XBRL: reducing reporting complexity

eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

Digital reporting using XBRL is gaining momentum. It has been adopted in more than 30 countries for business-to-government reporting. Deloitte advises both reporters and data collectors in implementing digital reporting solutions ranging from preparing reports to collecting and analyzing data.

What is XBRL

eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is an open standard for the exchange of financial and non-financial information in a digital form. It has been developed in cooperation with XBRL International, numerous national governments, regulators and companies. 

Key benefits of XBRL

XBRL belongs to the family of XML languages. Because it is machine-readable, computers can directly recognize information in an XBRL document, process this information, and exchange it with other computers. No manual re-keying of data at various points in the reporting chain is needed. This reduces the reporting and overall data processing time and minimizes the risk of reporting and analyzing inaccurate or inconsistent information. XBRL also allows for customized reporting to meet the specific needs of information users, such as investors and analysts.

XBRL adoption

XBRL is already used in more than 30 countries for business-to-government reporting. It is mandated for listed companies in the United States, Belgium, UK, Denmark etc. At a European level, EBA and EIOPA have also mandated the use of XBRL for national regulators and in many cases the mandate has been extended to the local financial institutions as well. XBRL is also being considered to become the standard for European level annual reporting for listed companies. Recently, standard setters of non-financial reporting, such as GRI and CDP have adopted XBRL. See XBRL reporting milestones.

In the Netherlands, the government has mandated XBRL under the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program. The SBR program covers Tax reports, Chamber of commerce reports, and statistics reports. The major Dutch banks also use XBRL for credit reporting. Furthermore, a mandate for the digital accountant’s statement is also being prepared. 

XBRL services

Deloitte's global network of member firms support both reporters and data collectors in implementing digital reporting with XBRL by focusing on four areas:

  • Taxonomy Design and Management: Create structured reporting sets by designing XBRL taxonomies to collect data in digital form  
  • Digital Reporting: Embed XBRL in the reporting process to produce digital reports
  • XBRL Assurance & Support: Verify the process and quality of the XBRL reporting process and the correct application of the XBRL filing requirements to make sure collectors receive the right information
  • Data Collection & Analytics: Automate the data collection and validation of digital data to save time in processing reporting information
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