To an outsider, financial reporting might seem a little bland — but we know it’s an incredibly dynamic world: the rules are constantly changing and the challenges are constantly shifting. Here at Toppan Merrill, we’re continuously evolving our Bridge platform — and we’re excited about the Explorer release. You can find all the details on what’s new and improved in the full release notes, available right in the Bridge platform through Bridge Assistant (which I’ll talk more about later). But here’s what I’m most excited about — the enhancements, improvements, and completely new features designed to enable smarter, better, more efficient financial reporting:
1. A whole new Bridge user experience
The biggest change in the Explorer release is a completely new user interface. We’ve reimagined the look and feel of Bridge to provide a modern, simple-to-use user experience (UX) that’s unified across all Bridge apps. The all-new Bridge dashboard matches the updated UX of newer Bridge apps like Filings and Versions, which we already know users love. Beyond a fresh, modern look, you’ll immediately notice that Bridge is more intuitive to use and quicker to navigate. We’ve made it easier and quicker to find precisely what you need — and dramatically reduced unnecessary clicks.
2. Filings and Versions Applications
Improvements to the Filings App enable our clients to operate with as much or as little assistance as they like. Your team can own the entire periodic reporting process, we can fully file your reports for you, or anything in between. The app now makes it easy and seamless for our Toppan Merrill associates to work together with your team in the same digital spaces, and ensure that digital handoffs are frictionless. And we’ve added built-in guardrails to give you more confidence when self-filing — greatly reducing the chance of technical issues that require support, and eliminating the risk of inadvertently filing something before you’re ready.
Like the rest of the updated Bridge platform, the Filing and Versions Apps get a UX refresh that not only looks sharp, but cuts clicks by nearly half for many common tasks.
The Versions App includes new automation capabilities, including automating the creation of filings by auto-populating submission headers. We continue to add new proof types to the Versions app, giving you additional export options such as Word docs and PDFs. You can expect to see additional new proof types popping up over the coming year.
3. Bridge Assistant: In-app help and support, on-demand
I’m really excited about this one — and I think our clients will be, too. We’ve created a fully integrated, built-in help and support app within the Bridge platform. The new Bridge Assistant is your one-stop, on-demand source for user guidance in Bridge. You can find the full release notes for this Explorer release, as well as short, helpful video vignettes on features and functionalities that are new, plus hidden-gem features you might not be familiar with, but that could likely save you time and/or worry.
My favorite part are new guided walkthrough videos and articles that teach you how to use specific features and functionalities within Bridge. These walkthroughs save you tons of time: Rather than waiting for a service request, you can teach yourself anything in just a few minutes.
The Bridge Assistant is a great example of Toppan Merrill’s unique commitment to helping our users be as successful as possible with the tools we provide.
4. Auto-archiving of files
We’re particularly proud of this 100% user-driven new feature: Last year at our Horizons User Conference, we heard clients asking for a faster, less-manual way to save/archive as-filed folios each year. Immediately after the event, we got to work. We created plans for an auto-archive feature, then ran those plans by our vocal users from Horizons to get their feedback. We built out that feature and again went back to these clients to get their feedback on how we could improve it. The final solution automatically saves and archives all your as-filed folios as soon as you file in Bridge — saving you the time and hassle of remembering to manually save these files.
5. Excel® Linking File to SharePoint®
The Bridge platform is enabling faster, smarter, easier collaboration. But this release includes functionality that, for the first time, enables real-time collaboration within Excel® files — and linking to SharePoint®. This feature also stemmed from overwhelming requests from our clients. Since it is now common practice for companies to use a secure method like SharePoint to collaborate on financial statements prior to filing, we built new functionality that enables Bridge users to link to any Excel file on a company SharePoint platform. This means real-time updates to Bridge folios — and a single source of truth for financial data that is often changing right up to the filing deadlines.
6. Updates for the latest taxonomies (US GAAP, IFRS, ESEF)
Toppan Merrill is committed to keeping our Bridge technology current with the three core taxonomies: US GAAP, IFRS and ESEF. We are constantly in communication with the regulatory bodies that shape these taxonomies, so we can get the earliest-possible start on building our conversion engines and making any other necessary updates to our technology. This year, our conversion engines are available earlier than ever before — ensuring the necessary evil of the conversion process doesn’t become a bottleneck when we get down to crunch time with filing.
Looking ahead: Adapting with regulatory shifts
While we look to our clients for guidance on how to make Bridge better, we also keep a close eye on the fast-moving regulatory landscape. Here are two things we’re watching right now:
- EDGAR Next: The SEC is currently reimagining the entire process of how filings are submitted. The EDGAR Next initiative aims to make the SEC filing system as secure as possible in the face of increasing cybersecurity threats. Such a major revamp has the potential to be very disruptive to filers, but Toppan Merrill continues to partner with the SEC, and leading advisory committees that meet with federal regulators weekly. We’re working together to make sure the rollout of any changes is done in the least-disruptive way. Virtually nothing has been established yet, and the SEC has not set a deadline, but our clients will be the first to know when relevant information becomes available.
- Proposed SEC Rules: We’ve seen the pace of SEC rulemaking accelerate exponentially over the past few years. We’ve also seen the Commission adopt structured data to new and proposed rules. Here is a link to the SEC website for the latest proposed and final rulemaking.
Again, while these changes have the potential to be disruptive for filers, Toppan Merrill is in a unique position to advocate for our clients. Our role on advisory committees ensures we are aware of any developments with proposed changes as early as possible, so we can communicate them to our clients — and work to adapt Bridge to streamline regulatory changes for filers. Moreover, I personally chair the Communications Steering Committee at XBRL US, and we regularly submit comment letters to the SEC on proposed topics. This is just one of the ways we actively advocate for our clients, helping to shape the future regulatory landscape to ensure more accurate, reliable financial reporting — without putting undue burdens on filers.
Making Bridge an agile, future-ready platform
As I mentioned at the top, the rules, requirements and challenges are constantly in flux in the world of financial reporting. We’re committed to making Bridge an agile and future-ready platform for our clients. I encourage you to check out the new features and enhancements in the Explorer release via the release video. And get in touch if you want to hear where the Bridge product roadmap is headed next.
Chase Bongirno, Director of Product Management – Toppan Merrill
Chase Bongirno is the Director of Product Management for Toppan Merrill. He leads a team of product management professionals committed to continuously improving the Bridge platform and measurably improving outcomes for our clients. Chase serves as the Chair of the XBRL US Communication Steering Committee and is a founding member of the XBRL US Data Quality Committee.