Posted: May 25th, 2022

The International Financial Reporting Standards


Accounting Information Systems: General Purpose Reporting According to the Conceptual Framework

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The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation and its development and publication arm, the International Accounting Standards Board, were created for the express and direct purpose of establishing standardized accounting and reporting procedures so as to make accounting knowledge and comparisons more meaningful. Since the creation of these entities, many specific issues have been raised and a host of suggestions, standards, and rules for the reporting of financial information have been adopted, such that the purpose of the Foundation and the Board are being well-served by these activities. In addition, certain general principles and regulations regarding accounting and financial reporting have been laid out, and the purpose of these principles will be discussed below.

General Reporting Principles

The IFRS Foundation and the IASB have published a framework for all of their activities that defines thee purpose and intent of all regulations, standards, and recommendations published by these entities (IASB 2008). The general purpose of this framework is clearly stated as the facilitation of “the consistent and logical formation of IFRSs [international financial reporting standards]” (IASB 2008, p. 64). This includes the “recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure requirements” of general purpose financial statements and accounting practices, which can be seen as a necessary part of the IASB’s mission (IASB 2008, p. 64).

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board, a group very similar in purpose and intent to the IFRS and the IASB though devoted to public entities rather than private corporations operating for a profit has published a similar conceptual framework for general purpose accounting and financial statement standardization (IFAC 2010). An understanding of this parallel document helps to shed some light on the purpose behind the IFRS’s own conceptual framework for general purpose accounting; as the IFAC (2010) puts it, the conceptual framework is meant to “establish and make explicit the concepts that are to be applied in developing” accounting standards and practices, in this instance for public sector entities (p. 3). The conceptual framework developed by the IFRS and IASB is similarly purposed: it defines the concepts and values of general accounting principles.

Because the framework lays out these general principles, it can be seen as a guide for the IASB in its development of future standards, whether they are specific to complex issues that arise in accounting and reporting activities, or are more general in and of themselves (Deloitte 2011). Within this framework, the purpose of the general purpose accounting standards is essentially to provide a similar guide to external entities — whether they are public sector entities, governments themselves, or private corporations (Deloitte 2011). The entire purpose of the IFRS is to ensure that accounting principles are understood and applied in the same way by all entities (or at least all entities that fall under the jurisdiction of countries that have signed onto the IFRS), and this is largely achieved through these general purpose standards.

This edifying and standardizing purpose behind the general purpose accounting principles contained in the framework can also be seen from the interpretation of these principles and this framework by entities outside the IFRS. The framework and general accounting principles are seen as a way of identifying the objectives and values of the overall accounting standards and principles developed and published by the IFRS and IASB (AARF 2010). From the actual general accounting principles published, this entity has also drawn certain other inferences that can be of use in interpreting the true purpose of these principles, such as a basic definitions of the individuals and entities that are expected to encounter and use these principles (AARF 2010). The true values and objectives that appear to be an inherent part of certain specific principles published in the framework as well as those behind the principles and framework as a whole can also be guessed at (AARF 2010).

All in all, most entities have developed their own specific understanding of the general accounting standards and principles set out in the IFRS and IASB conceptual framework (IFAC 2009). These separate understandings are heavily rooted in the general principles published by the IASB, however, and while these principles are often tweaked and developed by certain large-scale entities into more directly actionable items and recommendations, they remain standardized due to the reins applied by the general purpose accounting principles (IFAC 2009). It is through these principles and controls that the standardizations of accounting and reporting practices desired by the IFRS can actually be brought to fruition.

In addition to simply setting out prescriptions for entities to follow in their own accounting and reporting practices, in both general and specific situations, the general purpose reporting principles established by the IFRS and IASB have further applications. These principles provide guidelines and expectations for auditors and other individuals or entities that go back and examine general accounting and financial records once they are published, allowing for the standardization not only of reporting, but also in the degree and manner of accountability to which reporting entities are held (Puttlick et al. 2008). Auditing is a very important part of accounting, especially in the modern era of rampant corporate scandals and questionable accounting practices, and by establishing clear guidelines for companies as well as auditors the general purpose reporting principles and standards help to achieve a reduced likelihood of fraudulent or misleading accounting practices (Puttlick et al. 2008).


There are a variety of different objectives for the general purpose reporting principles established by the IFRS and the IASB. The most important of these objectives, however, is the standardization of overall accounting principles, values and practices. As this is the overall objective of the IFRS and IASB, it might seem somewhat obvious that this is the objective behind some of its specific publications. Hopefully the above discussion has shown, however, that even in the specific interpretations and applications of these principles, this overriding objective remains paramount.


AARF. (2010). Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting. Caulfield, Victoria, Australia: AARF.

Deloitte. (2011). Summary of international financial reporting standards. Accessed 31 March 2011.

IASB. (2008). International financial reporting standards. London: IFRS.

IFAC. (2010). Conceptual Framework Exposure Draft 1. Toronto: IFAC.

IFAC. (2009). Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities. Toronto: IFAC.

Puttick, G., van Esch, S. & Kana, S. (2008). The Principles and Practice of Auditing. Cape Town: Juta & Co.

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