Bank of England Statistics Data collection moving to XBRL

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Statistical Data collected by the Bank of England will use XBRL as the reporting format in future. This will be phased in from the end of 2021.

Following on from Green Notice 2020/02 published on 25 November 2020, the Bank of England has today published Statistical Notice 2021/02 confirming that the submission of Statistical Data to the Data and Statistics Division (DSD) will be moving from XML to XBRL.

What is XBRL?

XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is an XML standard widely used for financial reporting (e.g., Solvency II). It’s not the easiest data format to understand but it is standardised, machine readable and is becoming a format of choice for data exchange throughout the financial sector.

The Bank of England has been using XBRL to collect Solvency II data for some time, for both the EIOPA-defined templates and its own bespoke templates for national specific reporting. It was a natural choice for the Bank to use it for Statistical Data reporting and should help to harmonise their data collection across sectors.

There is a lot to understand if you want to become an XBRL guru but, if this is new to you, the main thing you will start hearing about is “taxonomies”. A taxonomy in XBRL is just the term used for a set of templates, rules for what type of data can go into those templates, validation tests to make sure your data conforms to required business rules, and a specification for how to turn it all into an XBRL file (which remember is just a fancy looking XML file). In other words, it is just the set of templates familiar to you plus some IT stuff that you shouldn’t really need to worry about.

OK, so how do you make XBRL files?

While XBRL is standardised and becoming increasingly common, it still requires specialist knowledge falling outside of the expertise of most in-house IT people and developers.

Companies that do have in-house developers that understand XBRL may still find that they do not have enough of these developers to build the required system in a suitable timeframe. And if the XBRL-savvy developers leave, the company could find itself exposed with an in-house solution that it cannot easily maintain.

For these reasons it is commonplace to use an external provider to generate your XBRL files for you. As mentioned above, each XBRL taxonomy includes a set of validation tests defined within it, and an external XBRL provider will easily be able to incorporate this.

At FS Assist, we maintain a suite of products for financial sector XBRL reporting.

BoE Stats Reporter, our Statistical Data reporting solution, makes reporting as easy as filling in a spreadsheet.

What should companies do now?

More information is expected from the Bank of England in April, but the fairly tight timescales mean you would be wise to take action now.

If you report Statistical Data to the DSD then you need to have an XBRL solution.

If you currently use a software provider then we would recommend you contact them to make sure they are able to support you in the new XBRL world. Ask them:

  • How will the files be generated (e.g. what’s the user experience)?
  • How will the validation results be reported back to you and what support will be provided by the software provider to help you fix any issues?
  • How will you be able to verify the contents of the XBRL file to make sure all of your data is present and appropriately tagged?
  • How quickly will the software provider be able to provide you with updates for changes to the taxonomy and the validation tests?

If you currently run your data reporting in XML format in-house, then you should make sure that your team can deliver properly formatted and validated XBRL files, or else find yourself an XBRL software provider.

At FS Assist we support hundreds of companies through their XBRL reporting using a combination of both Excel add-ins and automatable applications providing ease, speed, flexibility and visibility.

We know what it can be like staring at a black box with five minutes to go before the deadline. That’s why we have a clear and user friendly solution and a responsive support service so that you have the best chance of getting your job done without having to deal with “computer says no”.

For more information about FS Assist or DSD reporting, or for a demonstration of our software, please contact us.

If you have an existing software provider and you are looking for a back-up solution or something to perform clear and independent verification, we would also be happy to assist you.