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Financial reporting with XBRL and its impact on the accounting profession

Wang, Zhenkun


Zhenkun Wang


Since 2010, XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) has been widely adopted throughout the world. In 2013, both the HMRC (Inland Revenue) and Companies House in the UK accepted XBRL in the iXBRL (inline XBRL) format. Investors have had to face various issues related to XBRL-reported financial information, such as accuracy and interpretability, as well as potential risks with respect to this new format of financial reporting. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of XBRL on the quality of financial reports and the accounting profession. For this study, a quality index evaluation model was built to examine the quality of financial reports. Over a thousand XBRL and non-XBRL formatted financial reports from three typical XBRL-adopting regions were then evaluated. This study finds that some of the contextual and accessibility qualities of financial reports have been greatly improved after using the XBRL format. However, the issue of accuracy has become more visible in current XBRL filings, due to the smaller and less comprehensive quantity of data stored in such filing systems. Using quality index scoring system, the trained professionals participating in this study confirm that XBRL-formatted financial reports demonstrate a greatly improved searching efficiency. Moreover, these reports generally display a quality superior to non-XBRL formatted financial reports under the designed quality index. More importantly, the quality of XBRL-formatted financial reports uploaded in the same database has been improving year by year. XBRL has not directly affected the accounting profession, being that most companies have outsourced the preparation of XBRL reports. However, it should additionally be noted that the questionnaires and interviews conducted with accountants in XBRL-adopting companies also reveal that these professionals feel increasing pressure both to prepare and to utilise XBRL-formatted financial information internally.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 16, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords XBRL; Financial Reporting; Accounting Profession;
Public URL
Contract Date Oct 16, 2015
Award Date 2015-01


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