I NEED to find the time one day to put down some thoughts about where capital markets disclosure is heading because it’s a major issue facing the investor relations profession.
It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that regulators are going to be at the center of the disclosure dissemination universe. Regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are going to become more and more technology-based organizations on top of being places filled with legal and financial people.
Think of the SEC as the “Google” of interactive financial data, and you’ll get the picture.
This presents a real problem for other players in the global capital markets who are not as tech savvy. The UK’s FSA is one such stakeholder. So are Canada’s regulators. They’re going to be left behind. Things are changing too fast for them.
And then there are the IR departments and the professionals who staff them. Most of them have failed to keep up with web technology due to an unhealthy reliance on big, complacent vendors. They outsourced their brains as well as the technology.
Some people, like this guy, argue that it’s not the job of IROs to be technology savvy. They’re wrong. Knowing the difference between a .gif and text is core to being an effective IRO in 2008. Knowing what an RSS feed is may be even more important. Understanding when it’s okay to delete a blog comment is vital know-how.
Which brings me to the inquiry I received from the SEC this week. It was an email from Mark Story, Investor Communications Manager in the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. He’s the guy who handled the logistics around last week’s blogger conference call.
Here’s what he wanted to know:
- We are considering holding a live “chat” directly from the open commission hearing. Would you be interested in participating? We would provide the technology.
- For those who are interested in XBRL more from a techie perspective, we are also considering using Twitter and doing “tweets” from the hearing. Are you a subscriber to Twitter?
- Do you ever listen to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ ? This could be a potential venue for XBRL discussions. Again, these are all ideas, but, as David said, we learned as much from you as you learned from us last week.
- Finally, are there other “A-List” bloggers such as yourself who might be interested in participating in any of the above?
This made me smile and shudder at the same time. I found it wickedly amusing because I’m well aware that almost no one with corporate IR influence knows much about Twitter or Blog Talk Radio. But the SEC does.
And it made me shudder because I realized that even I hadn’t been paying enough attention to using these tools. They’re just too far out in front of the people I communicate with and consult to. Most people who read this blog aren’t even comfortable using RSS.
Twitter? Well, that’s not even on the radar.
Things are changing. And as Tim Bray said this week, they’re changing right now.
Don’t know who Tim Bray is do you?
The SEC does.