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However Slowly, XBRL May Become a Reality in Portugal
2010-11-11 Editor: Views:

My “day job” is designing and building XBRL taxonomies. Despite my eight years of evangelizing through conferences and regular meetings with the major regulators and institutions in Portugal, XBRL remains little-known in my country. There was an expectation that the OTOC (Chamber of Chartered Accountants) would become the XBRL facilitator in Portugal, but now that seems to be on hold.

In some ways, it is surprising that XBRL has been slow to take off in Portugal. Regulators and institutions have heavily used XML in their filing programs. For example, a project called IES, developed by Bank of Portugal, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, and Statistics Portugal, is collecting financial, business, and accounting information through a form-based application or an XML file sent from companies' ERP systems. This is one of the most successful IT projects in Portugal.

Many of us think that bringing XBRL to IES would be a natural next step in XBRL adoption for Portugal. As it stands, financial institutions that are unfamiliar with overseas XBRL filing regimes remain worried that XBRL has to evolve more before it can add value for analysts and investors. Some hope that Portugal will follow the lead of the UK’s HMRC and mandate Inline XBRL (iXBRL).  Inline XBRL hides machine-readable concept tags behind the legible captions, so that, for the first time, XBRL can be displayed in a browser exactly as the originator intended. This cuts out the middle-man between the reporting company and the investment analyst’s website. Inline XBRL allows the original financial report to be analyzed directly without the time, inefficiency, and errors related to cutting/pasting or transcribing company data into analysts' spreadsheets.

As it happens in many countries, the ultimate drive for adoption may come from America’s SEC. The SEC's requirement for XBRL financial statements is forcing the larger Portuguese companies to address XBRL; in 2011 those companies with SEC filing obligations will also need to file their financials in XBRL. This is already encouraging interest among the Big 4 in Portugal, and I am hoping that local software vendors willfollow suit.However slowly, whether from internal or external pressures, it appears that XBRL may become a reality for Portugal.

 
 
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