To address the market demand for training in Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, the American Institute of CPAs and XBRL US, the nonprofit consortium for XBRL business reporting standards in the U.S., have introduced an XBRL US GAAP Certificate Program.

The certificate program provides finance and accounting professionals with information and training in building XBRL-formatted financial statements by using software tools or working with service providers.

“Correctly tagging financial statements and other business information in XBRL format requires both knowledge of reporting standards and the ability to navigate and apply the appropriate XBRL taxonomy,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement. “Participants in the XBRL US GAAP Certificate program will receive the guidance they need to create and assure high quality US GAAP XBRL financials for market consumption and analysis.”

A survey of more than 1,000 members of the AICPA and XBRL US found market demand for the training provided in the certificate program, particularly among public company preparers. A 57 percent majority of those surveyed said they needed expert or advanced knowledge of XBRL, however only 28 percent said they currently possessed expert or advanced knowledge.

“The size and complexity of the US GAAP Taxonomy requires a greater understanding of XBRL and the taxonomy,” said XBRL US president and CEO Campbell Pryde. “The certificate program is designed to help filers get the training they need quickly and cost-effectively, and to give them a deeper understanding of best practice and how to apply it.”

Over 9,400 companies are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to submit quarterly XBRL files that include tags for the full set of financial statements including the detailed data in footnotes. The SEC initially allowed public companies a two-year grace period of limited liability on their XBRL formatted financials. However, limited liability expires for most public companies this year, meaning that the XBRL-formatted financials carry the same level of liability as the traditional paper filing.

According to the AICPA and XBRL US, participants in the XBRL US GAAP Certificate program will be able to demonstrate to the marketplace that they have a solid understanding of XBRL and how to work with the US GAAP taxonomy. The certificate program also provides access to tagging simulations, which will help participants apply the principles presented in each course using software widely available in the marketplace.

“Accuracy and integrity of financial information in the reports of public companies is important, regardless of whether the information is presented as a printed financial statement or in XBRL-tagged data,” said CFA Institute director of standards of practice Glenn Doggett. “The XBRL data produced today for SEC reporting is not as consistent or comparable as it could be.  We encourage appropriate training and establishment of best practices to support the production of XBRL data that can be more easily consumed by investors.”

The Certificate Program content was developed and reviewed by XBRL US, the AICPA, and XBRL US members including accounting firms and XBRL service providers.  The program consists of approximately 35 hours of online coursework.

Courses will cover understanding XBRL and the US GAAP taxonomy, reviewing and validating XBRL documents, creating the extension taxonomy and building the instance document, transitioning to a new release of the taxonomy, using the SEC Edgar Filer Manual, and creating individual financial statements. Other topics include detailed footnote tagging in 20-plus categories, including pensions, debt, acquisitions, leases, fair value measures, segments, tax, business combinations, commitments and contingencies and more. The program also provides tagging simulations for a hands-on learning experience focusing on practical application of the principles presented in the detailed footnote modules.

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