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2007-10-15 来源:Financial or Communications 编辑: 浏览量:

XBRL - solution for unstructured data

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) proposed an overall development framework of "three new-generation projects" (namely, the new-generation information system, the new-generation trading system and the new-generation website) at the beginning of 2000. The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., a world-class consulting firm, and the tycoon of the financial information industry Reuters Group PLC (Reuters) have been engaged in succession for avant-courier consultancies on the Internet strategy and information strategy implementation planning.

A panorama of the information system appeared before the SSE's management when the planning of the Reuters' experts turned out. "In the chart, the line between 'unstructured data management' and data bus stands for the great importance of the contents," said Zhao Xiaoping, currently Directorate Chairman of SSE InfoNet Ltd. and then in charge of the Information Center. "The international anti-terrorism experts revealed when giving lectures on the SSE after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the difficulty in anti-terrorism is the unstructured data rather than the structured," Zhao said. Thus, this leads to the research on planning of the strategic implementation of information system.

Due to the unestablished foremost data warehouse of the SSE information system and the blank unstructured data management system, the SSE had to keep the 3-million-page unstructured information in Word format for more than 20 years according to laws, which mainly were listed companies' announcements with hidden risks and values. The storage and quick search of the information was a hard nut for the SSE officials.  

A favorable turn came in the autumn of 2002 when Doctor Li Wei from the Information Center of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) recommended the "Essentials of XBRL" to the SSE. "The elementary guide book of XBRL is the solution for unstructured data," said Zhao. A reading group, consisting of the backbones from the Listed Company Department, the Information Center and the new Information System Team in charge of data warehouse construction, was immediately established to study the book and translate its essentials into Chinese. Besides, one experienced technology consultant was appointed for each backbone to solve technologic problems. Till then, the technologies for the SSE's unstructured data processing had taken shape.

Application: Vital Force for Standard

Organized by the CSRC, the conference of the work group for the "Electronic Information Disclosure Standard for Listed Companies" was held in Jan. 2003, in Qingyuan, Guangdong. The XBRL-based Standard, the topic of the CSRC Information Center, ultimately became one of the first eight standards in the securities and futures industry during the key research period in the "10th Five-Year Plan". Meanwhile, the establishment of the XBRL-based standardized reporting system for information disclosure of listed companies was underway. After one-year technology demonstration and system development, the first reporting system had been developed and put into use by the end of 2003.

The SSE then made a bold and prudent decision to introduce the system to Shanghai-based listed companies, rare over the world and only with the SSE-listed Shanghai-based companies as pilots.

The SSE's Listed Company Department has to compete with time during the disclosure of annual reports of listed companies at the beginning of each year.  Besides the completion of the disclosure as of the legal deadline, they had to input the data of the statements into the database and wrote 30-odd special reports for the CSRC's reference, such as reports on the capital occupation of listed companies' major shareholders. Due to the manual input, the efficiency and accuracy of the final data was still a challenge. 

In early 2004, one more task was added to their busy work. As a training teacher, the Listed Company Department organized several training courses to teach listed companies to use the XBRL template along with technology personnel. Due to listed companies' controversial attitude with the change of information disclosure method, it was difficult for them to choose XBRL format rather than Word and PDF formats (quite the same as persuading a pen-accustomed person to use a keyboard), which was a crucial reason why foreign supervision authorities failed in rapid promotion of XBRL. Though mandatory administrative methods were adopted by domestic exchanges to listed companies, it might not work according to the experiences.

Therefore, the SSE decided to solve listed companies' actual difficulties from their perspectives. In addition to the template-based input technology for workload reduction of listed companies, the SSE improved the reporting template in terms of the feedback from their trainings and adopted measures of guidance and service for active promotion of the XBRL template.  

As a result, successes were achieved one after another in SSE's pilot project in 2004. The 1st XBRL instance document of the annual report abstracts in 2003 was produced on February 6 through the standardized reporting system. Since March, the SSE promoted the reporting system when listed companies disclosed their 1st quarter reports in 2004, with 118 listed companies reported the abstracts of annual reports of 2003 and 730-odd reported the full texts of the 1st quarter reports of 2004 as of the legal deadline of disclosure, accounting for over 90% of the total listed companies on the SSE.

