FSA ditches XBRL

FSA ditches XBRL

The UK's Financial Services Authority has stated that it will not be introducing the eXtensible business reporting language (XBRL) format for filing of financial and regulatory returns.

The regulator was expected to introduce XBRL as a common reporting format for its Mandatory Electronic Reporting (MER) system, but says it has decided to use standard XML for electronic reporting instead.

In a statement, the watchdog says that it has decided that the XBRL format "is not the most appropriate technology for the FSA or UK financial services regulation at the current time".

The FSA says it does not believe there is sufficient XBRL experience within the UK to develop an XBRL-based system "without incurring additional cost and risk" and feedback from regulated firms suggests that the availability of XBRL software support and industry experience within the UK, whilst on the increase, is still relatively low.

"Existing FSA systems, such as the product sales data system, have been developed in the standard XML format and it is therefore a logical step to introduce an MER system that builds upon and further develops the existing technical infrastructure that supports standard XML based reporting," says the statement.

The regulator goes on to say that although XBRL allows listed companies and mutual funds to make their financial and regulatory information publicly available, unlike other regulators it is not required to provide or facilitate access to such corporate disclosures: "Therefore, one of the main benefits of XBRL as a 'firm-oriented' technology would not be realised by the FSA."

The FSA's MER system will manage over 150 different e-forms and over 12,000 different reportable facts (referred to as data elements). The system will use these data items and elements and generate tailor-made returns for each and every FSA regulated firm that is required to report via MER.

However, although the FSA has chosen not to adopt XBRL, in the US the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently developing a system that would enable firms to file periodic and investment company reports using the XBRL format.

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