eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is the emerging international standard for filing and analyzing financial information. The technology is designed to make it easier for investors, analysts and others to access and analyze the financial data related to securities.
Public companies can use XBRL to file quarterly financial information. Using XBRL can increase the speed of handling financial data, reduce errors and simplify data analysis. In turn, investors could benefit from more transparent disclosure of financial information and improved access to more manageable information, rather than having to wade through a mass of data and documents.
The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has established a program to allow issuers to voluntarily file their financial statements in XBRL format on SEDAR. The XBRL Filing section of the CSA website provides information about the voluntary XBRL program.
XBRL requires financial data to be created only once. This allows for an easy exchange of information between applications and over the Internet and customized analysis for analysts and investors.
Using XBRL, an information preparer assigns tags to individual financial statement items, such as "revenue", allowing the information to be processed automatically in various ways for different users.
XBRL compatible software is needed to create XBRL documents and to read and analyze data.
CSA XBRL Voluntary Filing ProgramThe CSA's XBRL voluntary filing program was launched in May 2007. This was an important first step to begin educating investors, reporting issuers and decision-makers about the advantages of a technology that is being adopted around the world. The voluntary program will help the CSA test and assess the usefulness of XBRL as it considers whether to make filing in the XBRL format mandatory.
Currently, voluntary XBRL filings are considered supplementary filings because issuers must continue to file their financial statements in PDF format as required by securities legislation.
XBRL financial statements are available on SEDAR. For a list of XBRL financial statements, search SEDAR under the "Financial Statements - XBRL" document type.
You can email questions about participating in the CSA's voluntary program to email@example.com. Feedback on how to improve the voluntary program should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEC IssuersThe U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued final rules that require companies filing with the SEC, including Canadian inter-listed companies, to provide periodic financial statement information in XBRL format. This filing requirement begins for fiscal periods ending on or after June 15, 2009 for larger companies and will be phased in during 2010 and 2011 for all other SEC reporting companies. Under the new rules, tagging will be required for financial statements, notes and financial schedules. Each company will also be required to provide the same information on its corporate website that it files with the SEC. The new requirements do not eliminate or alter existing requirements for filing financial information with the SEC.
The SEC will also require mutual fund companies to provide information using the XBRL filing format about a fund's investment objectives and strategies, costs, risks and past performance. Compliance by mutual funds will be required commencing on January 1, 2011.
For more information:
- CSA Notice 52-314 Securities Regulators Want Your Feedback on XBRL
- CSA Notice 51-323 XBRL Filing Program and Request for Volunteers
- CSA Website: XBRL Filing