By Gary Simon, CEO FSN Publishing Limited and Leader of the Modern Finance Forum on LinkedIn
Document production has never sat easily with corporate finance functions. Most finance functions’ skills and capabilities lie with the dependable production of the numbers for final reports, statutory disclosures and filings with high quality document production often outsourced to specialist design agencies and printers. But recent regulatory and technical changes present new challenges and opportunities for the way that statutory (and perhaps non-statutory reports) are produced and by whom.
One of the greatest challenges concerning reporting has the dislocation between what people see, the so called, ‘presentation layer’ (often rendered in HTML) and what is contained in the underlying XBRL code. iXBRL merges the two together, embedding the XBRL information within the HTML allowing the documents to be easily readable by both humans and machines.
But what if these two elements can actually be produced synchronously using the same tool. Is it possible to produce good quality documentation as part of the same process as configuring the numbers?
This is the innovative thinking behind Certent’s HD (High-Definition) Electronic Reporting. It enables companies to combine the high-quality presentation-style reports that people prefer, with the digital XBRL data that regulators require, into one accessible web experience.
The key to Certent’s innovation in this area is two-fold: the data management and all of the associated workflows are fully integrated at the presentation layer, and a new digital reporting engine creates a pixel-perfect representation of a company’s report in HTML. In this way, users have the certainty, integrity and control of the underlying tagged data, but complete freedom in the way the information is presented in the report outputs and the way their story is told to the outside world.
The implications of this development are profound and could change the dynamics of external reporting as well as the relationships that exist between large corporate filers and their design houses. Currently, the final statutory reports and accounts are commonly designed and produced using well established creative software such as Adobe InDesign and it is unlikely that the largest listed entities would move away from that environment in the short term. In addition, design agencies provide significant design advice, that would be difficult (and perhaps not desirable) to replicate in-house and it is also doubtful that HD Reporting would be a complete substitute for the creative capabilities of Adobe InDesign. However, some could be tempted by the potential economic benefits of bringing report design and production in-house.
But that still leaves a whole raft of mid-market enterprises that could leverage the simpler environment of HD reporting to furnish their iXBRL filings and reports. Furthermore, irrespective of size, a bi-product Certent’s HD development is that even without an iXBRL requirement, the tool can be used for HD report production and publication using other data sets that reside in the Certent environment. A great example is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting which is highly stylized and contains data from different business units across an organization. In this way, the finance function can leverage a high level of control and governance over untagged data, workflows and collaboration and yet benefit from the freedom to present reports as desired for a broader set of internal and external reporting.
Certent’s HD reporting gives corporate filers the opportunity to re-think their reporting processes. It’s a complex picture and there isn’t a ‘one sized-fits-all’ solution. Join us in a wide-reaching discussion to explore the potential of HD Reporting at our upcoming webinar on 3rd December. You can register here.