Contrary to popular belief, the need to embrace the new iXBRL international e-filing standard represents a huge opportunity for accountants, argues Mark Davies.
Much has been written about the impending deadline for embracing the new iXBRL electronic format in company financial accounting. In the UK, HMRC has set 1 April 2011 as the date from which companies will have to file their Corporation Tax computations and supporting accounts electronically using the new international data exchange standard. However, all too often the commentary has focused on the negatives, when there are many benefits associated with standardised data exchange - not least that is has sparked a whole new round of innovation in accounting software.
Static reports lose impact
Right across the financial services field, from accountancy services to banking and IFA practices, the momentum towards dynamic reporting and client self-service has gathered such force that the trend is now irreversible. The days of clients waiting infinitely for a definitive paper-based report are coming to an end, because the average business is no longer adequately supported by static answers to pre-known questions.
In the more dynamic and brutally competitive areas of financial services, newer technology has already begun to turn this situation around. Open standards and closer integration between back-end data entry and front-end reporting tools have transformed the ability to produce more frequent, even ad-hoc reports, enabling faster decision-making. In the more advanced scenarios, on-the-fly reporting facilities have been made available as a value-added service to clients - a self-service tool, readily accessed online.
A chance to innovate
The accounting profession has now been given a chance to catch up, thanks to the availability for the first time of a vital, yet hitherto missing, link between back-end bookkeeping systems and front-end reporting solutions, and this is all thanks to the iXBRL standard.
Mark Davies is UK country manager at Twinfield.