Comprehensive Guide to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)


Colleen Cosgrove


Reviewed by


May 25, 2023

This article is Tax Professional approved


IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) is a common global language for business affairs to ensure that company accounts are understandable and comparable across international boundaries. Sounds important, right? Well, it certainly is.

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In simpler terms, IFRS is like your favorite burger joint’s secret sauce. It’s what makes your business financial reports reliable and comparable, just like how that sauce brings all the flavors together in your burger. So, let’s get you familiar with this ‘secret sauce’ of the financial world.

The importance of IFRS For businesses throughout history

Think back to the early 2000s, when big corporations like Enron and WorldCom collapsed due to financial mismanagement. These events shook the business world to its core, highlighting the dire need for a consistent, transparent, and reliable system of financial reporting. Enter IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), a beacon of hope in an era marked by financial turmoil.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll see that IFRS has become a gold standard in financial reporting, adopted by over 140 countries worldwide. It has played a pivotal role in fostering trust and understanding among stakeholders, ultimately contributing to the stability and growth of businesses globally.

“IFRS has not just revolutionized financial reporting, but it has also played a significant role in shaping the business landscape as we know it today.” - Bench Accounting

How IFRS compliance can attract venture capital?

Embracing the IFRS in your business operations offers a myriad of advantages that you may not have considered. IFRS brings with it the promise of increased comparability, enhanced financial transparency, and a better chance of attracting international investors.

Imagine being able to ‘speak’ the same financial language as businesses across the globe. Your financial statements would be easily understood by foreign investors, opening up exciting new opportunities for growth. Moreover, the transparency that comes with IFRS adoption can strengthen your business reputation, a factor that can positively impact your bottom line.

Understanding IFRS financial statements with examples

Let’s say we have a company, XYZ Corp. Here’s a simplified version of their IFRS financial statement:

Statement Amount
Revenue $1,000,000
Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) $400,000
Gross Profit $600,000
Operating Expenses $200,000
Net Income $400,000

See? It’s just a matter of knowing what each line item represents and how they interact. And that’s the beauty of IFRS - it’s a universal language of business finance!

Important components of IFRS statements

IFRS financial statements are a type of financial report that businesses prepare according to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These standards ensure consistency and transparency across all international businesses. Now, let’s dive into an example.

IFRS financial statements are a part of this international standard. They are designed to maintain consistency and understandability across international boundaries. To provide a snapshot, here’s what they generally include:

  • Statement of Financial Position: This is essentially a company’s balance sheet.
  • Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income: This includes a company’s profit or loss calculations and comprehensive income.
  • Statement of Changes in Equity: Records changes in a company’s equity.
  • Statement of Cash Flows: Details a company’s cash flow activities, namely its operating, investing and financing activities.

An example in action

Imagine you’re an investor looking at two separate businesses - one based in the U.S. and another in Germany. Without a standard like IFRS, comparing these two businesses could feel like comparing apples to oranges. But with IFRS, both businesses adhere to the same reporting standards, making your job much easier.

With this understanding, you can better navigate your company’s financial landscape or make informed investing decisions. IFRS isn’t just a bunch of accounting jargon - it’s a tool for better business operation and growth.

IFRS and revenue recognition: A harmony of financial reporting

Let’s envision a scenario where you’re at a baseball game, immersed in the thrilling atmosphere. The team generates earnings from a variety of sources - ticket sales, concessions, and merchandise. Each of these constitutes a different stream of revenue. Now, transpose this scenario to the world of business. Here, IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), acting as the financial umpire, provides a set of guidelines on how these revenues should be recognized and reported. It’s like a rulebook for financial reporting, ensuring that the home run is called out exactly when it is, no sooner, no later.

Revenue recognition under IFRS

Under the IFRS framework, revenue is recognized when it is probable that the economic benefits will flow to the company, and the revenue value can be reliably measured. This might sound like financial jargon, but essentially, it’s all about ensuring that you’re not being overly optimistic and counting your chickens before they’ve hatched. It’s a way to paint a crystal-clear, accurate representation of your business’s financial health.

“IFRS revenue recognition principles ensure that the financial picture of a company is not only accurate but also reliable, providing a level-playing field for businesses worldwide.”

So, next time you’re watching a baseball game, consider how each run scored, every hot dog sold, and each cap bought, all follow a similar principle in businesses across the globe - they’re all recognized and reported under the watchful eyes of IFRS.

IFRS and asset valuation, equity and liabilities

Understanding how IFRS works is like learning a new language - the language of international finance. One of the key aspects of IFRS is how it affects asset valuation, equity, and liabilities. Let’s dive in and explore these terms.

IFRS & asset valuation

Under IFRS, assets are typically valued at their fair value. This means the asset’s estimated market price. So if you own a warehouse valued at 1 million dollars last year, and this year the market price is 1.2 million, then congrats! Your asset valuation just increased.

IFRS & equity

Equity under IFRS is the residual interest in the assets of the entity after deducting liabilities. Essentially, if you sold all your assets and paid off all your liabilities, what’s left is your equity. It’s your company’s net worth.

IFRS & liabilities

IFRS defines liabilities as present obligations that are expected to result in an outflow of resources embodying economic benefits. In simple terms, these are what your company owes to others - like loans or accounts payable.

For instance, imagine your business, ‘Bakery Bliss’, owns a property valued at $500,000 and has liabilities of $200,000. According to IFRS, your equity would be $300,000 ($500,000 - $200,000). If the market price of your property increases to $600,000, your equity would also rise to $400,000 ($600,000 - $200,000).

How IFRS works with GAAP and FASB

The International financial reporting Standards (IFRS) work in close collaboration with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the body that develops the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States. This collaboration aims to establish a single set of high-quality, globally accepted accounting standards.

While the IFRS and GAAP have their differences, they share the common goal of ensuring transparency, accountability, and efficiency in financial markets. Over the years, both the IFRS and FASB have been working towards convergence of their standards to simplify global accounting practices.

Despite these convergence efforts, it’s important for businesses to understand the key differences between IFRS and GAAP, as these can impact financial reporting, especially for companies operating in multiple countries.

IFRS and financial reporting challenges

IFRS, while being a global standard, has faced its fair share of challenges. The most prominent ones include the difficulty in accommodating the diverse accounting practices across various countries, and the complexity of implementing these standards in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Looking ahead, the International financial reporting Standards Foundation has a strategic plan in place. This includes the expansion of non-financial reporting and the constant evolution of IFRS standards to meet the changes in the business world. With an eye on the future, IFRS is aiming to make financial reporting more transparent and globally comparable.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
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