Seahorse iXBRL Excel conversion – a sneak preview

It’s official – Seahorse can now help you tag your Excel based accounts. The beta version of our fast, accurate Seahorse iXBRL conversion tool is now available for demonstration.

The final production version will be available later in September. The beta version shows how accounts documents created in Excel can be uploaded to Seahorse and tags applied in a similar manner to the auto-tagging of Word accounts. If you’re an existing user of the Word version of Seahorse you’ll find the workflow very familiar, including the same intelligent tag suggestion process designed to speed you through tag selection.

So, if you’re currently using Excel to create your accounts and have no wish to change your process in order to comply with HMRC’s mandate for the filing of Corporation Tax accounts in iXBRL, look no further. Seahorse provides the perfect solution for Excel users, so get in touch with one of our Seahorse partners today!

Seahorse takes up the Indian XBRL challenge

The move towards XBRL as the standard technology for regulatory filing continues to gather momentum, India being the latest country to issue a mandate. The Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) now requires all listed companies and certain unlisted companies to file their balance sheets and profit and loss accounts for the year ended 31st March 2011 in XBRL format.

The key to XBRL filing is the ability to produce XBRL instance documents as efficiently as possible. Following the success of our Seahorse accounts tagging solution in the UK market, we are updating the solution for Indian companies. Seahorse already supports the Indian taxonomy and we are currently adding a series of relevant validation rules to ensure MCA compliance.

Reviewing iXBRL Filings II

My previous blog post talked about review sheets in Seahorse™. However, even if you’re not using Seahorse, you can still check the quality of your iXBRL documents prior to filing. Why is this important? Because even though HMRC has indicated they will not penalise filers who make best endeavours to comply with the mandate, their guidelines also state that incorrect or missing tags may in certain circumstances prompt further risk assessment and follow-up.

Enter Magnify™, our desktop document review tool. Magnify uses a checklist approach to guide you step by step through an assessment of your iXBRL document. Wherever possible it performs automated tests, verifying calculations and highlighting any discrepancies and errors. No matter whether you produce your iXBRL in-house, use the output from an accounts production package or outsource the whole process to a third party, Magnify gives you that extra peace of mind knowing that you’re submitting quality documents that will pass the HMRC gateway without issue.

Reviewing iXBRL Filings

So, you’ve finished tagging your iXBRL accounts, but what happens if others need to review them off-line prior to sign-off?  Till now that hasn’t always been easy if senior management doesn’t have access to your tagging service.  With Seahorse, it’s a problem solved.

Seahorse lets you export an Excel spreadsheet detailing every line item in your iXBRL document, showing the line item description, who tagged it, the concept label, the confidence level of the chosen tag, the suggestion ranking and whether the tag belongs within the Minimum Tagging Set.  It’s particularly useful for reviewing the consistency of your work and providing an explicit audit log for your filers.

iXBRL Filing Just Got Faster

iXBRL has been a reality since April, but post-mandate it’s clear that companies are still struggling to cope with HMRC’s requirement for iXBRL filing.  During a series of recent iXBRL webinars we questioned delegates about their filing plans.  Many had filed early to avoid the issue – for this year at least – and others had outsourced the problem, but a significant percentage claim little understanding of iXBRL and remain ill-prepared to meet the new filing obligations.  Most expressed concern about the amount of additional time they would need to spend on the conversion process.

Mindful of this prevalent view, we have been constantly evolving our Seahorse tagging tool to cut the conversion time.

From the beginning Seahorse included a unique autotagging facility, suggesting tags for each concept in the financial tables and letting you then review and confirm the appropriate tag.  This process has always been quicker than traditional ‘drag and drop’ methods, but the new Bulk Review facility in the latest Seahorse release has made it even faster.  No longer do you have to review suggestions line by line, you now have the option to confirm all ‘high confidence’ items – or even all items in the table.  Three clicks are all you need.  Seahorse also now interprets simple column headers containing only a year (e.g. ‘2011’) and expands these to the correct reporting period, saving you even more time.

To speed up the process still further, Seahorse now immediately alerts you if a tag you are about to create has already been used elsewhere to report a different number.

Are you prepared for iXBRL?

HMRC iXBRL Solutions Fair, Chelsea

HMRC organised a highly successful iXBRL Solutions event at the Chelsea Football Stadium on June 30th. With a wide array of vendor exhibits, there was a solution for everyone. The interest in Seahorse was phenomenal. We appreciated the attendees’ obvious interest, as well as the air of conviviality and general willingness to squeeze in among the throngs who gathered all day long to look at our demo and talk about how Seahorse converts accounts from Word or Excel into iXBRL. Those who made themselves known to us ranged from sole practitioners to enormous accounting firms and FTSE companies. It was also great to see people who had introduced themselves at previous events returning to have another look and chat about the finer details. The demand for Seahorse is clear!

ICAEW Roadshow – Demystifying XBRL – Notes from the Road

The CoreFiling Seahorse team is “Demystifying XBRL” all over the UK this week and next with the ICAEW and HMRC. Following the success of the London event on December 17th, which was packed to capacity, the ICAEW regional roadshows kicked off yesterday – aptly enough – in Manchester City Football Stadium. More than 80 people attended. Who would ever have predicted that XBRL would have such mass-appeal! Drama was heightened further by a brief emergency evacuation of the venue mid-morning; it seems that their smoke detectors are fully-functioning.

