available at https://www.sec.gov/structureddata/what-is-structured-data.
[iii] See Ami Beers, Beyond Compliance: The Benefits of XBRL, AICPA (Sep. 26, 2013), available at http://blog.aicpa.org/2013/09/beyond-compliance-the-benefits-of-xbrl.html#sthash.OFmPBPqh.dpbs.
[iv] See Inline XBRL: Bringing Data to Life…and More, idaciti (last viewed Jun. 21, 2018), available at https://blog.idaciti.com/inline-xbrl-bringing-data-to-life-and-more (explaining improvements in iXBRL).
[v] Release at 20 (“As of June 16, 2018, in the approximately eight months since the Commission began posting risk/return summary datasets (including approximately 33,130 unique page views), financial statement data sets had approximately 55,327 page views; financial statement and notes data sets had approximately 232,398 page views (including 194,623 unique page views), and risk/return summary data sets had approximately 2,089 page views (including approximately 1,791 unique page views)”).