IFRS 9 Section B Definitions

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Guidance on implementing IFRS 9 Section B Definitions

IFRS 9 Financial Instruments

This guidance accompanies, but is not part of, IFRS 9. The numbers used for the questions are carried forward to IFRS 9 from the implementation guidance accompanying IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement.

B.1 Definition of a financial instrument: gold bullion

Is gold bullion a financial instrument (like cash) or is it a commodity?

It is a commodity. Although bullion is highly liquid, there is no contractual right to receive cash or another financial asset inherent in bullion.

B.2 Definition of a derivative: examples of derivatives and underlyings

What are examples of common derivative contracts and the identified underlying?

IFRS 9 defines a derivative as follows:

A derivative is a financial instrument or other contract within the scope of this Standard with all three of the following characteristics:

  1. Its value changes in response to the change in a specified interest rate, financial instrument price, commodity price, foreign exchange rate, index of prices or rates, credit rating or credit index, or other variable, provided in the case of a nonfinancial variable that the variable is not specific to a party to the contract (sometimes called the ‘underlying’).
  2. It requires no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors.
  3. It is settled at a future date.
Type of contractMain pricing-settlement variable (underlying variable)
Interest rate swapInterest rates
Currency swap (foreign exchange swap)Currency rates
Commodity swapCommodity prices
Equity swapEquity prices (equity of another entity)
Credit swapCredit rating, credit index or credit price
Total return swapTotal fair value of the reference asset and interest rates
Purchased or written treasury bond option (call or put)Interest rates
Purchased or written currency option (call or put)Currency rates
Purchased or written commodity option (call or put)Commodity prices
Purchased or written stock option (call or put)Equity prices (equity of another entity)
Interest rate futures linked to government debt (treasury futures)Interest rates
Currency futuresCurrency rates
Commodity futuresCommodity prices
Interest rate forward linked to government debt (treasury forward)Interest rates
Currency forwardCurrency rates
Commodity forwardCommodity prices
Equity forwardEquity prices (equity of another entity)

The above list provides examples of contracts that normally qualify as derivatives under IFRS 9. The list is not exhaustive. Any contract that has an underlying may be a derivative. Moreover, even if an instrument meets the definition of a derivative contract, special provisions may apply, for example, if it is a weather derivative (see paragraph B2.1 of IFRS 9), a contract to buy or sell a non-financial item such as commodity (see paragraphs 2.5–2.7 and BA.2 of IFRS 9) or a contract settled in an entity’s own shares (see paragraphs 21–24 of IAS 32). Therefore, an entity must evaluate the contract to determine whether the other characteristics of a derivative are present and whether special provisions apply.

B.3 Definition of a derivative: settlement at a future date, interest rate swap with net or gross settlement

For the purpose of determining whether an interest rate swap is a derivative financial instrument under IFRS 9, does it make a difference whether the parties pay the interest payments to each other (gross settlement) or settle on a net basis?

No. The definition of a derivative does not depend on gross or net settlement.

To illustrate: Entity ABC enters into an interest rate swap with a counterparty (XYZ) that requires ABC to pay a fixed rate of 8 per cent and receive a variable amount based on three-month LIBOR, reset on a quarterly basis. The fixed and variable amounts are determined on the basis of a CU100 million notional amount. ABC and XYZ do not exchange the notional amount. ABC pays or receives a net cash amount each quarter based on the difference between 8 per cent and three-month LIBOR. Alternatively, settlement may be on a gross basis.

The contract meets the definition of a derivative regardless of whether there is net or gross settlement because its value changes in response to changes in an underlying variable (LIBOR), there is no initial net investment, and settlements occur at future dates.

B.4 Definition of a derivative: prepaid interest rate swap (fixed rate payment obligation prepaid at inception or subsequently)

If a party prepays its obligation under a pay-fixed, receive-variable interest rate swap at inception, is the swap a derivative financial instrument?

