"One of the most serious dangers in the whole process of moving companies to International Financial reporting Standards is that the markets and other users simply will not understand the information they receive"
An Introduction to The Complete Guide to IFRS
Accounting, used in this context to mean the recording and presentation of business events in traditional financial statements (the balance sheet and profit & loss account), is seen by many to be an exact science.
For many accountants, rules (though not all written down), convention and practice mean that events will always be recorded correctly and presented fairly. However there are genuine differences in opinion as to both how events may be recorded and presented. There is also the possibility of distorting both the recording and the presentation. Finally there is the question of what transactions and events should be included in each set of financial statements.
Thus there are fundamental reasons for the existence and application of accounting standards. There is the need for consistency throughout the business world, the prevention of misleading presentation and disclosure of events.
Purpose of this text
The purpose of this text is to explain in as clear and simple terms as possible the principles of extant International Accounting Standards (IAS). These are being re-titled International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as new Standards are introduced. The reasons for accounting standards are explained under the background to standards.
The text is aimed at: anyone in business who has to interface with published accounts and internal reports; anyone who is responsible for reports that are affected by or lead to published accounts. As never before, professional advisers, directors and executive officers from functions other than finance are affected by the requirements of accounting standards. Accountants and students of accountancy will also find this text useful as a summary of accounting standards, as it cuts through to exactly what the standards aim to achieve and thus what has to be accounted for and disclosed.
Method of study and order of the sections
This text is not a re-write of the standards but rather summarises the issues which give rise to the standard practice, explaining the accounting and disclosure requirements and practical problems of compliance. For those who wish to review financial statements, terminology and measures there are chapters covering; the format and content of principal financial statements, commonly used performance measures and how these can be distorted by improper accounting practice. Even accountants who are used to such matters may find these chapters a good reminder of some of the essentially simple issues with which accounting standards aim to deal.
Read the Free Chapter "Borrowing Costs - IAS 23"