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Study of the CFA Institute on the role of data and technology in transforming financial reporting

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Jun 15, 2016

On June 15, 2016, the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals, published "Data and Technology: Transforming the Financial Information Landscape." The study examines the current financial reporting process, assesses the inefficiencies in the system, and determines the ways that data, data analytics, and technology could potentially improve or even transform that process.

The study begins by pointing out that the current system presumes that information is consumed by humans, therefore machine-readable formats are often neglected or viewed as secondary. However, the study concludes that the use of data and technology can result in a more effective and efficient overall financial reporting process in which users at every level receive more transparent, better-quality information on a timely basis. The three levels the study identifies are companies, auditors and investors.

  • Companies. Using standardized data from very early on in the process (and not only at the regulatory filing stage) would enable companies to use applications that are able to pull information from different data sources to write automated reports, which will streamline current labor-intensive processes.
  • Auditors. Structuring data early in the process would also allow auditors to use audit data analytics to make the audit more efficient and potentially provide users with a better quality and greater granularity of financial information with greater reporting frequency and possibly a higher level of assurance.
  • Investors. Structured quantitative data not bounded by the document in which the information is contained would give investors the possibility to apply current technology to sift through data and analyse the numbers in a faster and more comprehensive manner.

However, the study also notes that to achieve these changes, regulators need to improve access to and searchability of information within the regulator’s primary source documents.

Review the full study on the CFA Institute's website.

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