SEC’s New IDEA Will Let Investors Easily Access Data About Public Companies and Mutual Funds

Securities and Exchange Commission Head Christopher Cox has introduced IDEA, an interactive system that will let investors more easily access key financial data about mutual funds and public companies. IDEA, which stands for Interactive Data Electronic Applications, Is the successor to the SEC’s EDGAR database and will eventually replace the older system.

The majority of SEC filings currently can only be accessed through EDGAR and in government-prescribed forms. Investors that access the information have to sift through each form and re-keyboard the data.

IDEA will let investors collate information from thousands of companies so that they can immediately generate analysis and reports. The new structure will allow both investors and the SEC to be prepared for when information related to financial disclosures are available in interactive form. The SEC has formally proposed that US investment firms provide their financial information in interactive form. A separate proposal has been made to mutual funds about the information related to their public filings.

Interactive data depends on computer “tags” that work like bar codes, which can identify each individually labeled item included in a company’s financial disclosures. Investors, journalists, analysts, and financial intermediaries would be able to take data from thousands of companies and download, reorganize, and analyze the information. The interactive data filings can be accessed through IDEA later this year.

Investors will still be able to access EDGAR while the transition to IDEA takes place, and EDGAR users can avail of IDEA-like features that will be available through the older system. EDGAR will also continue to serve as an archive for older filings. SEC’s Office of Interactive Disclosure Director David Blazkowsky called the agency’s decision to cross the ‘data threshold’ exciting.

SEC’s big IDEA – put EDGAR out to pasture and modernize, InvestmentNews.com, August 25, 2008
Spotlight On: Interactive Data Electronic Applications (IDEA), SEC
EDGAR, SEC
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