Interactive Small Caps

Interesting take on XBRL for small caps and microcaps on the SEC’s Government-Business
Forum on Small Business Capital Formation
being held today.

According to speakers including Malcolm C. Persen, CFO at Radyne Corporation, Chris
Whalen
from Institutional Risk Analytics and Greg Adams from EDGAR Online, Interactive
Data will help new investment vehicles such as hedge funds, and the buy-side
generally, to access small and micro-cap companies as a hitherto-ignored asset
class. Fund managers are looking for a competitive edge, and the small-cap
world is believed to offer that. Investors like the Virginia Retirement System
would feel that they are better able to cover those types of stocks if a lot of
the labour-intensive work can be avoided. XBRL offers a way for them to gain a
better understanding of the business, without incurring a lot of the complexity
and expense that they encounter today.

In fact, all the points from Assoc. Prof. Deborah
Allen-Hewitt
, who sits on the Investment Committee of the Virginia
Retirement System, were well made. From her perspective (backed up by Chris
Whalen) the problem is not too few analysts on the sell side. The sell side is
likely to continue to focus on the big end of town. The entire investment world
will become their own analysts, and Interactive Data will make the financials
more pervasive, facilitating that analysis and investment. This is a new
business model for financial analysis. According to Prof. Hewitt, XBRL could
mark a watershed in the speed, accuracy and availability of information. That
said, investors want something new. Broader, deeper data about companies is
what investors really want to see, and XBRL provides a great way to provide it.

There are 15,000 odd companies that are outside of the Russell 3000. According
to the panel, Interactive Data will help small companies make their story
because the information will be better, more believable and more transparent.
It will help investors sift this information, which is why there is a real
advantage in being an early adopter. The first group of small companies to get
involved will be the first to be identified.

Unsurprisingly, there was a uniform call for improvements to tools that the
user community can take advantage of. We’ll see if we can do our bit 😉