New IFRS conceptual framework revises foundational reporting concepts

By Ken Tysiac

A new conceptual framework for IFRS issued Thursday includes revisions to concepts for reporting assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.

In completing the comprehensive project to change the conceptual framework, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) confirmed the objective of IFRS financial reporting as providing financial information that is useful to investors and others when deciding whether to provide resources to a company.

The conceptual framework emphasizes that investors need information about financial performance (income and expenses) as well as financial position (assets, liabilities, and equity). The framework also contains guidance for reporting financial performance.

As defined in the new conceptual framework, assets and liabilities focus on a company’s rights and responsibilities. The framework also states that financial statement preparers’ decisions about what information to report about assets, liabilities, income, and expenses should be based on what is useful to investors.

The conceptual framework is designed to ensure that IFRS are conceptually consistent and that similar transactions are treated in the same way, enabling the provision of useful information for investors and others. In addition, the conceptual framework helps companies develop accounting policies when no IFRS standard applies to a particular transaction.

The revised framework includes:

  • A new chapter on measurement.
  • Guidance on reporting financial performance.
  • New definitions and guidance.
  • Clarifications on important areas such as the roles of stewardship, prudence, and measurement uncertainty in financial statements.

“The revised conceptual framework will greatly assist the board when developing IFRS standards,” IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said in a news release. “It will also help other stakeholders to better understand the concepts that underpin the standards.”

In addition to the new conceptual framework and basis for conclusions, the IASB issued Amendments to References to the Conceptual Framework in IFRS Standards to update references in IFRS standards to previous versions of the conceptual framework. The new conceptual framework and amendments are available on the IFRS website; a subscription is required.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA editorial director.

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