Blog, External Reporting

Antipodean Adventures - Report from Australia

I was in Australia in the first week of May for Certent’s Partner Summit held in the capital city of New South Wales, Sydney. This was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some of our business partners from Australia and New Zealand and we had some terrific sessions covering topics on narrative and regulatory reporting, research on companies by analysing publicly available information, and a general survey of regulatory reporting in the APAC region. The participants were very keen to hear about the use of software to assist in both external and internal reporting and were eager to learn from our experiences elsewhere with both open, or free form, reporting environments such as to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and closed, or fixed form, regimes such as those in Europe from the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). There was a lot of interest in the opportunities to assist Australian firms that are designated Foreign Private Issuers (FPIs) and which now need to file financial data information in XBRL format as a new separate exhibit to their Form 20-F or Form 40-F annual report to the SEC using International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

There is a great deal of regulatory reporting in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region that we discussed at the summit, some using structured data, some still using older technologies such as paper and PDF. We shall be watching this area closely as it represents a very interesting growth area for structured data reporting.

In particular, the regulatory reporting landscape in Australia is changing somewhat now that the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) has decided that the 20-year-old D2A system for managing the receipt of regulatory filings is due for a complete revamp. APRA, founded in 1998, is headquartered in the national capital, Canberra, and is the supervisory authority overseeing banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, private health insurance, friendly societies and most members of the superannuation industry. APRA is funded largely by the industries that it supervises which, as of last year, held $6.1 trillion in assets for Australian depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members. It is one of the main agencies that participate in the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) approach employed in Australia to online or digital record-keeping that was introduced by the Australian government in 2010 to simplify business reporting obligations. The other agencies are the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the eight State and Territory Revenue offices (STROs). SBR is itself part of the Australian Business Register (ABR) Program which has as its goal the streamlining of government reporting and reduction of the cost of compliance for business. The other two parts of the ABR are the Australian Business Number, a national identifier for business, and AUSkey, which provides a single and secure log in environment.

It is encouraging to see that it is not only the technology that is changing, however, but also the way in which all parts of the reporting ecosystem are now recognised as being important to engage with. APRA are now seeking input from stakeholders as they move towards implementing a totally new D2A system and, to that end, Certent met with APRA in Sydney to discuss their plans. They encouraged us to add to the feedback they have already received from stakeholders to help them implement a system that works for everyone. We can anticipate sharing increasing amounts of information with APRA going forward, with their plans being firmed up by the beginning of 2019 – so we are hopeful that the new reporting system from this regulator will be ready to be serviced by Certent later that year.

We wrapped up the summit by introducing the Certent DisclosureNet research tool to the attendees. Of interest was the fact that it has had over 20 million public disclosure documents from the United States, Canada, UK and in particular Australia (from the ASX). The audience of thought leaders and consultants with deep background in enterprise and regulatory reporting, representing both private, public and government sectors, provided very positive feedback. Certent DisclosureNet is an analytics platform that mines raw disclosure data and instantly transforms it into meaningful corporate intelligence. Start your own free trial of Certent DisclosureNet.

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