IFRS – IAS 26: Accounting and reporting by retirement benefit plans

The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) released International Accounting Standard 26 (IAS 26) to address the topic of retirement benefit plans.

This can be of concern to investors as these represent obligations which must be met to former employees and must be provisioned for.

These plans can be considered Defined Benefit (typically a pension plan) or Defined Contribution (typically 401k) and based on the classification are subject to different rules. When dealing with Defined Benefit plans, the net assets of the fund must be disclosed as well a the funding policy, any potential deficit, as well as many other criteria. As the company promises a certain payout with defined benefit plans, it risks that the investments it holds will not be able to return the rate it expects and therefore will be liable to make up the difference.

IAS are principles based standards, rather than strict rules based standards that govern international accounting. IAS standards differ from IFRS standards in that they were introduced prior to 2001, whereas IFRS were produced after this date by the IASB, or the International Accounting Standards Board. When determining the hierarchy of these, the IAS is considered to be the building blocks in which the newer and more relevant IFRS are founded and therefore IFRS is more authoritative when these conflict.

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