The Securities and Exchange Commission
has released its latest review of interactive
data financial statement submissions and
found that filers are making progress.
The SEC’s Division of Risk, Strategy and
Financial Innovations found that the filings
indicate that filers are devoting “significant
effort to understand their responsibilities un-
der this program, comply with the new rules
and provide high-quality submissions.”
The SEC has begun mandating the use of
Extensible Business Reporting Language,
or XBRL, technology in filings by a growing
spectrum of public companies. XBRL pro-
vides an interactive data-tagging format that
allows investors to compare information
across companies and industries.
sec reviews interactive financials
The SEC staff reviewed filings for the second quarter of calendar year 2011, which include the first submissions made by the third
phase-in group of filers, as well as the first
detailed tagged submissions of the second
phase-in group. They used data analysis tools
to survey the entire group of filings and data
points, and in some cases they targeted the
details of specific filings and tags.
However, the SEC said its staff has identi-
fied several areas where there were common
issues with the filings. For example, it is con-
tinuing to see similar issues that it identified
in previous reviews pertaining to the format-
ting of the financial statements, negative val-
ues, use of unnecessary extensions, and the
completeness of the tagging, specifically with
parentheticals and string values.
improvements, with more attention paid to
When Raich Ende Malter & Co. merged
with a firm that had partners over the age of
60, Boudreaux said she heard a lot of grumbling about going paperless.
“They said, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to do that,’”
she recalled. “They were waiting it out until
they actually retired, doing it their way.”
The firm found it helpful to initiate a men-
torship program, in which a junior employee
would assist those at higher levels with digi-
“If a senior person didn’t know how to do
something, they would call that person and
they would run into their office to show them
how to do that,” she explained. “It worked for
a handful of people; they liked that they had
someone to beckon.”
Employees at every level should maintain
the same level of digital organization that they
would with paper files, she continued: “You
want nice, neat work papers, tabs, and cross-
references with pencil colors, and you want
the same thing when looking on the screen.
If it’s a piece of junk in appearance or a piece
of junk in document, I complain.”
busy season, we printed x number of pages’
— a big number jumps out at people. The
over- 40 crowd is not able to let go of printing.
The under- 30 crowd rarely prints.”
Blumer recommended that people with
dual monitors have a third one, to read off of
as a sort of surrogate printer. “We taught the
staff that when they need to print paper, they
‘print’ to the third screen, which is the length
of an 8.5-by-11-inch page.”
Digitally managing documents is more
complicated when staff works remotely, how-
ever. “It drives me crazy to print out a return,
spend 10 minutes in a meeting, then throw it
away,” Boudreaux said.
Until computer tablets become more common, many CPAs share her sentiment.
“We are in that transition, like when Henry
BREAKING BAD HABITS
Ford made the Model T,” explained LeBlanc.
“There are no roads yet, so it’s bumpy, a tran-
sition between a dirt road and Route 95.”
There are already a few tools to help fast-
track the conversion, according to Blumer.
He cites EchoSign and RightSignature, which
allow people to securely and digitally sign
LeBlanc found announcing the total number
of pages printed by the firm over a period of
time, like busy season, to be helpful in increasing awareness and encouraging older
employees to control their “print page” trigger fingers.
“We make people aware of how much
they’re printing,” he elaborated. “Saying, ‘This
Once progressive firms have curbed their
print count by embracing fresh tools and systems, new problems inevitably emerge.
Common among firms using cloud-based
document management systems is Internet
speed. Blumer & Associates, for example, had
to quadruple its bandwidth to keep things
Firms using local servers, on the other
hand, risk reaching storage capacity.
“The biggest thing firms can fall into is
running out of space on file servers,” said
LeBlanc, whose firm employs 165 people in
three offices. “It’s very easy for this to creep
up on you. We have a fairly large staff and
when you start adding large files by the doz-
ens each and every day, and if you do the
math, it’s eating up a lot of drive space in a
short amount of time.”
He advised firms to chart out their amount
of data storage during peak time periods.