 

Chart: SSE's sound and steady promotion of the XBRL application in the information disclosure of listed companies

From Abstracts to Full Texts

At the time, the SSE considered to apply the success in submitting the abstracts to the full texts, bringing new challenges to Shanghai New Lido Data Technology Co., Ltd. (New Lido), the designer of the XBRL technological platform. Firstly, the quantity and complexity of work is to rise because New Lido has to process the full texts with thousands of elements instead of the abstracts with hundreds of information elements; secondly, the verification function of the articulation, the important feature of XBRL, asks for more efficient process on the reporting system: the difficulties to verify the articulation equal to that of resolving the "NP-complete problems" in mathematics. With the number of the variables increasing, the processing complexity would grow by index. The end users are always sensitive to the response speed of the system, so the design of the verification algorithm should be accurate. If not, the satisfaction with the reporting template might be greatly reduced, with the whole standardized reporting project affected.

After shouldering the task, New Lido organized a special team of technological experts to update the standardized reporting template in large scale: firstly, to add the full texts with the annual report annotations as well as many statement content for regulation to the template; secondly, to equip the template with specific help file and rules guideline to facilitate the listed companies to refer to the rules related with the project and fill in the report; thirdly, to produce the full texts of the annual reports in XBRL and WORD formats by one time input; fourthly, to optimize the XBRL-based engine algorithm and improve the response speed of verification. Thus, the verification result of the full texts of the annual reports will come out in 1 minute.

With the template updated, the SSE decided to report the full texts of the annual reports with the financial statement annotations and many statement content for regulation in XBRL format at the beginning of 2005. All listed companies except the financial enterprises adopted the XBRL technology to submit their full texts of the annual reports and quarterly reports.

Following each reporting work, the Listed Company Department would make a survey to find out whether the listed companies are satisfied with the reporting process and instruments. According to the survey, more than 80% listed companies held that the reporting system just increases a little workload or the additional workload is acceptable. What's more, listed companies managed to finish all the reporting work in several hours with increasing satisfaction with the reporting system year by year.

At that time, only China succeeded in the overall reporting of the full texts all over the world. The listed companies are pleased to accept the reporting method by enjoying the advantages XBRL brings, such as reporting procedure simplification and business process improvement.

Casting Eyes on Globalization at the very Beginning

Due to lack of successful domestic application cases, the SSE has always been promoting the XBRL technology on the most advanced international application level from the very beginning.

In June 2004, the SSE invited Walter Hamscher (the former Chair of XBRL International and XBRL technological expert) and experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers to examine the standardized reporting system for listed companies. After 2 months' survey, the experts held that the XBRL application of the SSE totally conformed to the international standards, and was on the cutting edge all over the world.

The SSE, approved to be a member of the XBRL International in April 2005, became the first unit that joins XBRL International in China. Later, the SSE submitted the "China Listed Company Information Disclosure Taxonomies", formulated according to the disclosure of the full texts of the annual reports, to the XBRL International for acknowledgement. The taxonomies, the first set approved by the XBRL International in China, contains two complete sets of tags in Chinese and English, by which anyone can understand the statements of China's listed companies if he/she knows English. That was unimaginable in the past.

In the early 2006, the SSE announced to entrust the international famous information provider EDGAR Online with the sale of the information disclosure products of listed companies in XBRL format to the global customers, marking completion of the SSE's full industry chain from information resources collection and information integration to the end information products sales.

More Challenges Ahead: Fund Products, New Accounting Standards, Financial Listed Companies, Temporary Announcements

The SSE has been in action since its successful application of XBRL in information disclosure of listed companies.

Since the second half of 2005, the SSE, given its successful experience, has proceeded to promote XBRL application in fund information disclosure by developing fund taxonomies. Fund instance documents can be searched and presented on the information platform of the SSE Mutual Funds Distribution Channel. In the second half of 2006, the SSE-developed Fund Company Information Disclosure Taxonomies became the first of its kind ever acknowledged by the XBRL International. The SSE now is actively cooperating with the CSRC, fund companies and accounting firms to formulate domestic industry standards for electronic fund information disclosure.

