How XBRL web services impacts investors and financial analysts

Enhanced information sharing between companies and financial-market participants is crucial. Investors and financial analysts are looking for more efficient access to company financial data so that faster, more accurate and more robust analysis is possible for better, more informed decisions. By offering reports to the markets via XBRL web services, companies make currently reported information readily accessible and re-usable, and therefore more relevant, to these stakeholders.

XBRL enables company managers to tell their own story to investors and other market stakeholders, precisely and clearly, without concerns that their messages will only be read through third-party filters, such as information distributors or aggregators. Time constraints and huge information volumes have caused market participants to become increasingly reliant on vendors who provide company information in a more easily re-usable format for analytical software. This means that stock prices may be determined with key influencers never having incorporated information directly from the company into an analysis.

Communicating through the XBRL Web services format enables information consumers in the marketplace to receive the full picture, every piece of information as company managers have tagged it. Once tagged, the information also becomes more re-usable as it can be directly placed into XBRL Web services enabled analytical software. Companies can also tie information in XBRL Web services enabled reports to other useful resources, such as a press release for external users, and company policy or accounting guidance for internal users.

Benefits of XBRL web services deployment

  • Today’s corporate reporting standards are no longer locked into specific locations within paper documents or electronic versions of paper documents.
  • Investors can quickly and easily discover and select the facts about a business and immediately begin analysis as every piece of information in a report, including text, stands on its own, as well as in context with related information.
  • Market stakeholders will likely have more confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the information companies produce via an XBRL web services automated environment, rather than through manual processes.
  • Management gains greater influence over valuations as information and messages are tagged for immediate investor access and re-use.
  • Companies can gain access to key benchmarking information and assess standing against peers in terms of industry-specific metrics via timely consolidations from regulators and industry organisations with XBRL web services enabled analytical tools.

Who's using XBRL?

YOU. XBRL web services capabilities are available in the software versions in Microsoft Excel 2003.

Case study

To show anyone who would like to see how profoundly XBRL web services improves business information exchange, PwC, Microsoft, and NASDAQ collaborated on a XBRL web services demonstration. This pilot shows how information from XBRL enabled financial reports for 21 companies for any period in the last five years can be selected and delivered instantly via a Web Service, five companies at a time. Information is requested from, and delivered into, an Excel worksheet called Excel Investors Assistant, such that regular financial statement items appear right along with applicable footnotes as well as key financial ratios investors use to make decisions. All in seconds.

To learn more…

Balance sheet: Vol. 11 No. 3, "The challenge of XBRL: business reporting for the investor", August 2003 (184kb)

PwC banking & capital markets, The journal "XBRL: One standard many solutions" (413kb)