FRS 102 Financial Instruments

The key changes to UK GAAP Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) with the introduction of Financial Reporting Standards 102 (FRS 102).


For accounting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2015, current UK GAAP has been replaced by a single standard. The transition requires all UK companies’ financial information to be prepared in accordance with FRS 102. The only exceptions will be those applying International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Financial Reporting Standard for Smaller Entities (FRSSE).

Below is a summary of the key changes to accounting for financial instruments under the new standard.

Financial instruments

A financial instrument is a contract that gives rise to a financial asset in one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument of another entity. Common financial instruments would include cash, trade debtors and interest rate swaps.

FRS 102 classifies financial instruments as either basic financial instruments or other financial instruments. The accounting treatment varies according to the classification.

Basic financial instruments are defined as one of the following:

  • cash
  • a debt instrument (such as accounts receivable and payable)
  • commitment to receive a loan that satisfy certain criteria
  • investments in non-convertible preference shares, and non puttable ordinary shares.

All other financial instruments are classed as other financial instruments and treated accordingly.

Common examples of other financial instruments are:

  • investments in convertible preference shares, or in convertible debt
  • interest rate swaps
  • options and forwards contracts for the purchase of commodities or foreign currencies.

The definitions of basic financial instruments were updated by the FRC in August 2014.This broadened the types of debt instrument that; would qualify as basic financial instruments, as the previous definitions were considered too restrictive.

Basic financial instruments

Basic financial instruments are initially accounted for at their transaction price except for financing transactions (such as certain debt instruments) which are measured at the present value of the future payments discounted using a market rate of interest. Subsequently, basic financial instruments are measured as follows:

  1. Debt instruments shall be measured using the effective interest method. For debt instruments expected to be settled within one year, they shall be measured at the undiscounted amount of cash expected to be received or paid. Interest free loans may require fair value adjustments. As an accounting policy choice, an entity may choose to measure debt instruments at fair value with changes in fair value recognised in the profit and loss account.
  2. Investments in publicly traded non-convertible preference shares, and non-puttable ordinary shares, shall be measured at fair value with changes in fair value recognised in the profit and loss account.
  3. Commitments to make or receive a loan shall be measured at cost less impairment. With the exception of the requirement to fair value, certain publicly traded investments, FRS 102 will not result in a change in how most entities value basic financial instruments.
Other financial instruments

All other financial instruments are initially recognised at fair value, which is normally the transaction price. Other financial instruments are subsequently measured at fair value with any changes in the fair value recorded in the profit and loss account.

For many businesses with other financial instruments, such as interest rate swaps or forward foreign currency contracts, FRS 102 will mean that they are included on balance sheet for the first time and will have a direct impact on reported profits.

Hedge accounting

In certain circumstances, hedge accounting may be applied to ensure that the gain or loss on a hedged item and a hedged instrument are recognised at the same time. In order to apply hedge accounting, which can reduce volatility in reported results, the following rules must be met:

  • the entity has documented and clearly identified the risk being hedged, the hedged item and the hedging instrument, together with potential reasons the hedge may be ineffective
  • the hedging relationship is consistent with the entity’s risk management objectives for hedging
  • there is an economic relationship between the hedged item and the hedging instrument.

The revisions to FRS 102 published in August 2014 removed the requirement for a hedge to be highly effective.

The rules for hedge accounting as complex and many commercial hedges may not meet the accounting definitions.