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FAQ – Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL)

XBRL FAQ

General Information

What are the benefits of using XBRL?

Answer: Providing greater access to corporate financial data End-users of financial information can request for specific items in the financial statements across a wide spectrum of companies, e.g. companies in similar industries, for analysis or benchmarking purposes. Such information may not be easily available currently for financial statements which are filed in Portable Document Format (PDF) or hardcopies. It will also require less effort in collating and manual re-keying of data. The potential users to benefit from XBRL includes shareholders, investors, members of the public, banks and institutional lenders, stock brokers, credit bureau, companies themselves, etc; Facilitating one-stop filing Having prepared the statements under one standard format, in the long run it would be possible for one-stop agency to be established where companies need only file one set of financial statements with that agency, e.g. ACRA, to fulfill their statutory financial reporting obligations. The same set of financial statements filed can be transferred to other regulatory agencies with similar filing requirements, e.g. IRAS; and Strengthening regulatory vigilanceHaving expended less effort in sieving through various reporting formats, collating and manual re-keying of data, regulators can devote more time on analysing data and performing their regulatory vigilance functions. Experiences in other countries show that XBRL has been instrumental in improving the regulators surveillance and vigilance functions and ACRA is, likewise , also tapping on XBRL to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of its surveillance and vigilance functions.

Will XBRL change accounting standards?

Answer: No. XBRL is simply a language for transmitting information. It must accurately reflect data reported under the applicable accounting standards, it does not change them. [Source: XBRL.org]

Who developed XBRL?

Answer: XBRL is developed by a global consortium called XBRL.org, which comprises approximately 450 leading companies, associations, and agencies involved in providing or using business information. Members of the global consortium comprise professional services and consulting companies, financial services and information providers, software and other technology providers, government and not-for-profit organisations, and accounting and trade organisations. These include the Big Four accounting firms, International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), UK Companies House, EDGAR Online, US FDIC, Korea Stock Exchange, Microsoft, Moodys Investor Service, Morgan Stanley, New Zealand Stock Exchange, Reuters, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Thailand, Tokyo Stock Exchange, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CPA Australia etc. [Source: XBRL.org]

Which countries or organisations have adopted XBRL?

Answer: To date, XBRL has been adopted by major industry players, such as Dresdner Bank (to enhance its credit monitoring process), Bank of America, Microsoft (to streamline its data dissemination to various stakeholders), Morgan Stanley and Reuters. XBRL has also been adopted by some regulators in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Sweden , China, US and UK for their regulatory filings. These include the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), UK Inland Revenue Authority, the Stock Exchanges of Tokyo, Shenzhen, South Korea, UK Companies House and the Swedish Companies Registration Office. In April 2007, the National Bank of Belgium which is responsible for collecting financial statements from Belgian companies, switched to accepting accounts filed in XBRL.

Where can I obtain more information on XBRL?

Answer: For future announcements and updates on FS Manager and ACRA’s implementation of XBRL, please visit our Homepage at http://www.acra.gov.sg. You may sign up for ACRA News Online to get the latest news updates. To sign up, please fill up the online form at http://appiqs.acra.gov.sg/ops/reg/reg02.asp. Further information on XBRL, including latest updates and international developments can be accessed at:http://www.xbrl.org Frequently asked questions on XBRL can be found in our interactive web service, ASK ACRA at http://appiqs.acra.gov.sg/iqs/ask_acra.asp. You can also access our Interactive Voice Response System for information on XBRL by calling our hotline number at (65) 6248 6028 and choose option 1, followed by 4.

Where can I get some training on the use of the FS Manager?

Answer: To help you with the transition for filing financial statements using FS Manager, ACRA has appointed several training partners such as DP Bureau, the Singapore Academy of Law, Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) Australia, Singapore Association of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (SAICSA) and Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), to offer training sessions on using FS Manager. Details of these training sessions are now available at our website -http://www.acra.gov.sg/News_and_Events/Calendar_of_Events/ You may also sign up for ACRA News Online to get the latest news updates. To sign up, please fill up the online form at http://appiqs.acra.gov.sg/ops/reg/reg02.asp.

How do companies create financial statements in XBRL format?

Answer: Companies can use the FS Manager. FS Manager is a free online tool provided by ACRA as part of BizFile to help companies prepare and manage financial statements in XBRL format. Using FS Manager, company filers or relevant users (e.g. preparers of financial statements) can submit companies financials via completing a series of web-based forms. The web-based forms are designed in accordance with ACRA’s taxonomy requirements. FS Manager can be accessed through BizFile Homepage with effect from 1 May 2007. To use FS Manager, the following are required: On Windows Platform Operating System: Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 and above Web Browser: Internet Explorer 5.5 SP 2 and above (Javascript must be enabled) or Firefox 1.5.0.x and above (Javascript must be enabled) On Mac Platform Operating System: Mac OS X 10.2.x and above Web Browser: Firefox 1.5.0.x and above (Javascript must be enabled)

Why are there no signatures in the Financial Statements filed in full XBRL format (Option A)? How do I know if the accounts have been audited when the filed financial statements do not show any signatures in the Auditors’ Report?

Answer: The full XBRL format (Option A) requires the accounts of a company which have been prepared in XBRL to be filed in that format. The XBRL format in FS Manager does not provide for the inclusion of signatures of the directors or auditors. As such, the pdf document generated from the XBRL accounts will not indicate any signatures. Notwithstanding that the signatures may not be apparent where the accounts have been filed in full XBRL, the director of the company is required to confirm that the accounts which are filed have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act. The onus is on the directors of the company to ensure that the requirements for the preparation of the accounts are in compliance with the Companies Act, including the requirement to have the accounts audited, where applicable. If ACRA detects any non-compliance with the necessary requirements, we will take appropriate action against the company. However, please note that the absence of the signatures of the auditors do not necessarily indicate that the accounts have not been duly audited, as explained.

