COMPANIES that file financial statements with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) will switch to a revised system later this year that will make life easier for analysts.
The change will affect about 60,000 firms and centres on what is called the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).
XBRL is used to present business and finance-related documents in a more standardised way that allows for easy analysis and for more efficient comparisons to be made between firms.
The computer "language" was launched here in 2007, but companies have had the option of filing financial statements fully in XBRL or only partially.
That changes in October when they will have to file full XBRL statements. Most filings in the full XBRL are expected to be made next year when the companies' financial year ends.
Having more companies filing in full XBRL will reduce the cost of data analytics and permit more meaningful comparisons across companies in the same industry.
The changes will also allow firms to submit additional information in up to 11 disclosure notes, such as a geographical breakdown of revenue.
Companies can prepare their financial statements offline and save multiple drafts before submitting them via the BizFinx online portal on Acra's website.
Full XBRL has been adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States and Britain's Revenue and Customs department among others.
Acra will provide the preparation tool free and set aside a training fund of $1.8 million for the first year of the revised system's implementation.
The money will be used to subsidise seminars starting next month, focusing on how to use the new tool, filing requirements and hands-on practice sessions.
Companies can download the beta version of the preparation tool from Acra's website to familiarise themselves with the new format.
The final version will be launched in August.
Non-listed companies affected by the change will be given more time to file their financial statements in full XBRL.
A fee of $50 is payable when companies apply for a 30-day extension to file their financial statements. However, this will be waived for eligible companies during the first year of the revised filing system's implementation.
It will also give companies filing full XBRL financial statements a one-time free data analysis on indicators such as revenue growth, net profit margin, return on assets and total asset turnover with each annual submission.
The data analytics includes comparison between the firm and up to three peers in the industry.
Commercial and merchant banks and insurers and finance companies regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore are among the companies that have been exempt from filing full financial statements in XBRL format.
They will be allowed to keep filing financial statements in PDF format but will have to submit financial statement highlights in XBRL.
For more information, call Acra's technical support line on 6248-6028 or visit their website at www.acra.gov.sg/xbrl
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