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XBRL in France: An Overview
2009-06-16 Editor: Views:

Geoffroy de Urtasun is Consultant at THEIA Partners, a consulting company based in Paris, helping banks, investment firms, and financial departments to set up and maintain their business and regulatory information supply chains. Guillaume Fénelon is Business Development Director at Infogreffe, the computer platform for French registers.

The first XBRL project in France has been COFINREP, launched by the Bank of France as a national implementation of the European reporting frameworks COREP and FINREP.

XBRL’s implementation in France continues with the development of a new global banking regulatory reporting regime called SURFI, complemented by the business register platform Infogreffe, which uses XBRL for companies’ financial statements.

SURFI Regulatory Reporting to the Bank of France

Within the French territory, the Banking Commission, hosted by the Bank of France, is in charge of supervising banks and investment companies. The Commission expects from financial institutions that they periodically transmit various risk and accounting statements on their activity.

These institutions are required to produce reporting in three frameworks: COREP, FINREP, and BAFI. COREP and FINREP are based on European inspiration, while BAFI reporting includes information necessary for local risk and accounting supervision per French rules as well as monetary indicators for European Central Bank statistics.

Begun in 1993, BAFI has undergone an important overhaul: the SURFI Project. SURFI — Système Unifié de Reporting Financier / Unified System of Financial Reporting — aims to ensure continuity in supervision while simplifying institutions’ reporting burden by rationalizing the circuits of collection and using the XBRL reporting standard.

By using streamlined taxonomies to reduce the required volume of reports, SURFI aims to encourage institutions to concentrate more on the reports’ contents, and enable them to devote more time to analyzing their regulatory indicators. The quality of the reports will be reinforced and the supervisory system may become more accurate.

Currently, French financial institutions have started their own projects to prepare to send their first SURFI reports in July 2010. This again raises the importance of XBRL for the banking sector, already used to produce quarterly COREP and FINREP reports.

XBRL Filing to Infogreffe

Infogreffe is the electronic platform for the 135 French registrars. It leads various dematerialization projects to facilitate access to official data and juridical services: Infogreffe proposes a notification service concerning the establishment of companies, and changes or deletions have been filed electronically since 2007.

As well, Infogreffe recently has developed a filing service for companies’ annual accounts (financial statements) using XBRL.

The project started in late 2007 using the XBRL France taxonomy for French Annual Accounts (“taxonomies comptes annuels”) based on the General Accounting Plan. This taxonomy has been enhanced with company identification data and information added by the registrars to obtain TCA-G and TCA-GI taxonomies — respectively used for the deposit and the publication of French Annual Accounts by Infogreffe.

Since this project was based on XBRL, it went well and fast. After only one year, the French companies’ 2007 financial statements can be downloaded as XBRL instances from the Infogreffe website. Work is now in progress on further developments of taxonomies for other types of annual accounts like banks and insurance companies, and to include consolidated statements and additional fiscal information.

Infogreffe has prepared an Internet portal for electronically filing annual statements. Moreover, Infogreffe is making offline software available to produce annual accounts in the XBRL format.

Guillaume Fénelon comments:

On the Infogreffe website, visitors can find companies’ legal information. Additionally, moving forward, Infogreffe also proposes dematerialized electronic deposit for formalities like registrations and annual statements on an additional portal. Through both of these portals, XBRL becomes the standard of reference for displaying elementary financial information.

Until now, the annual statements were digitized with copies or an extract of some key figures. Now,

With XBRL, the digital statements become more and more detailed. New elementary data items can gradually be compared with each other, and some other legal information will be included, like the identity of the company, or preferential rights and pledges.

The initiative gives rise to the first interactive database of French companies’ legal and financial information.

In June 2009, XBRL projects for accounting software companies are about to start. And each company now can send its annual account reports using XBRL and analyze financial statements from its clients and partners with this technology. XBRL, which had appeared in France through two large regulatory projects (and driven through international initiatives like SEC reporting) now is spreading to every French company.

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