FS Manager

Do I need to key in both years of financial figures in the financial statements?

Answer: When preparing the financial statements in XBRL format using FS Manager for the first time, you are required to enter both the previous year’s and current year’s figures. However, for subsequent years’ filings, the figures for the prior year will be pre-populated and you will only need to key in the figures for the current financial year, unless there are amendments to the prior year’s figures.

Can I edit the information in the prior year when information is restated?

Answer: You can restate or reclass prior year comparatives in FS Manager.

 There are many items in the templates provided. Do I need to key in 0 "zero" if the items are not applicable?

Answer: No, you are only required to enter data for compulsory items and items that are applicable to your financial statements.

Do I need to fill in the boxes in FS Manager or can I just attach the financial statements?

Answer: If your accounting systems or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are able to export XBRL financial statements conforming to ACRA’s taxonomy, the information in the XBRL financial statements loaded will be populated into FS Manager directly. If your financial statements are prepared using other file format (such as Microsoft Word or Excel), you are able to copy and paste the required information into the necessary fields in FS Manager.

Why can’t ACRA make the balance sheet and income statement in a cut-and-paste format?

Answer: The main purpose of implementing XBRL is to ensure that financial information reported can be collated, analysed and reported easily in future. When ACRA started working on the design of the XBRL system, ICPAS and other professionals were consulted on the best way ACRA can capture and interpret such information. ACRA explored many options including the cut-and-paste option. However, if the cut-and-paste option was utilised, there would be no difference from the old system of using PDF. In addition, with the cut-and-paste format, users will be unable to extract data for surveillance or analysis purposes. There will be difficulties in classification of items and the system may not achieve its purpose in capturing and interpreting relevant

After we have created the financial statements using FS Manager, can the financial statements be saved in FS Manager tool itself or must we save in our computer?

Answer: The financial statements created using FS Manager cannot be saved in FS Manager itself. You can save to your local computer drive. Alternatively, you can save your XBRL financial statements on Bizfile for up to a maximum of 1 week.

What should I do if I encounter an error message in FS Manager?

Answer: You can contact ACRA’s Helpdesk at 6248 6028 for assistance. To enable the Helpdesk to respond to the problem quickly, please provide them with the following information:  

  • Nature of the problem;
  • Message displayed on the screen;
  • Date and time that the problem was encountered;
  • Company registration number; and
  • XBRL document

How do I remove the Draft label on the PDF document generated from FS Manager?

Answer: To remove the Draft label, you would need to log in to BizFile using a valid Sing Pass ID and access FS Manager from there to load the XBRL file. The Draft label will not appear on the PDF document generated in this manner.

In FS Manager, how do I insert the name of the director(s) signing the Directors’ report and the Statement by Directors?

Answer: You can select the director(s) who signed off the Directors’ Report and the Statement by Directors from the drop-down list of auditors pre-populated from BizFile after you have logged in to BizFile.

This is the second year filing/preparation of XBRL financial statements by my company. Can the prior period figures be pre-populated such that I will only need to key in the current period figures?

Answer: For subsequent years of filing/preparation of XBRL financial statements for the company, you will be able to pre-populate prior period figures such that you will only need to key in the figures for the current financial period, unless there are amendments to prior period figures. For usage of FS Manager (with BizFile login) Authorised personnel (company officers and their duly appointed agents, i.e. professional firms, service bureau and their employees etc.) can retrieve the prior period XBRL financial statements filed by choosing the ‘Create’ option. Enter the required information for current year filing. When the system detects that the prior financial period start and end dates tally with the prior period XBRL financial statements filed, the system will prompt to ask if you would like to load the prior period (e.g. 2007) XBRL financial statements filed to pre-populate the prior period figures (e.g. 2007) for current period (e.g. 2008) XBRL financial statements. For usage of FS Manager (without BizFile login) If you have a copy of the prior period (e.g. 2007) XBRL financial statements, prior period figures (e.g. 2007) for current period (e.g. 2008) XBRL financial statements may be pre-populated using FS Manager. Step 1: Open prior period (2007) XBRL financial statements in FS Manager. Step 2: Under Enter Company Registration Number, edit the dates of the financial periods in the following example:

Previous Financial PeriodsNew Financial Periods
Current Financial Period Start Date01/01/200701/01/2008
Current Financial Period End Date31/12/200731/12/2008
Prior Financial Period Start Date01/01/200601/01/2007
Prior Financial Period End Date31/12/200631/12/2007

The system will detect that your new prior financial period start and end dates are the same as your previous current financial period start and end dates. If you would like to pre-populate the prior period (2007) figures directly into your new (2008) financial statements, please click on the checkbox of moving the data in the financial statements according to the financial periods stated.

Taxonomy

What is taxonomy?

Answer: In general, taxonomy refers to a catalogue or set of rules for classification. In the XBRL context, taxonomy is similar to a dictionary, containing computer-readable definitions of business reporting terms as well relationships between them and links connecting them to human-readable resources (metadata).

How does the ACRA taxonomy compare with the IFRS taxonomy?

Answer: In developing the ACRA taxonomy, ACRA’s consultants have identified key financial items to be included in the ACRA taxonomy. ACRA’s taxonomy is primarily based on the requirements under Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS), and closely modelled after the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) taxonomy 2006, with some modifications to cater for flexibility and ease of usage.   ACRA’s taxonomy will also enable preparers to add user defined elements to the enumerated list of items.