Although he’s leaving the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) where he led some of the most significant efforts in information technology, Louis Matherne expects to still be very active with CPAs and their work with technology.
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Matherne, who as the AICPA’s technology division director in the 1990s directed efforts to help CPAs build technology consulting practices and more recently led the institute’s work in developing XBRL, a computerized system for business reports that enables users to automatically access very specific bits of information and format them to meet individual needs, has accepted an executive position with .the Information Systems Security Association (ISACA), a developer of information systems auditing and control standards and administers of designations that include the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).
“I’ll still be in the accounting and technology community, the focus will just be a little different,” said Matherne, 52, who joined the AICPA in 1994 and gained a reputation as a trailblazer by among other things, forging alliances with software companies to develop IT consulting training programs, helping to create the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) designation, and championing the institute's XBRL work.
Matherne is leaving the AICPA entirely. Some news report headlines have simply stated that he was leaving the XBRL project. As the technology division director, he led the AICPA’s efforts in organizing a consortium that developed and publicized XBRL and for the past four years, as part of his AICPA work, he has served as president of that consortium, now known as XBRL International.
Upon joining ISACA on or about April 10, Matherne will be involved in the group’s general work of helping corporations optimize their information technology systems, and promoting tools developed by ISACA. He expects to split his working time between his home in Connecticut and the organization’s headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Indeed, Matherne will still be close to the accounting profession. More than 5,000 of ISACA’s approximately 50,000 members are CPAs, and the association in mid-January forged an agreement with the AICPA that makes CPAs, who hold its CISA designation, automatically eligible for the institute’s CITP title.
Matherne is changing jobs during what may be a pivotal time for XBRL. While the Securities and Exchange Commission has indicated it wants to make XBRL the required format for public company reports, it cannot do so because of limited market acceptance – only nine companies are now filing in XBRL under a pilot the SEC launched last year.
“The numbers certainly are not there now, but they will pick up,” Matherne said, noting that corporations may have been deferring action on XBRL in order to attend to the increased reporting requirements from the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) law enacted in 2002. Ironically, a prime reason for the SEC’s interest in XBRL is the technology’s ability to help it to meet SOX’s section 408, which requires the agency to more frequently review certain financial reports.
Matherne also noted the XBRL efforts and accomplishments which include: XBRL technology development by scores of technology vendors, including Microsoft and Oracle Corp., XBRL adoption efforts by countries worldwide, and a recently launched banking industry program in which regulators, led by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., require banks to submit their financial call reports in XBRL format.
Working with one CPA’s proposal that the then-new Extensible Markup Language of tagging electronic documents for quick retrieval could be applied to business reports, Matherne in 1998 led the AICPA to join forces with technology vendors, Big Four (the Big Five) firms and financial data analysts and aggregators to form the development consortium. XBRL International now boasts more than 400 members.
“Louis has been a key contributor to XBRL since its inception. We will miss his considerable talents and leadership,” said Kurt Ramin, chairman of XBRL International. “Louis will definitely be missed. He is the one person most responsible for kick starting XBRL,” added Wayne Harding of XBRL technology developer Rivet Software, who, as an executive with the former Great Plains Software Co., worked with Matherne in the XBRL movement.
The CPA who originally conceived XBRL is Charles Hoffman, a director with another XBRL systems developer, UBMatrix, and a former member of the Knight Vale and Gregory CPA firm in Tacoma, Wash.