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Revolutionising Compliance and Reporting: Is It Finally a Data Reality?

Regulatory Reporting
Revolutionising Compliance and Reporting: Is it Finally a Data Reality?
4 min read

Liv Watson

Senior Advisor and Digitisation Lead
Published: 30 June 2020
Last Updated: 5 July 2022

There is a burning need to revolutionise data standards worldwide, in conjunction with the creation of a global taxonomy registry and an open taxonomy innovation platform. Those are the findings from a digital transformation thought leadership brief recently released by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA®). 

In Business Reporting in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is made clear that stakeholders depend on trustworthy, auditable, accessible and machine-readable information using open data standards (such as XBRL® tagging). The brief, which also incorporates in-depth research from Workiva, supports a sense of urgency for open data standards, taxonomies, digital delivery technologies and guidance that will enable more connected and intelligent reporting

With these advances in place, business leaders can ensure critical financial, non-financial and other emerging forms of external reporting (EER) are collectively accurate, auditable, complete, consistent and fit for purpose in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

About the research

During the past 18 months, Workiva conducted an in-depth study of regulated banking entities to better understand the challenges they face in the areas of risk, cost and resource management, efficiency, compliance and reporting. The research yielded results universally relevant to all industries.

The study involved the assessment of all major statutory reporting platforms, forms and the regulatory compliance ecosystem. The insights gleaned around compliance practice commonalities and recurring issues faced by entities across different sectors and geographies, highlighted new optimisation opportunities across the end-to-end compliance process to achieve a holistic and integrated outcome.

Findings of the research

The research uncovered the day-to-day challenges a regulated entity faces to satisfy regulatory reporting and disclosure requirements. The regulatory data ecosystem is fragmented at various levels and within numerous variables, including data formats, modes of submission, data definitions for certain common elements, business rules, access controls and validations for similar reporting elements across different forms and regulators.

The following snapshot illustrates a financial institution’s minimum scope of compliance:

UK Banking Sector Compliance Framework By The Numbers

Source: Institute of Management Accountants, A Digital Transformation Brief: Business Reporting in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Next steps

The three main recommendations emerging from the brief are as follows:

  • An urgent need for an open, integrated and holistic compliance model that will benefit all stakeholders in streamlining the compliance and reporting function, and facilitate access to timely actionable data to make informed decisions.
  • Ensuring standard setters and framework developers are committed to the repository as the authority of digital taxonomies for industry bodies of knowledge and best practices around reporting and compliance.
  • Producing a high-level solution blueprint for implementing a global digital framework within products. Using an understanding of the regulatory ecosystem and purpose with an objective of assessing the value that digital transformation programs provide to key stakeholders.


The last 10 years have laid witness to new financial and non-financial reporting requirements and renewed vigor for internal controls over data well beyond just financial reporting data. Plus, during this time, we have seen the emergence of digital agility, big data and business transformation embracing the usage economy. 

Today, executives rightly want more meaningful information when, where and how they need it. They also want it visualised in a way they can easily understand.

The biggest takeaway from this brief is that it is the industry's forward thinkers who will shape the future: “the accounting and compliance professionals who master the critical data in internal and external reports that drive the business will be invaluable in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The brief serves as the link and facilitator between the past, the present and the future of compliance. The whole purpose of the research, and the brief, is to stimulate robust and meaningful dialogue between all key stakeholders. 

The goal is to propel compliance and business reporting into transparent, innovation-friendly, actionable and dynamic changes which prepare us well for a future already in transformation.

I encourage you to visit the IMA website to get your free copy of the brief.

XBRL® is a trademark of XBRL International, Inc. All rights reserved. The XBRLTM/® standards are open and freely licensed by way of the XBRL International License Agreement.

About the Author
Liv Watson
Liv Watson

Senior Advisor and Digitisation Lead

Liv is on secondment to the IMP, leading the IMP’s facilitation on digitisation. She also chairs the IMP’s Non-financial Digital Transformation Working Group, an initiative aiming to determine if and how non-financial reporting lends itself to structured data using the open international standard for digital business reporting, XBRL.

As the co-founder of XBRL and the XBRL International consortium, Liv works globally with leading market regulators, accounting associations and institutions. She has held several speaking engagements on financial and business reporting standards, its benefits, potential applications and adoption in corporate governance and social responsibility reporting. Liv has also held several leadership positions related to XBRL, including as a member of the IFRS XBRL Advisory Committee, the XBRL International Steering Committee and the XBRL Standing Committee.

Liv has authored one of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)’s most successful professional courses, “Accounting System Technology for the 21st Century”, and published numerous articles for international publications and journals. She is an editorial board member of the “International Journal of Disclosure and Governance”, as well as the co- and contributing author to several books, including “XBRL for Dummies”, and the “Governance, Risk and Compliance Handbook”, “The Landscape of Integrated Reporting,” and “Effective Auditing for Corporations”.

For the past 10 years, Liv has also been the Senior Director of Strategic Customer Initiatives at Workiva Inc., which has served over 70% of fortune 500 companies and more than 200 EU companies with their statutory reporting requirements.

Liv is a long-standing member of the IMA and is an Advisory Board Member to the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Albany. She is Norwegian and currently based in Amsterdam.

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