Yes. To illustrate: Entity S enters into a CU100 million notional amount five-year pay-fixed, receive-variable interest rate swap with Counterparty C. The interest rate of the variable part of the swap is reset on a quarterly basis to three-month LIBOR. The interest rate of the fixed part of the swap is 10 per cent per year.

Entity S prepays its fixed obligation under the swap of CU50 million (CU100 million × 10% × 5 years) at inception, discounted using market interest rates, while retaining the right to receive interest payments on the CU100 million reset quarterly based on three-month LIBOR over the life of the swap.

The initial net investment in the interest rate swap is significantly less than the notional amount on which the variable payments under the variable leg will be calculated. The contract requires an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors, such as a variable rate bond. Therefore, the contract fulfils the ‘no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors’ provision of IFRS 9. Even though Entity S has no future performance obligation, the ultimate settlement of the contract is at a future date and the value of the contract changes in response to changes in the LIBOR index. Accordingly, the contract is regarded as a derivative contract.

Would the answer change if the fixed rate payment obligation is prepaid subsequent to initial recognition?

If the fixed leg is prepaid during the term, that would be regarded as a termination of the old swap and an origination of a new instrument that is evaluated under IFRS 9.

B.5 Definition of a derivative: prepaid pay-variable, receive-fixed interest rate swap

If a party prepays its obligation under a pay-variable, receive-fixed interest rate swap at inception of the contract or subsequently, is the swap a derivative financial instrument?

No. A prepaid pay-variable, receive-fixed interest rate swap is not a derivative if it is prepaid at inception and it is no longer a derivative if it is prepaid after inception because it provides a return on the prepaid (invested) amount comparable to the return on a debt instrument with fixed cash flows. The prepaid amount fails the ‘no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors’ criterion of a derivative.

To illustrate: Entity S enters into a CU100 million notional amount five-year pay-variable, receive-fixed interest rate swap with Counterparty C. The variable leg of the swap is reset on a quarterly basis to three-month LIBOR. The fixed interest payments under the swap are calculated as 10 per cent times the swap’s notional amount, ie CU10 million per year. Entity S prepays its obligation under the variable leg of the swap at inception at current market rates, while retaining the right to receive fixed interest payments of 10 per cent on CU100 million per year.

The cash inflows under the contract are equivalent to those of a financial instrument with a fixed annuity stream since Entity S knows it will receive CU10 million per year over the life of the swap. Therefore, all else being equal, the initial investment in the contract should equal that of other financial instruments that consist of fixed annuities. Thus, the initial net investment in the pay-variable, receive-fixed interest rate swap is equal to the investment required in a non-derivative contract that has a similar response to changes in market conditions. For this reason, the instrument fails the ‘no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors’ criterion of IFRS 9.

Therefore, the contract is not accounted for as a derivative under IFRS 9. By discharging the obligation to pay variable interest rate payments, Entity S in effect provides a loan to Counterparty C.

B.6 Definition of a derivative: offsetting loans

Entity A makes a five-year fixed rate loan to Entity B, while B at the same time makes a five-year variable rate loan for the same amount to A. There are no transfers of contractual par amount at inception of the two loans, since A and B have a netting agreement. Is this a derivative under IFRS 9?

Yes. This meets the definition of a derivative (that is to say, there is an underlying variable, no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors, and future settlement).

The contractual effect of the loans is the equivalent of an interest rate swap arrangement with no initial net investment. Non-derivative transactions are aggregated and treated as a derivative when the transactions result, in substance, in a derivative. Indicators of this would include:

  • they are entered into at the same time and in contemplation of one another
  • they have the same counterparty
  • they relate to the same risk
  • there is no apparent economic need or substantive business purpose for structuring the transactions separately that could not also have been accomplished in a single transaction.

The same answer would apply if Entity A and Entity B did not have a netting agreement, because the definition of a derivative instrument in IFRS 9 does not require net settlement.

