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University of Iowa News Release

 

Oct. 2, 2008

Sale to help SEC make financial records more available to investors

University of Iowa law professor Hillary Sale will participate in a roundtable discussion to look at how a new SEC database can provide investors with more useful financial information about publicly traded companies.

The database -- called IDEA -- will be an electronic repository of disclosure statements and other financial records that public companies are required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The information will help investors build a more current and accurate financial picture of a company or mutual fund that they might put money in.

"IDEA will make it a lot easier for investors and markets to find the information they need," said Sale. "For instance, they will be able to make cross-company comparisons within an industry, or compare CEO compensation between companies. And with increased transparency in a company's financial records, analysts will be able to pull numbers for their comparisons with ease."

The roundtable will be held in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 8 and will be webcast at http://www.sec.gov.

The SEC is bringing IDEA online in stages, and it will eventually replace the agency's EDGAR database. EDGAR was started in the 1980s and is technologically obsolete, Sale said.

IDEA is part of the SEC's transition from collecting government-prescribed forms and documents to making the information itself available to investors in a user-friendly format. IDEA will give investors the ability to utilize interactive data to instantly search and collate information to generate reports and analysis from thousands of companies and forms, which was not possible with EDGAR.

Sale said the roundtable's discussions will help guide the commission as it examines how the agency acquires disclosure information from public companies, mutual funds, and other market entities. It will also discuss how that information will be made available to investors and the markets.

The roundtable will be organized into two panels. The first panel will explore the data, technology, and processes that companies and other filers use in satisfying their SEC disclosure obligations. It also will consider the data and technology that investors use in making their investment decisions.

The second panel will consider how the SEC could better organize and operate its disclosure system so that companies see efficiencies and investors have better access to information.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell), tom-snee@uiowa.edu