Escali Blog

XBRL for dummies – a simple guide

Apr 14, 2021 12:48:32 PM / by Andrew Sweetmore

Supervisory reporting for insurance companies and pension schemes requires reports to be submitted in XBRL format. XBRL is the open international standard for digital business reporting, managed by a global not for profit consortium, XBRL International.

XBRL provides a language for reporting that uniquely and clearly defines the data and terms which are to be reported. The aim is to increase accuracy and give better opportunities for testing data submitted.

One can think of XBRL as the bar codes of financial reporting. Like bar codes, XBRL is difficult to read and business professionals require software tools to produce, interpret and validate XBRL reports

So, what do professionals working on Solvency II or EIOPA reporting for pension schemes need to know? This article guides you through the most important aspects of XBRL reporting that the average user will come across.

Taxonomies – defining the data requirements


The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, EIOPA use a data point model (DPM) to structure the data requirements. Each year they publish a taxonomy which implements the technical requirments of the DPM for both Solvency II and pension fund reporting. The taxonomy defines the specific tags that are used for individual items of data (such as “net profit”). The attributes of the data and interrelations are all defined by the taxonomy.

To help business users interpret each new taxonomy, EIOPA publishes a number of related documents which should be familiar to most people who are involved in the reporting process. These are outlined below.


Annotated templates


The Solvency II annotated templates file contains an Excel representation of the data to be reported (a similar file is available for pension funds). Most XBRL software solutions produce Excel reports in this format in addition to the XBRL reports which are used for the submission of data. These extremely useful files provide users with a template for the reports which is useful for both checking the data requirements and reviewing the reports once complete.



List of validations


These files contain the list of validations of Solvency II and pension funds to be fulfilled by the reports. The “Business Validation…” tab is the most useful here, outlining the validations together with an error message which explain the issue. Here is an example:

XBRL validation software solutions differ somewhat in terms of the error messages returned when a validation fails. Sometimes the error messages can be difficult to interpert. However, they almost always include the validation reference (e.g. BV1051). This makes it easy to find and check the validation in the EIOPA file. Note also that the validation file contains columns with details for validations which have been deactivated due to technical issues. If you do not understand why an error message is returned, after reviewing the data, it is worth checking that the validation has not been deactivated.


Filing rules


The last document we cover here is the filing rules file. This is perhaps used less often by business users as software solutions should automatically ensure most of these requirements are met. However it is worth noting that additional data requirements are included here.

The requirement covered in this document are numerous but examples of these requirements include formatting og reported data:

Some definitions of permitted values are also included:


Other information

There are a number of other documents which users may need to consult from time to time. We do not cover these here, but you can find all the documentation on the EIOPA page for DPM and XBRL


Tags: XBRL, Taxonomy, EIOPA

Andrew Sweetmore

Written by Andrew Sweetmore

Head of Business Development for pensions and insurance, Andrew has over 20 years experience within this sector. Having previously worked as a pension Scheme Actuary in the UK, Andrew now leads our pensions and insurance team.