B.7 Definition of a derivative: option not expected to be exercised

The definition of a derivative in IFRS 9 requires that the instrument ‘is settled at a future date’. Is this criterion met even if an option is expected not to be exercised, for example, because it is out of the money?

Yes. An option is settled upon exercise or at its maturity. Expiry at maturity is a form of settlement even though there is no additional exchange of consideration.

B.8 Definition of a derivative: foreign currency contract based on sales volume

Entity XYZ, whose functional currency is the US dollar, sells products in France denominated in euro. XYZ enters into a contract with an investment bank to convert euro to US dollars at a fixed exchange rate. The contract requires XYZ to remit euro based on its sales volume in France in exchange for US dollars at a fixed exchange rate of 6.00. Is that contract a derivative?

Yes. The contract has two underlying variables (the foreign exchange rate and the volume of sales), no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors, and a payment provision. IFRS 9 does not exclude from its scope derivatives that are based on sales volume.

B.9 Definition of a derivative: prepaid forward

An entity enters into a forward contract to purchase shares of stock in one year at the forward price. It prepays at inception based on the current price of the shares. Is the forward contract a derivative?

No. The forward contract fails the ‘no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors’ test for a derivative.

To illustrate: Entity XYZ enters into a forward contract to purchase 1 million T ordinary shares in one year. The current market price of T is CU50 per share; the one-year forward price of T is CU55 per share. XYZ is required to prepay the forward contract at inception with a CU50 million payment. The initial investment in the forward contract of CU50 million is less than the notional amount applied to the underlying, 1 million shares at the forward price of CU55 per share, ie CU55 million. However, the initial net investment approximates the investment that would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors because T’s shares could be purchased at inception for the same price of CU50. Accordingly, the prepaid forward contract does not meet the initial net investment criterion of a derivative instrument.

B.10 Definition of a derivative: initial net investment

Many derivative instruments, such as futures contracts and exchange traded written options, require margin accounts. Is the margin account part of the initial net investment?

No. The margin account is not part of the initial net investment in a derivative instrument. Margin accounts are a form of collateral for the counterparty or clearing house and may take the form of cash, securities or other specified assets, typically liquid assets. Margin accounts are separate assets that are accounted for separately.

B.11 Definition of held for trading: portfolio with a recent actual pattern of short-term profit-taking

The definition of a financial asset or financial liability held for trading states that ‘a financial asset or financial liability is classified as held for trading if it is … part of a portfolio of identified financial instruments that are managed together and for which there is evidence of a recent actual pattern of short-term profit-taking’. What is a ‘portfolio’ for the purposes of applying this definition?

Although the term ‘portfolio’ is not explicitly defined in IFRS 9, the context in which it is used suggests that a portfolio is a group of financial assets or financial liabilities that are managed as part of that group (Appendix A of IFRS 9). If there is evidence of a recent actual pattern of short-term profit-taking on financial instruments included in such a portfolio, those financial instruments qualify as held for trading even though an individual financial instrument may in fact be held for a longer period of time.

B.24 Definition of gross carrying amount: perpetual debt instruments with fixed or market-based variable rate

Sometimes entities purchase or issue debt instruments that are required to be measured at amortised cost and in respect of which the issuer has no obligation to repay the gross carrying amount. The interest rate may be fixed or variable. Would the difference between the initial amount paid or received and zero (‘the maturity amount’) be amortised immediately on initial recognition for the purpose of determining amortised cost if the rate of interest is fixed or specified as a market-based variable rate?

No. Since there are no repayment of the gross carrying amount, there is no amortisation of the difference between the initial amount and the maturity amount if the rate of interest is fixed or specified as a market-based variable rate. Because interest payments are fixed or market-based and will be paid in perpetuity, the amortised cost (the present value of the stream of future cash payments discounted at the effective interest rate) equals the gross carrying amount in each period.

B.25 Definition of gross carrying amount: perpetual debt instruments with decreasing interest rate

If the stated rate of interest on a perpetual debt instrument decreases over time, would the gross carrying amount equal the contractual par amount in each period?

