Best to start early for XBRL Solvency II reporting

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European insurance firms become the latest sector to adopt XBRL as part of Solvency II reporting.

The deadlines may feel a long way off, but Solvency II requires a much greater depth of information to be provided than previous insurance regulatory reports and the use of XBRL places a much greater emphasis on the quality of the data.

The growing trend to use XBRL as the basis for all compliance reporting to governments and market regulators has been demonstrated this September as around 800 French insurance firms have submitted Solvency II reports in XBRL to the ACPR. Thousands of banks will have already delivered XBRL reports earlier this year as part of the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) CRDIV reporting framework and insurance firms in other European countries are gearing themselves up to test their XBRL reporting systems later this year and next. Together these initiatives represent a major upheaval in the way European financial services firms report and the key lesson learned is to start early.

A successful delivery

The first Solvency II reporting in France has been a success for around 75 insurers who chose Vega® – Milliman software, which is based upon UBPartner’s ( XBRL reporting tools. The advice to firms who are preparing to adopt XBRL reporting over the next year is to follow their lead, select a supplier with in-depth reporting knowledge, proven software systems and don’t delay in getting started on the process.

“The deadlines may feel a long way off, but Solvency II requires a much greater depth of information to be provided than previous insurance regulatory reports and the use of XBRL places a much greater emphasis on the quality of the data. So planning ahead and testing early will ensure that you are prepared. It is also sensible, given that the new reporting framework will require some changes to existing workflows, that firms should be looking to see if XBRL can help them improve the automation of their reporting process and establish better quality checks at the same time” stated Alexandre Lasry, principal at Milliman (

“The key lesson learnt from XBRL projects in both the banking and insurance sectors is that it is best to start your planning and testing early” added Martin DeVille, VP Business Development at UBPartner, a leading supplier of XBRL technology and software tools for the European financial services sector. “You need time to look at the different solutions in detail in order to meet both short-term and longer-term requirements. Firms are often told that XBRL is just another format and the task can be simply outsourced; or they are told that they can use an online conversion service, but the XBRL conversion is just part of the story. XBRL is a format for exchanging data, but its impact reverberates along the whole information supply chain from the reporting firm’s in-house accounting and compliance systems, all the way to the regulator’s analysis systems. This is why we work with companies like Milliman, who are able to facilitate the complete chain. When you are facing tight regulatory deadlines, finding that your supplier only does half the job or realising that the process is so time-consuming that you cannot fix data issues, is not a nice place to be.”

Growing XBRL Adoption in Europe

Solvency II is part of the fast growing adoption of XBRL as the standard for information exchange in Europe. Frameworks are already in place for XBRL reporting for tax offices, business registers and for bank reporting to the EBA across Europe.

This wave is expected to increase as regulators look for further harmonisation of compliance and reporting standards both within a country and across borders.

Learn from experience

“Milliman chose to work with UBPartner because they really understand how XBRL works and have a simple yet flexible range of tools that we can integrate into a range of solutions that can meet all of our customers’ needs. In particular, the UBPartner XBRL Toolkit removes the need to understand complex XBRL syntax by providing pre-mapped Excel templates. Our customers simply load the data into the template and run the XBRL Converter Tool to generate a 100% compliant XBRL document. A complete set of validation reports alert the user to any mistakes in the document. This feature proved to be very useful in the first round of French reporting, enabling insurers to efficiently finalize the first delivery required by supervisors” added Alexandre Lasry.

Simple and Flexible XBRL Solutions

The UBPartner tools use the business rules contained in the XBRL taxonomy to test the consistency of the data, identify where numbers don’t add-up or where the right information has not been supplied.

The UBPartner XBRL Reporting Toolkit is provided as a set of integrated components that can be configured to work as part of any organisation’s preferred workflow. Users can work on individual sections, validate them, correct them and then combine these sections into a complete report. The tools can be deployed as part of an existing application using an easy to use software development kit, or they can be run via a simple batch script that can generate multiple XBRL reports. The Toolkit also includes a Microsoft Excel add-in to enable the users to interact with the tools directly while they are reviewing or preparing a report.

XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language)

XBRL is fast becoming the standard for financial information exchange and reporting demonstrated by the XBRL programs being driven by the European Banking Authority (EBA), European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and numerous government agencies. The XBRL standard is maintained by XBRL International:

About UBPartner

UBPartner is a privately owned company with headquarters in Paris and offices in London. It provides a full suite of solutions and services that enable companies and regulatory agencies to realise the benefits of XBRL – from the underlying processing engine, to desktop development and deployment tools, all the way to packaged solutions for regulators and government agencies.

UBPartner technology and tools are used today in many advanced and demanding XBRL environments such as market regulators, government agencies and major corporations in France, Belgium, UK, Ireland, Poland, Norway, and Luxembourg and by leading software vendors, such as Oracle, SAP and Infor.

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About Milliman

Milliman is among the world’s largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. The firm has consulting practices in healthcare, property & casualty insurance, life insurance and financial services, and employee benefits. Milliman is a global firm of more than 3000 employees, with over 55 total offices operating in all major markets across Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. For more than 60 years, an attention to rigorous standards of professional excellence, peer review and objectivity has made Milliman the leading independent actuarial firm.

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Martin DeVille
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Alexandre Lasry
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