The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and XBRL US have collaborated to create an XBRL certification program for accountants and preparers who are working with XBRL. The 30-hour online course is intended for public company accountants, external accountants who work with public companies, consultants, and service providers to give them some basic training in working in XBRL.
“This is intended to help our members in business and industry who are doing actual filings, as well as those in public practice who might be asked to provide XBRL services,” said Ami Beers, senior technical manager of XBRL and business reporting for the AICPA. She said XBRL US and the AICPA decided on an online format for the course to meet the needs of those taking the course but also to facilitate a hands-on approach. “This market has a lot of time pressures, and there’s not a lot of extra time to leave the office and go to outside training,” she said. “It’s also very hands on, so they can get the look and feel of what they would be doing in preparing XBRL filings.”
Content for the course was developed by XBRL US, the AICPA, and the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which maintains the U.S. GAAP Taxonomy, with additional input from accounting firms and XBRL service providers. The course content will focus on the basics of XBRL and the U.S. GAAP Taxonomy as well as detailed footnote tagging.
The AICPA and XBRL US said research among its members suggests there is a clear market demand for online training, especially among preparers of financial statements who are still learning the ropes of XBRL. “When we did our surveys among both memberships to see if this is something that would interest them, we got an overwhelming response that people really needed this type of information and education,” said Beers.
XBRL International has developed a similar certification program that covers a broad range of topics from an international perspective. XBRL International describes the program as an intensive training and exam process meant to prepare stakeholders at all levels to understand the implications of using XBRL to meet business objectives. “The content (for the U.S. certification) is completely different from the international content,” said Beers. “This will go into more detail in tagging financial statements and how to tag using the GAAP taxonomy.”
Given how new XBRL still is, Beers said she is hopeful accountants and preparers will take advantage of the program to continue to improve the quality of XBRL submissions. “We keep hearing about data quality from the Securities and Exchange Commission and that there are errors occurring in the filings,” she said. “Education will help that.”
Those who participate in the U.S. certification program will be eligible for continuing professional education credits. The program is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2013.