Today we have another in our occasional series of Q&A interviews with consumers of financial data, to hear about what research they do and how they use Calcbench to meet their analysis needs. Our guest is Vern Richardson of the University of Arkansas.

About Professor Vern Richardson

Dr. Vern Richardson is a distinguished professor of accounting at the University of Arkansas. He teaches Financial Statement Analysis, Introduction to Financial Accounting, and Accounting Analytics.

Dr. Richardson is also the author of Data Analytics for Accounting and Introduction to Data Analytics for Accounting, the only data analytics textbooks for accountants; and Accounting Information Systems, all published by McGraw Hill. He has published numerous research papers on data analytics and accounting.

What got you interested in data analytics for accounting?

I became very interested in how accounting is evolving with the proliferation of computers and the availability of data. I realized early on that the role of accountants would pivot from measurement of transactions to analyzing data. Now that machines are doing much of the record-keeping and there is so much data available to analyze, accountants need to focus their time on interpreting data to address accounting questions.

How did you learn about Calcbench?

I was searching for data providers that would give me access to the raw data from financial statements for my students. I was frustrated with the time it took to pull information from sources like Yahoo Finance.

It was through my interest in XBRL [eXtensible Business Reporting Language] that I learned about Calcbench.

What Calcbench tools do you use?

For me the most important thing is to download information embedded in financial statements into a usable format. I like to download a bunch of companies at the same time.

Beyond the basics, I like to show the “originally reported” feature to my students. Students are often surprised that what’s printed is not set in stone. And the “peer comparisons” tool is powerful. Calcbench makes it effortless to compare a company to itself over time, or to competitors, or against industries, and even to the economy. For visual comparisons, I also like the “common-sizing” tool.

How would you like to use Calcbench in the future?

I’d like to use Calcbench to forecast future cash flows for companies. I’m always interested in the future value of long-term debt and lease payments. In addition, it would be great if Calcbench could give me the Z-score, for example, to help predict bankruptcies. I would also like to use Calcbench to compute sentiment scores through textual analysis for the MD&A of the 10-K disclosures.

Lastly, it would be great to use Calcbench for easy access to disaggregate and decompose financials. It would be great if Calcbench can automate DuPont and Penman ratios for companies.

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