Financial Accounting Financial Reporting Financial Statements

Financial Instruments Classification and Measurement

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Financial Instruments Classification and Measurement

In today’s intricate financial landscape, understanding the classification and measurement of financial instruments is crucial for investors, accountants, and financial professionals. Financial instruments, essentially contracts that give rise to both a financial asset of one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument of another entity, are pivotal in the world of finance.

Introduction to Financial Instruments

A financial instrument is any contract that results in a financial asset for one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument for another. These include cash, an ownership interest in an entity, or a contractual right to receive or deliver cash or another financial instrument. Understanding how these instruments are classified and measured is key to accurate financial reporting and investment decision-making.

Classification of Financial Instruments

Under IFRS, financial instruments are classified based on their characteristics and the entity’s business model for managing them. The main categories include:

Financial Assets at Amortized Cost:

These are non-derivative financial assets held within a business model whose objective is to hold financial assets in order to collect contractual cash flows, and the contractual terms of the financial assets give rise on specified dates to cash flows that are solely payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding.

Financial Assets at Fair Value through Other Comprehensive Income (FVOCI):

This category includes debt investments that are held in a business model whose objective is achieved by both collecting contractual cash flows and selling financial assets, and the contractual cash flows of the asset meet the “solely payments of principal and interest” criterion.

Financial Assets at Fair Value through Profit or Loss (FVPL):

This classification is for financial assets that are held in a business model not covered by the first two categories or do not meet the “solely payments of principal and interest” criterion. It also includes derivative assets.

Similarly, financial liabilities are classified as either:

Financial Liabilities at Amortized Cost:

Most financial liabilities fall into this category, including bank loans, trade payables, and other typical liabilities.

Financial Liabilities at FVPL:

This includes derivatives and other financial liabilities held for trading.

Measurement of Financial Instruments

The initial measurement of financial instruments under IFRS involves recording the instrument at its fair value plus or minus, in the case of a financial asset or financial liability not at FVPL, transaction costs that are directly attributable to the acquisition or issue of the financial asset or financial liability.

 Subsequent Measurement

Amortized Cost:

For financial assets and liabilities measured at amortized cost, this involves the effective interest method, a method of calculating the amortized cost of a financial asset or liability and allocating the interest income or expense over the relevant period.

Fair Value:

Fair value measurement reflects changes in market conditions, interest rates, credit risk, and other factors. Financial instruments at FVPL are measured at fair value, with gains and losses recognized in profit or loss. For FVOCI financial assets, gains and losses due to changes in fair value are recognized in other comprehensive income.

 Impairment of Financial Assets

IFRS 9 introduces a new impairment model based on expected credit losses, replacing the incurred loss model of IAS 39. This model requires entities to recognize an allowance for expected credit losses for all financial assets not held at FVPL, including loans, debt securities, and trade receivables.

 Hedge Accounting

Hedge accounting is another crucial aspect of financial instrument accounting. It allows entities to match the gains or losses from a hedging instrument with the exposure it is hedging in the profit and loss statement, thus reducing volatility.

 Impact on Financial Statements

The classification and measurement of financial instruments significantly impact the financial statements:

Balance Sheet:

The classification affects how assets and liabilities are presented.

Income Statement:

The measurement affects how gains and losses are recognized.

Comprehensive Income:

FVOCI movements impact other comprehensive income.

 Challenges and Considerations

The complexity of these rules and the judgment required in their application can pose challenges. Entities must carefully consider their business model and the characteristics of their financial instruments when classifying and measuring them.


The classification and measurement of financial instruments are essential components of financial reporting. They require a thorough understanding of the underlying principles and standards. As financial markets evolve, the need for clear and consistent accounting for financial instruments remains paramount, ensuring transparency and aiding decision-making processes in the financial world. This knowledge not only aids in compliance with accounting standards but also enhances the overall financial understanding necessary for sound financial management and reporting.