Why XBRL Data Matters for Investors, with Sandy Peters, head of Financial Reporting Policy
The cornerstone of capital markets and investment management activities is data. CFA Institute is interested in identifying the available technological levers investment professionals can use to optimise their research work, ultimately leading to investment decisions that depend on the quality and accessibility of this data. For this study, we focused on the digitalisation of issuer data, which started early in the 2010s.
Indeed, financial and nonfinancial information is digitalising across the globe, notably through a specific programming language, XBRL. This language was originally developed in the United States for the purpose of identifying and transmitting accounting and financial data. Since then, regulation has also been developed to clarify the taxonomy of this data framework and gradually facilitate its adoption. However, the deployment of technological solutions and the use of such digitalised data have varied among jurisdictions around the world.
This report draws on the results of a survey of CFA charterholders in France in March and April 2023. The research is a collaborative work between CFA Society France and CFA Institute. We would like to thank XBRL France, a member of the XBRL International consortium, for their active participation in our study.
Our goal was to ascertain the level of understanding of CFA Institute members regarding these technological and regulatory developments, including measuring their level of interest as part of their analytical work using financial and nonfinancial data.
Summary of Key Findings
- Fifty percent of respondents use data directly issued by corporate issuers.
- Fifty-seven percent of respondents systematically recalculate EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) using public data obtained directly from issuers.
- More than 80% of respondents agree that the digitalisation of source data will allow them to save time from quicker direct downloads of information (50%) and by eliminating the need to manually reinput and reprocess the data.
- A number of respondents believe that the digitalisation of data will allow them to increase their analytical productivity (19%) and improve the quality of their analytical work (16%).
- However, the lack of knowledge regarding this regulatory framework is hindering technological developments in the field of data analytics; 80% of respondents report having no or little understanding of this regulatory and technological evolution.
- Nonetheless, 40% claim they want to learn more by getting involved in a specific work group on the subject.
- Our survey therefore opens the door to potentially valuable joint work or projects associated with XBRL.