No. From an economic perspective, some or all of the contractual interest payments are repayments of the gross carrying amount. For example, the interest rate may be stated as 16 per cent for the first 10 years and as zero per cent in subsequent periods. In that case, the initial amount is amortised to zero over the first 10 years using the effective interest method, since a portion of the contractual interest payments represents repayments of the gross carrying amount. The gross carrying amount is zero after Year 10 because the present value of the stream of future cash payments in subsequent periods is zero (there are no further contractual cash payments in subsequent periods).

B.26 Example of calculating the gross carrying amount: financial asset

How is the gross carrying amount calculated for financial assets measured at amortised cost in accordance with IFRS 9?

The gross carrying amount is calculated using the effective interest method. The effective interest rate inherent in a financial instrument is the rate that exactly discounts the estimated cash flows associated with the financial instrument through the expected life of the instrument or, where appropriate, a shorter period to the net carrying amount at initial recognition. The computation includes all fees and points paid or received that are an integral part of the effective interest rate, directly attributable transaction costs and all other premiums or discounts.

The following example illustrates how the gross carrying amount is calculated using the effective interest method. Entity A purchases a debt instrument with five years remaining to maturity for its fair value of CU1,000 (including transaction costs). The instrument has a contractual par amount of CU1,250 and carries fixed interest of 4.7 per cent that is paid annually (CU1,250 × 4.7% = CU59 per year). The contract also specifies that the borrower has an option to prepay the instrument at par and that no penalty will be charged for prepayment. At inception, the entity expects the borrower not to prepay (and, therefore, the entity determines that the fair value of the prepayment feature is insignificant when the financial asset is initially recognised).

It can be shown that in order to allocate interest receipts and the initial discount over the term of the debt instrument at a constant rate on the carrying amount, they must be accrued at the rate of 10 per cent annually. The table below provides information about the gross carrying amount, interest revenue and cash flows of the debt instrument in each reporting period.

On the first day of 20X2 the entity revises its estimate of cash flows. It now expects that 50 per cent of the contractual par amount will be prepaid at the end of 20X2 and the remaining 50 per cent at the end of 20X4. In accordance with paragraph B5.4.6 of IFRS 9, the gross carrying amount of the debt instrument in 20X2 is adjusted. The gross carrying amount is recalculated by discounting the amount the entity expects to receive in 20X2 and subsequent years using the original effective interest rate (10 per cent). This results in the new gross carrying amount in 20X2 of CU1,138. The adjustment of CU52 (CU1,138 – CU1,086) is recorded in profit or loss in 20X2. The table below provides information about the gross carrying amount, interest revenue and cash flows as they would be adjusted taking into account the change in estimate.

B.27 Example of calculating the gross carrying amount: debt instruments with stepped interest payments

Sometimes entities purchase or issue debt instruments with a predetermined rate of interest that increases or decreases progressively (‘stepped interest’) over the term of the debt instrument. If a debt instrument with stepped interest is issued at CU1,250 and has a maturity amount of CU1,250, would the gross carrying amount equal CU1,250 in each reporting period over the term of the debt instrument?

No. Although there is no difference between the initial amount and maturity amount, an entity uses the effective interest method to allocate interest payments over the term of the debt instrument to achieve a constant rate on the carrying amount.

The following example illustrates how the gross carrying amount is calculated using the effective interest method for an instrument with a predetermined rate of interest that increases or decreases over the term of the debt instrument (‘stepped interest’).

