XBRL – The New Language for Business and Regulatory Reporting 

Starting 3 March 2014, all Singapore-incorporated companies are required to file their financial statements with the ACRA in XBRL. It's never too soon to get ready.

What is XBRL?
XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a computer language that, through a process of tagging, makes documents machine-readable.

  • Way forward to assist more effective and efficient decision making
    Currently, financial statements or other information prepared in Word, Excel or HTML formats can be read but not analysed or processed according to the user's needs. For example, the word "Revenue" appears in many places in the financial statements, but a reader may want to have all "Revenue" references and related information collated in one place. Currently, they would need to do so manually because information is not machine-readable and needs to be copy/pasted or keyed-in before it is used for analysis/ decision-making purposes.

    XBRL enables source data to be tagged electronically, making the data machine-readable. Thus, the user's system can automatically extract the information without the need for copy-pasting or keying-in. XBRL enables tagging of numbers, quantitative data and textual information. The benefits of XBRL go beyond compliance since any data collation process can be streamlined using electronic tags.

    The following diagram depicts the process:
   XBRL process diagram

ACRA announces revised XBRL filing requirements
ACRA announced on 3 February 2014 that the revised XBRL filing requirements will be implemented from 3 March 2014. Replacing the online FS Manager will be a new offline tool, BizFinx, for preparing XBRL financial statements and the BizFinx Portal, for submitting the Annual Returns together with these financial statements.

  • Who is affected?
    From 3 March 2014, all Singapore incorporated companies (unless exempted below) which are either unlimited or limited by shares required to file their financial statements with ACRA will be required to file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format, according to a Minimum Requirement List within the new ACRA Taxonomy 2013 (i.e. Full XBRL). Filing of Option B (Partial XBRL), using FS Manager, will no longer be available.

  • Who is exempted?
    There are two main categories of companies exempted from Full XBRL:
    Companies exempted
    from full XBRL filing1
    Filing requirements
    from 3 March 2014
    •  Companies that are regulated by the
       Monetary Authority of Singapore:
       commercial banks, merchant banks,
       registered insurers and finance

    •  Companies allowed by law to
       prepare accounts in accordance with
       accounting standards other than
       Singapore Financial Reporting
       Standards (SFRS), SFRS for Small
       Entities and International Financial
       Reporting Standards
    • File annual general meeting financial
       statements in PDF format

    • Submit Financial Statement
       Highlights in XBRL format (FSH)
       using BizFinx
    •  Companies limited by guarantee

    •  Foreign companies registered as
       local branches
    • File only annual general meeting
       financial statements in PDF format
    1 It has been further clarified that insolvent exempt private companies now have the options to
       file either
      • a full set of financial statements in XBRL format; or
      • a set of financial statements in PDF with FSH.

  • What is the Minimum Requirement List?
    The Minimum Requirement list comprises a set of elements within ACRA Taxonomy 2013.
XBRL mimimum requirement
Detailed information element Minimum Requirement List
Statutory reports • Statement by directors
• Independent auditors’ report
Primary financial statements • Statement of financial position
• Income statement
• Statement of cash flows
Disclosure notes • Corporate and general
• Employee benefits
• Government grants
• Operating segments
• Property, plant and
• Provisions
• Revenue
• Selected income and
• Share capital
• Trade and other
• Trade and other payables
* Entities may choose to use BizFinx to file its full set of financial statements.

  • Transition support available for preparers and companies
    To assist companies in meeting the revised XBRL filing requirements, ACRA is offering support in various ways, including:
    1. Release of a beta version of BizFinx for companies to explore its functionalities in the preparation of XBRL financial statements.
      This version has been replaced by a latest version release on 12 November 2013, which will be the official version for use in the preparation of XBRL financial statements for final submission to ACRA from 3 March 2014. A functionality will also be available to transfer information from this beta version to the latest version.
    2. 30-day extension for companies other than public listed ones to hold AGMs and file Annual Returns, with fee waiver available.
    3. Road shows to create awareness for business community
    4. Subsidised half-day training seminars to provide more detailed information to companies on the revised XBRL requirements and a demonstration of BizFinx.
    5. One-day intensive training courses for preparer to explore the tool in-depth.
    6. Various useful guides are also being provided by ACRA to understand the requirements and how to use BizFinx.

  • What you should start considering now?
    As the effective date is 3 March 2014, it is not too soon to get started. In fact, companies should not underestimate the steep learning curve that comes with any new technology and would be well advised to start their process planning now.

    Here are some pointers for your consideration:
    1. Understand what the revised XBRL filing requirements entail and how they will impact your company’s financial reporting processes
    2. Identify key individuals within the company who will be responsible for managing the XBRL preparation process
    3. Plan for the magnitude of the initial efforts involved in tagging and resolving errors identified as well as for the appropriate level of review throughout the process to help ensure completeness and accuracy
    4. Consider if you wish to outsource the preparation of XBRL financial statements, if resources are constrained and not yet fully trained.
    5. Provide adequate time for training, process development and quality assurance checks
    6. Explore using the beta version of BizFinx to prepare draft financial statements based on prior period's audited set of financial statements.
    7. For companies other than public listed companies, consider if the company would like to apply for extension and fee waiver from ACRA.
    8. For companies expecting to submit their XBRL financial statements in end February 2014, plan to ensure that you are using the appropriate tool (FS Manager or BizFinx) to prepare your financial statements. If delays are likely, we would encourage companies to start off with BizFinx to avoid any reworks required.
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