I've got good news and bad news when it comes to XBRL.
First, the bad news. Those of you who have pulled the covers over your head and taken a wake-me-when-it's-over approach can forget it. XBRL is real, and it's here to stay.
In the United States alone, all public companies will be required to file their financial statements via XBRL by the end of the year, and really, we're scrambling to keep up with the rest of the world. There are major adoption initiatives under way in Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Japan, China, India, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, just to name a few. The U.S. has plenty of company.
Now, the good news. If you're a CPA, you don't need to know much about XBRL at all.
That's Conor O'Kelly's opinion, anyway, and he should know. He's vice chair of XBRL International.
“CPAs don't need to learn the technology, the semantics and the architecture behind (XBRL), but they do need to understand what it means for process enhancement and information,” O'Kelly said in a recent Skype interview, which came on the heels of a web-based presentation to students at Salisbury University. “The impacts are reasonably predictable: Lower cost of production; lower cost of access, use and analysis of data; more timely data; and more time available for analysis.”
Sounds great, but at the end of the day, what does that mean?
“I think CPAs are going to be spending less time on low-value, manual process debts and re-keying, and more time on developing high-value intellectual insights — cultivating their client relationships and maximizing their added value and their value propositions for their clients,” O'Kelly said.
Less time on stupid stuff and more time on serving clients, building relationships and being a trusted advisor? That should be music to everyone's ears.
Bring it on, XBRL.
Listen to my interview with O'Kelly in its entirety. Our CPA Spotlight podcasts are also available here or by searching for “CPA Spotlight” in iTunes.
Want to learn more?You'll hear the latest news from the XBRL front in these upcoming MACPA programs: