5 Reasons to download the SEC’s XBRL Data Sets

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made available for the first time complete data sets for all “as filed” XBRL data. The following is taken from the SEC’s accompanying announcement:

The following data sets provide information extracted from EX-101 attachments submitted to the Commission in a flattened data format to assist users in more easily consuming the data for analysis. The data is sourced from selected information found in the XBRL tagged financial statements submitted by filers to the Commission. These data sets currently include quarterly and annual numeric data appearing in the primary financial statements submitted by filers. Certain additional fields (e.g. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)) used in the Commission’s EDGAR system are also included to help in supporting the use of the data. The information has been taken directly from submissions created by each registrant, and the data is “as filed” by the registrant. The information will be updated quarterly. Data contained in documents filed after 5:30pm EST on the last business day of the quarter will be included in the next quarterly posting.In other words, the SEC has provided a quick and easy way to retrieve all relevant XBRL filed data pertaining to primary financial statements from 2009 onwards. This is important news for all companies filing XBRL data with the SEC because it makes several things you may be doing already much easier.

After Filing Activities Made Easier

Once a quarterly statement is filed, financial reporting teams undertake several tasks to ensure that the appropriate XBRL is being used. The tasks include examining peer company filings to compare XBRL treatments, looking at how other companies are reporting new accounting treatments, archiving your filings, creating a ready source of XBRL best practices, and providing data to the Investor Relations team for communicating financial results to investors.

Here’s how the new SEC XBRL data set can be useful in each scenario:

  1. Make it easier to discover XBRL treatments by other organizations, not only in your peer groups but across a broad spectrum of companies.


    With the entire set of XBRL filings readily available for research, a financial reporting team could quickly search across all XBRL filings to discover how financial concepts are being reported. Prior to having this data set available, financial reporting teams would have to search companies individually, by guessing the ones which would yield apt information.

  1. Quickly find examples of an accounting treatment you are considering.


    With a full data set at hand, financial reporting teams can sort the data by XBRL concept, yielding rich results in seconds. For example, if you are interested in researching ASC 605 Revenue Recognition, having the entire data set for the latest 10-Q filings gives you a wealth of information quickly at your disposal.

  1. Archive your XBRL more efficiently


    The efficiency of the SEC’s data sets cannot be underestimated. Your XBRL filing as well as all other filings have already been converted into a tab-delimited TXT file format and divided into four data sets to facilitate analysis. The four data sets are:

  • SUB – Submission data set; this includes one record for each XBRL submission. The set includes fields of information pertinent to the submission and the filing entity. Information is extracted from the SEC’s EDGAR system and the filings submitted to the SEC by registrants.
  • NUM – Number data set; this includes one row for each distinct amount from each submission included in the SUB data set. The Number data set includes all line item values for every submission and for each primary financial statement as it is rendered by the SEC Viewer/Previewer.
  • TAG – Tag data set; includes defining information about each tag. Information includes tag descriptions (documentation labels), taxonomy version information and other tag attributes.
  • PRE – Presentation data set; this provides information about how the tags and numbers were presented in the primary financial statements.

Each data set provides a unique view of the data and can be used to answer specific questions such as who has used a specific XBRL tag (TAG) or how has revenue recognition been presented (PRE).

  1. Quickly assemble best practices for XBRL


    Utilizing the TAG data set and the PRE data set, the financial reporting team can quickly find the XBRL treatment coupled with the presentation utilized for each key concept being reported. This method will help teams rapidly discover best practices, allowing the team to stay abreast of developing activities.

  1. Provide a feed to Investor Relations for external reporting


    Investor Relations will be interested to receive XBRL data in a friendly data format so they can continue to process the information into investor accessible formats for distribution. The new XBRL data set will accommodate this activity easily.

Software Solutions for XBRL Data

According to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s XBRL Advocate Mike Willis, there are many applications that consume the current web-service/RSS data feeds including applications like: Arelle; Calcbench, XBRLAnalyst, XBRL US Consistency Suite, SECforhumans, to name a few. Many of these applications are already set up for analysis and some require a fee for usage.

Willis also points out that the newly available data sets are in tab-delimited TXT file format so almost any application can be used to create your own analysis such as Microsoft’s Excel. However, to create your own tool within Excel requires one to navigate through the formatting. Financial reporting team members with advanced Excel skills will have no difficulty assembling a time-saving tool that will contribute significantly to your XBRL activities.

DataTracks US is part of DataTracks Services Limited, leaders worldwide in preparation of financial statements in EDGAR HTML, XBRL and iXBRL formats for filing with regulators. With a track record of over 10 years, DataTracks prepares more than 12,000 XBRL statements annually for filing with regulators such as SEC in the United States, HMRC in the United Kingdom, Revenue in Ireland, ACRA in Singapore and MCA in India.

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