5 minutes

Shaping the Future of Accounting with IFRS 18


The world of accounting is on the brink of a transformative shift with the introduction of the International Financial Reporting Standard, also known as IFRS 18 Presentation and Disclosure in the Financial Statements. This new standard is expected to be issued in April 2024 and will be effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2027. It promises to revolutionize the way businesses recognize and account for revenue, marking a significant departure from previous methodologies. In this article, we will explore the key implications of IFRS 18 and how it stands to reshape the landscape of financial reporting. 

IFRS 18: Who would be most affected by this? 

The implementation of IFRS 18 will reverberate across diverse industries, influencing stakeholders at every level. This accounting standard will not only reshape how entities present and disclose financial information in their statements but also significantly impact the depth and breadth of information accessible to investors. 

Moreover, it will expand the scope of information subject to scrutiny and assurance by auditors, necessitating a comprehensive reassessment of reporting practices and disclosure frameworks across the board. Thus, the implications of IFRS 18 extend far beyond mere accounting adjustments, with ramifications reaching into strategic decision-making, investor confidence, and regulatory compliance within the global financial landscape. 

IFRS 18: Why is the switch required? 

The primary objective of IFRS 18 revolves around enhancing the comparability of financial performance across entities operating in diverse industries. This standard aims to mitigate discrepancies in the presentation of financial data, particularly evident in the statement of profit or loss.  

Entities often supplement their financial statements with management financial performance measures, which may diverge from statutory profit measures and are disclosed outside the formal financial reporting framework. By addressing these inconsistencies and fostering greater uniformity in financial reporting practices, IFRS 18 endeavors to facilitate more accurate comparisons of entities’ financial performance within and across industries

IFRS 18: Which areas are experiencing pivotal changes? 

IFRS 18 brings a significant shift in financial reporting standards, poised to replace its predecessor, IAS 1, with a comprehensive framework designed to address longstanding concerns in three pivotal areas.  

One of its primary objectives is to enhance the clarity and comparability of financial performance, responding directly to investor apprehensions regarding the difficulty of making meaningful comparisons across different entities. By outlining specific categories including “Operating,” “Investing,” and “Financing,” as well as introducing two new subtotals, “Operating profit or loss” and “Profit or loss before financing and income tax,” within the Statement of Profit or Loss, the standard endeavors to instill consistency across financial statements, thereby enabling stakeholders to obtain valuable insights with greater ease and accuracy. 

Furthermore, IFRS 18 seeks to rectify the unclear nature of Management defined Performance Measures (MPMs), a critical aspect of financial reporting often criticized for its lack of transparency. Through firm requirements mandating the definition and auditing of these measures, the standard aims to foster a culture of accountability and reliability, ensuring that stakeholders have access to clear and consistent information regarding the calculation and interpretation of MPMs. By shedding light on these previously unclear metrics, the standard not only enhances transparency but also bolsters investor confidence in the reliability of reported financial data. 

Moreover, IFRS 18 introduces comprehensive guidelines on grouping information, a crucial aspect of providing stakeholders with a deeper understanding of a company’s financial position and performance. It introduces enhanced requirements for categorizing and disclosing operating expenses, along with guidance on determining whether specific data should be included in the primary financial statements or detailed in the notes. A key focus is providing clearer rules for labeling and explaining items classified as “others,” ensuring stakeholders receive a transparent and well-organized depiction of a company’s financial position and operational performance. By offering enhanced guidance on when and how information should be grouped within financial statements or accompanying notes, the standard facilitates a better portrayal of a company’s operations and financial health.  

This concerted effort to furnish stakeholders with detailed and informative disclosures underscores the standard’s overarching goal of facilitating better decision-making through increased comparability, transparency, and the overall utility of financial information. IFRS 18 represents a significant milestone in the evolution of financial reporting standards, bound to usher in a new era of clarity and reliability in corporate disclosures. 

IFRS 18: How are incomes and expenses classified? 

IFRS 18 mandates a significant change in the classification of income and expenses within profit or loss, introducing five distinct categories: investing, financing, income tax, discontinued operations, and operating. Unlike current standards, which lack such specificity, this framework aims to enhance consistency in financial reporting. 

However, there is no explicit alignment between these categories and those in the statement of cash flows, as required by IAS 7. Entities must assess their main business activities to determine classification, potentially resulting in divergent classifications among entities. For instance, a manufacturer investing in publicly traded shares would classify income as investment, while a bank actively trading shares may classify such income as operating due to its core business activity. 

IFRS 18: What outcome could this have for statements of profit and loss? 

IFRS 18 mandates the inclusion of two new compulsory sub-totals in the statement of profit or loss alongside those required by IAS 1. These are:  

  • operating profit or loss, which encompasses the entirety of a company’s operating revenues and costs, is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the profitability and financial performance stemming directly from its core business activities;  
  • Profit or loss before financing and income tax, which comprises operating profit or loss and all investing-related income and expenses. It aims to give an overview of a company’s performance prior to its financing impacts. 

IFRS 18: How would the foreign exchange differences be classified? 

Foreign exchange differences are classified based on their underlying transactions: differences in receivables for the sale of goods are categorized as operating expenses, aligning with the company’s core operations. Conversely, fluctuations in cash and cash equivalents are grouped under investing activities, reflecting their role as investment instruments. Foreign exchange fluctuations on debt issued in foreign currencies are categorized as financing expenses. reflecting the impact of the company’s financing activities and capital structure. 

When dealing with other liabilities, classification may depend on judgment; however, if the process of classification is overly burdensome, they default to the operating category. Gain or loss on the net monetary position is typically classified within operating expenses, unless the company opts to present it alongside income and expenses related to the net monetary position. 

In summary, foreign exchange differences are sorted into categories reflecting their originating transactions, with receivables, cash equivalents, and debt each assigned to specific categories. Other liabilities may be categorized based on judgment, or if classification proves overly burdensome, they are placed in the operating category. Similarly, gains or losses on the net monetary position are primarily classified within operating expenses, although alternative presentation options may be chosen by the company. 

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What is the scope of IFRS 18?

With its comprehensive guidelines, IFRS 18 endeavors to enrich the transparency and utility of financial disclosures, empowering stakeholders with a clearer understanding of a company's financial standing.

Does IFRS 18 represent good news for investors?

IFRS 18 presents a positive development for investors by enhancing the alignment between financial reporting and equity analysis methodologies. The new standard mandates the provision of additional and more comparable data, which should facilitate investors' analytical processes. Notably, the increased disclosure requirements under IFRS 18 will provide data points that can aid investors in forecasting company performance and assessing potential risks more effectively.

In essence, IFRS 18 aims to bridge the gap between financial reporting and the information needs of investors conducting equity analysis, offering them a more comprehensive and standardized dataset to support their decision-making processes.

Are there specific disclosure requirements under IFRS 18?

Yes, IFRS 18 entities will be required to disclose information about management-defined performance measures in a single note to the financial statements.

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