As per 1 January, all Dutch entrepreneurs will be digitally submitting their financial statements to the Chamber of Commerce, as they already did to the Dutch tax authorities. For banks, receiving businesses' annual figures digitally will also become the norm in 2017. Delivery of the reports is done through Standard Business Reporting (SBR).
Entrepreneurs provide their annual reports to various authorities in the Netherlands, including the Chamber of Commerce and the tax authorities, as well as their bank. That takes time and money. Using SBR, business owners and their intermediaries can now instead create and securely send their reports to all parties from a single central source. The uniform accounting method makes financial reports easy to compare, which has a number of advantages. For instance, client-specific and sector-specific insights may be gathered and then used by intermediaries to expand their services accordingly. Furthermore, digital reporting with SBR is done through a secured connection, and the entrepreneurs are sent confirmation of receipt. At the receiving end, the data is ready to be processed and presented. This means the entrepreneur can get a speedy answer to questions about things like financing.
Intermediaries can choose among a range of software products to facilitate online delivery of their clients’ financial statements. The product acts as a bridge between the entrepreneurs' accounting software and the banks' financial administration systems, using SBR.
In coordination with software vendors and intermediaries' professional associations, over the past few years banks have been working hard on building safe and secure SBR Banking technology that makes it easy to exchange financial information with entrepreneurs online.
Berend Dinkla, Chairman of the Board of the Dutch Financial Reporting Cooperative*, says: “For businesses connected to SBR, consolidating the annual figures is much faster and less prone to errors. As time progresses, a multi-annual digital archive is created. And SBR can save banks a lot of time in their business lending processes.”
The world is rapidly digitalising. With this new measure, intermediaries can ultimately free up more time to provide their clients with financial advice. Those intermediaries and entrepreneurs who have not yet adapted to the new technology will have to apply extra effort. They will soon recoup this time investment, though, as the standardised method is more efficient and saves them money.
Menno Kooreman, Manager SRA Automation, states: “In the past, when submitting credit reports or renewing a credit arrangement, we had to go to the accountant to retrieve the annual figures. Meanwhile, the entrepreneur had all kinds of other relevant information we needed, including details on loans, securities, age analyses of payables and receivables, SBI codes, et cetera. With this major change in the process, an integral credit report is to be created by one party, in a central system. Either the entrepreneur or the intermediary will have to get all the information under one roof. If an intermediary is handling the reporting, they need to collect all the missing pieces and consolidate that into a full picture. Not an easy task for the majority of offices, and the costs can add up.”
Naturally, after 1 January, entrepreneurs and intermediaries still retain the option of providing their financial statement in PDF format. After the first quarter, however, ABN AMRO will start charging entrepreneurs who do so 250 euros in processing costs.
In the months ahead, business owners and intermediaries will be approached by their own bank with more information about the digital delivery standards and the advantages to be gained with their bank.
*The Dutch Financial Reporting Cooperative is responsible for developing and managing technical infrastructure that allows entrepreneurs and businesses to submit their financial accountability data (credit reports) to ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank in a standardised digital format. The FRC also defines and manages the joint collection of data (also known as the banking taxonomy) which lies at the foundation of SBR.