Regulatory Filings Provide Untapped Data Resource

Terry Flanagan

Nimble companies are using technologies to ditch the decades-long processes in favor of more data-driven methods of collecting, reviewing and acting on information.

“Importance of proactive data strategy within the corporate executive suite has never been more critical than it is today,” said David Frankel, president of EDGAR Online (EDGR). “Business leaders are expected to be armed with in-depth analysis of their company’s operations and their competitive landscape in order to best propel growth and leadership.”

EDGR, which distributes company data and public filings for equities, mutual funds and other publicly traded assets, is helping traders, analysts, and risk officers uncover intelligence from financial disclosures.

EDGR has launched a partnership with software integration vendor Mashery to develop custom APIs (application program interfaces) to enable the creation and distribution of unique financial datasets.

“As a result of the work we are doing together to update and modernize our API infrastructure, we are essentially going to transform the U.S. financial disclosure into a platform for financial analytics developers,” said Frankel. “We will make it extremely easy for any developer, big or small, to access to the data and intelligence from financial disclosures they need to build innovative financial data analytics.”

The challenge is that the world of data is evolving rapidly. As consumption of data is quickly moving from the PC to the tablet and the smartphone, new technologies and innovations around data analytics are popping up from non-traditional places.

Filings are the basis for all research, noted Frankel. It could be as simple as having a PDF of the filing on a screen. “In the past, you would have to read the whole document to get the sections you needed to do research,” he said. “We’re looking at helping people build application directed at traders who will need sections of that filing. EDGAR Online has made strides in making our APIs flexible so they can access data in the new mobile applications.”

In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandated that all public companies disclose their financial statements using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), a standardized method for reporting financial and business data that allows for easier analysis and improved company comparisons.

“The SEC appears to recognize that one distinct advantage it enjoys over other regulators and law enforcement agencies is the mandatory financial data that public companies are required to report to the SEC in an XBRL format that lends itself to instantaneous slicing and dicing through computer-driven analysis,” according to a report by law firm King & Spalding.

Beyond the compliance mandate, however, enterprises have been missing a huge opportunity to leverage this rich data in areas of critical executive decision-making.

“Prior to the SEC mandate, it was often a difficult and laborious process for analysts and business leaders to review, analyze and compare granular data points across various companies and markets,” said Frankel. “Yet this data is critical for proper risk management, governance and compliance within the enterprise. By applying analysis to specific XBRL data concepts or tags associated with the financial disclosure, companies may best use the information to their advantage.”

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