As the Manchester event wrapped up, one of the panellists drew the attention of the audience to the e-mail addresses of all the speakers listed on the Programme with the caveat that any hard questions should be sent to our very own John Turner! That’s fine by us, and if the questions are the kind of ones that might be of interest to lots of people, we may publish the answers, so please send them in or place them in the comments here.

Today’s venue is the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. On Monday, we have two sell-out events scheduled back-to-back in the splendid Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London’s Moorgate. On Tuesday, you can see us at The Bristol Golf Club. Then we travel to the north of England for a breakfast seminar on Thursday morning in the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.

The purpose of the Demystifying XBRL events is to help accountants understand what the iXBRL mandate means for them. We dispel fear and discuss solutions. The speakers cover everything from the high-level technical lingo to the finer details of the regulation itself. There’s also an opportunity to preview Seahorse, our iXBRL solution.

If you’re attending any of the events, please say hello to the Seahorse team!

Recap – why we will all use Inline XBRL

Today we round out our review of some of the main answers to Why should you use Inline XBRL?.

Inline XBRL means a simplified review and improved control. It is probably obvious, but the review of an Inline XBRL document is considerably easier than that of a native XBRL document, simply because you can skip a step – you can be confident that the facts that have been marked up are the same as the “original” because of the single document aspects of the format. It is still necessary to determine whether the document has been prepared using the right taxonomy, whether the facts have been marked up (tagged) with the right concepts and using the correct dates and other context information such as dimensions, but users are very much more comfortable dealing with an Inline XBRL document that you can look at and “touch”, rather than the somewhat more abstract idea of an XBRL formatted rendering of a document. Naturally, Magnify (Touchstone) can deal with either format.

Let’s recap.

  • Inline XBRL is about to be an official standard of the XBRL consortium and will be in use by several major regulators shortly.
  • Inline XBRL allows you to intersperse XBRL markup instructions inside an ordinary web page.
  • Inline XBRL is more accessible, and more easily understood for reporting professionals who are generally very concerned with the formatting of their documents.
  • Inline XBRL can be easier for Accounting Software Vendors to implement. And it can be easier to review.

Securities regulators, company registrars and stock exchanges should all consider adopting Inline XBRL as part of their transparency initiatives.

Easier for accounting software vendors to implement

The other day I asked the question, Why use Inline XBRL? A key reason is that is easier for Accounting Software Vendors to implement.

Many accounting software vendors, the firms that produce most of the GL systems, accounts production packages and ERP systems on the market, don’t use XML (let alone XBRL) on a day-to-day basis. Many systems are starting to, but the majority of vendors are hugely reliant on databases and third generation languages in the construction and maintenance of their software, which has often been working reliably for decades.

Inline XBRL is simpler for most vendors to deal with than raw XBRL, in part because it is generally a two step process:

  1. get around to producing that HTML (strictly speaking XHTML) report output format that has been on the to-do list for the last 7 or 8 years, and
  2. wrap the facts that are coming out of the core database in some fairly simple Inline XBRL tags.

Those tags, of course, use the XBRL mapping that is a fundamental part of coming to grips with structured business reporting. Note that many of these vendors don’t need to deal with extension taxonomies, as their target market is the small and medium sized business. Those that do will still need to construct them appropriately. Hey it’s good, but it’s not a magic wand!

In the next blog we’ll round this mini-series out by suggesting that Inline XBRL simplifies the review process and improves the controls for companies as they prepare their accounts.

Inline XBRL is easy for the preparer to understand

The other day I posed the question Why use Inline XBRL? Another key reason is that an Inline XBRL document is easy for the preparer to understand.

There is one major concern that we hear from regulators around the world as they introduce XBRL. It is that controllers, CFOs and FDs that are providing XBRL information that relates to a financial report (as opposed to a form, where this concern doesn’t exist) don’t know how to be sure that the “bag of angle brackets” that they are producing accurately represents their financial statement.

Modesty doesn’t stop me from mentioning that tools like our very own Magnify (Touchstone) help resolve this issue, but nevertheless, the use of Inline XBRL takes away almost all of those concerns. It makes this process much simpler. The information that is marked up can, almost trivially, be identified and, vitally, the marked up information is exactly the same as the information that you read, simply because it is the same information. It works for text as well as for numbers. Inline XBRL also lets you incorporate web friendly navigation. You can, for example, have a report span multiple pages of HTML but be collated on the fly at the time of consumption into a single XBRL document.

Some regulators, by the way, have been getting around this problem, with what is in effect a parallel process i.e.: by asking companies to file a PDF document with full visual fidelity at the same time as the XBRL document. After all, the PDF looks and feels the way the preparer wanted it to and the XBRL is structured and contains the same information in a format that can be easily analysed. Honestly, this is not a great idea. It adds work to already overworked finance and compliance teams and, perhaps worse, creates uncertainty – what do you do if you have inconsistencies between the documents? Inline XBRL solves these problems.

My next article will look at why Inline XBRL is easier for Accounting Software Vendors to implement.