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ESEF Assurance

Providing assurance over the quality of digital financial information in annual reports.

There is an FCA requirement for in scope UK listed companies to produce an iXBRL tagged version of their annual reports in the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF). We provide public assurance over the compliance of tagged annual reports with ESEF regulations.

European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) reporting requirements apply to issuers with transferable securities (debt or equity) admitted to trading on regulated markets in the UK. Issuers who prepare IFRS consolidated financial statements are in scope for the ESEF requirement to tag their annual report in digital iXBRL format, which must be filed publicly with the FCA’s National Storage Mechanism (“NSM”). Companies in scope, with year-ends after 31 December 2022 are entering year two of the requirement to file in ESEF format, with the scope of the requirement expanding to include the tagging of the notes as well as the primary statements.

In the UK, auditor involvement in ESEF is not currently mandated, unlike the EU where auditor involvement is mandated as part of the audit. Due to the fact that the annual report for companies in scope will be publicly accessible and readable to all stakeholders in machine-readable format, we encourage those companies to seek additional assurance over their ESEF filings.

There is no requirement under UK law for an auditor to report on whether the electronic formatting of the accounts complies with ESEF requirement. We encourage our audited and non-audited entities to obtain additional assurance over their ESEF filings in the form of ISAE 3000 assurance, including the provision of a public opinion equivalent to that provided on a mandatory basis in the EU.

  • The purpose of assurance over these filings is to identity any material errors before public submissions become visible in the market which may reflect poorly on audited and non-audited entities’ governance and reputation.
  • The accuracy of the reporting that companies publish is under more scrutiny as we move to a digital reporting world in one of the biggest shakeups of financial reporting in many years.
  • We believe it’s important to build trust and transparency in capital markets, giving investors, analysts and other stakeholders confidence in the information available to them in a public forum.
  • Companies will gain additional insight into the quality of the tagging process they have in place, including where relevant, the quality of outsourced tagging providers.

Across the UK and EU, we have implemented a common approach and delivery process for the audit and assurance testing of ESEF filings, using globally recognised xhtml validation technology. Our team of experts can provide an Assurance review over the electronic tagging of the annual report, combining deep iXBRL knowledge with broad IFRS experience. With requirements expanding year on year, including ESG disclosures in future periods, our team can help with navigating key points:

  • Have you tagged correctly? Testing the reasonableness of the interpretation and application of the tagging requirements for your company.
  • Navigating new requirements. Providing scrutiny and challenge to new and judgmental areas of tagging, leveraging our experience across our ESEF client portfolio.
  • Managing your timetable Performing dry-run interim testing in advance of year-end to bring work forward, reducing pressure on the financial reporting year-end timetable.