Thomson Reuters Survey Reveals Transition to iXBRL has been Difficult

17 November 2011

LONDON, November 16th, 2011— A survey published today by the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters finds that the transition to the iXBRL compliance regime has proved far from easy for accountants with 67 per cent of respondents describing it as ‘difficult’. Even though the new regime went live seven months ago, the survey goes on to reveal that more than a third of respondents have yet to decide which method they will be adopting to produce compliant accounts. It is estimated that with half of all year ends falling between December and March, accountants appear to be shelving their decisions until the eleventh hour.

The survey took place during a recent webcast organised by the IT Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in association with Thomson Reuters. Over 200 accountants took part in the research with 54 per cent from the business environment and 46 per cent from the practice environment. The two main approaches for producing iXBRL compliant final accounts were demonstrated live during the webcast. Firstly the tagging of a set of accounts generated by Microsoft Word or Excel using a conversion tool and subsequently, the production of a set of accounts using accounts production software.

The sheer volume and range of questions posed during the event clearly indicates that the profession is finding the specific requirements of tagging difficult to interpret; ranging from concerns over the current minimum acceptable requirement for the tagging of accounts data to what HMRC validation checks cover. The research also reveals that respondents expect that the complex tagging requirements of iXBRL will result in more time being spent to produce each set of accounts. More than 47 per cent said that they will spend between 10 minutes and two hours extra and 32 per cent estimate that the additional time cost will sit between two and eight hours per set of accounts.

Other findings include:

  • Despite predictions that the profession would use the introduction of iXBRL as an opportunity for an overall review of IT, over 85 per cent say that they have not done so
  • Almost all respondents, 95 per cent, have not employed additional staff to prepare and review iXBRL filings despite the additional workload
  • Following the live demonstration of accounts production software and a conversion tool side by side, accounts production software won hands down at a ratio of three to one compared with those who said they would use the Conversion Tool.

"This research explores how iXBRL is impacting the profession and provides the first, in-depth look at the amount of additional time accountants believe will be needed to produce compliant accounts,"
said Tom Walsh, senior vice president and managing director, EMEA, the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters.
"The effect on existing workloads is significant at a time when businesses are not looking to hire new staff and only strengthens the case for the implementation of intelligent solutions that can handle compliance efficiently, without adding to head-count."

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