On 1 January 20X0, Entity A issues a debt instrument for a price of CU1,250. The contractual par amount is CU1,250 and the debt instrument is repayable on 31 December 20X4. The rate of interest is specified in the debt agreement as a percentage of the contractual par amount as follows: 6.0 per cent in 20X0 (CU75), 8.0 per cent in 20X1 (CU100), 10.0 per cent in 20X2 (CU125), 12.0 per cent in 20X3 (CU150), and 16.4 per cent in 20X4 (CU205). In this case, the interest rate that exactly discounts the stream of future cash payments through maturity is 10 per cent. Therefore, cash interest payments are reallocated over the term of the debt instrument for the purposes of determining the gross carrying amount in each period. In each period, the gross carrying amount at the beginning of the period is multiplied by the effective interest rate of 10 per cent and added to the gross carrying amount. Any cash payments in the period are deducted from the resulting number. Accordingly, the gross carrying amount in each period is as follows:

B.28 Regular way contracts: no established market

Can a contract to purchase a financial asset be a regular way contract if there is no established market for trading such a contract?

Yes. IFRS 9 refers to terms that require delivery of the asset within the time frame established generally by regulation or convention in the marketplace concerned. Marketplace is not limited to a formal stock exchange or organised over-the-counter market. Instead, it means the environment in which the financial asset is customarily exchanged. An acceptable time frame would be the period reasonably and customarily required for the parties to complete the transaction and prepare and execute closing documents.

For example, a market for private issue financial instruments can be a marketplace.

B.29 Regular way contracts: forward contract

Entity ABC enters into a forward contract to purchase 1 million of M’s ordinary shares in two months for CU10 per share. The contract is with an individual and is not an exchange-traded contract. The contract requires ABC to take physical delivery of the shares and pay the counterparty CU10 million in cash. M’s shares trade in an active public market at an average of 100,000 shares a day. Regular way delivery is three days. Is the forward contract regarded as a regular way contract?

No. The contract must be accounted for as a derivative because it is not settled in the way established by regulation or convention in the marketplace concerned.

B.30 Regular way contracts: which customary settlement provisions apply?

If an entity’s financial instruments trade in more than one active market, and the settlement provisions differ in the various active markets, which provisions apply in assessing whether a contract to purchase those financial instruments is a regular way contract?

The provisions that apply are those in the market in which the purchase actually takes place. To illustrate: Entity XYZ purchases 1 million shares of Entity ABC on a US stock exchange, for example, through a broker. The settlement date of the contract is six business days later. Trades for equity shares on US exchanges customarily settle in three business days. Because the trade settles in six business days, it does not meet the exemption as a regular way trade.

However, if XYZ did the same transaction on a foreign exchange that has a customary settlement period of six business days, the contract would meet the exemption for a regular way trade.

B.31 Regular way contracts: share purchase by call option

Entity A purchases a call option in a public market permitting it to purchase 100 shares of Entity XYZ at any time over the next three months at a price of CU100 per share. If Entity A exercises its option, it has 14 days to settle the transaction according to regulation or convention in the options market. XYZ shares are traded in an active public market that requires three-day settlement. Is the purchase of shares by exercising the option a regular way purchase of shares?

Yes. The settlement of an option is governed by regulation or convention in the marketplace for options and, therefore, upon exercise of the option it is no longer accounted for as a derivative because settlement by delivery of the shares within 14 days is a regular way transaction.

B.32 Recognition and derecognition of financial liabilities using trade date or settlement date accounting

IFRS 9 has special rules about recognition and derecognition of financial assets using trade date or settlement date accounting. Do these rules apply to transactions in financial instruments that are classified as financial liabilities, such as transactions in deposit liabilities and trading liabilities?

No. IFRS 9 does not contain any specific requirements about trade date accounting and settlement date accounting in the case of transactions in financial instruments that are classified as financial liabilities. Therefore, the general recognition and derecognition requirements in paragraphs 3.1.1 and 3.3.1 of IFRS 9 apply. Paragraph 3.1.1 of IFRS 9 states that financial liabilities are recognised on the date the entity ‘becomes a party to the contractual provisions of the instrument’. Such contracts generally are not recognised unless one of the parties has performed or the contract is a derivative contract not exempted from the scope of IFRS 9. Paragraph 3.3.1 of IFRS 9 specifies that financial liabilities are derecognised only when they are extinguished, ie when the obligation specified in the contract is discharged or cancelled or expires.

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IFRS 9 Section B Definitions