Since Jan. 1, 2007, the new accounting standards took effect according to the regulation by the Ministry of Finance. The SSE has made a significant upgrade to the standardized reporting system and the current taxonomies based on the new accounting standards. Listed companies now can submit reports under the new accounting standards through the system.

As differing from ordinary companies in accounting treatment, financial listed companies including banks are unable to adopt the same reporting templates and taxonomies. The SSE has begun to develop taxonomy for financial listed companies since the second half of 2006. By the end of 2006, the development of two taxonomy sets based on the new and old accounting standards have been completed, covering listed companies in banking, insurance and trust industries, and the corresponding standardized reporting system for financial listed companies was launched in early 2007. Thus all of the SSE-listed companies have joined in the standardized reporting system.

Although the current standardized reporting system has been applied to all the SSE-listed companies and embodied the full texts of all the periodical reports, up to 300 kinds of temporary announcements, which may be disclosed at any time, are not included in the system. The diversified temporary announcements are not unified in specification and standard, how to handle the significant and irregular information, therefore, is the SSE's another hard nut. At present, the SSE's technological experts are studying on the temporary announcements, and it is believed that the announcements will soon be brought into the standardized reporting system. 

Long-Term, Arduous Tasks

The SSE still has a long way to go in terms of its own business application demands despite its outstanding performance. Firstly, the SSE should continue to formulate and optimize its taxonomies system geared to international practices in line with the China accounting standards. The system includes the information disclosure of listed companies and fund products, and if possible, also that of treasury bonds and futures in the future.

Secondly, the SSE sets the online presentation of XBRL instance documents as its long-term objective to allow investors to directly benefit from XBRL application. The SSE has so far accumulated considerable XBRL instance documents with some available on its website. Investors can attempt to access the listed companies' information by necessary analysis tools, facilitating XBRL promotion in the future as well.

Meanwhile, the SSE is now actively enhancing exchanges with members of the XBRL International by participating or organizing various XBRL-related academic activities to share its experience in the XBRL application.

The SSE, leveraging its accumulated XBRL information resources, is also promoting the business information operation of XBRL data to provide investors at home and abroad with listed companies' XBRL-based information. It will help investors have a all-round, accurate and in-depth understanding of Shanghai's securities market, improve the transparency and profundity of the market and expand the impact of China's securities market. SSE InfoNet Co., Ltd. has developed business cooperation with EDGAR Online and New Lido.

Seeing the worldwide trend and the reality in China, SSE General Engineer Bai Shuo explained at the International Symposium on Standardization of the Securities and Futures Industry in Oct. 2006, "At present, the value chain based on the XBRL is not linked up in China. The listed companies' information in XBRL format, after being processed by different users, should return to the market for boosting the transparency of listed companies. More analytical and demonstrating instruments are in demand to help market participants get their needed information for higher efficiency. We should work on the following three aspects: (1) to get more resources, (2) to obtain more support, (3) to add value. Specifically, firstly, to educate the market for more convenient information reporting and adoption of XBRL in more fields and industries; secondly, to get support from international organizations and industries and to fully take advantage of the trend of promoting the XBRL; thirdly, based on texts, to invent a whole set of instruments to get the data value known and used by the market as soon as possible."

The SSE has been in touch with XBRL International, expecting to establish the XBRL-CN jurisdiction in China since long before. Besides, it hopes to cooperate with the XBRL International to promote XBRL application in China.

The widespread promotion of XBRL has been possible in China. The CSRC and the China Finance Standardization Technical Committee Securities Sub-Committee have made great efforts to regulate relevant industry standards and national standards related to XBRL. Meanwhile, initiatives have been taken to research and promote the application of XBRL by ministries and commissions including the Ministry of Finance, the People's Bank of China, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the State Administration of Taxation and the General Administration of Customs of People's Republic of China.

As a forerunner in domestic XBRL industrial application, the SSE will assume more responsibilities of the XBRL promotion.

 

Chart: Brief instance documents of 1st quarter reports of 2006 of all the SSE-listed companies on the SSE's website

 

Chart: the SSE's template interface for submission of full texts of 2006 periodical reports

 

Chart: tools provided on SSE's website for searching data in XBRL format

 

Chart: tools for searching XBRL fund data provided by the SSE Mutual Funds Distribution Channel

 
 
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