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Financial instruments are monetary contracts between parties. They can be created, traded, modified and settled. They can be cash (currency), evidence of an ownership interest in an entity (share), or a contractual right to receive or deliver (e.g., Currency; Debt: bonds, loans; Equity: shares; Derivatives: options, futures, forwards).
A currency, in the most specific sense is money in any form when in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, especially circulating banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money in common use, especially for people in a nation. Under this definition, U.S. dollars (US$), pounds sterling (£), Australian dollars (A$), European euros (€), Russian rubles (₽) and Indian rupees (₹) are examples of currencies. These various currencies are recognized as stores of value and are traded between nations in foreign exchange markets, which determine the relative values of the different currencies. Currencies in this sense are defined by governments, and each type has limited boundaries of acceptance.
In finance, a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. The most common types of bonds include municipal bonds and corporate bonds.
In finance, a loan is the lending of money by one or more individuals, organizations, or other entities to other individuals, organizations etc. The recipient incurs a debt, and is usually liable to pay interest on that debt until it is repaid, and also to repay the principal amount borrowed.
International Accounting Standards IAS 32 and 39 define a financial instrument as "any contract that gives rise to a financial asset of one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument of another entity".
International Financial Reporting Standards, usually called IFRS, are accounting standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to provide a common global language for business affairs so that company accounts are understandable and comparable across international boundaries. They are a consequence of growing international shareholding and trade and are particularly relevant for companies with shares or securities listed on a public stock exchange. They are progressively replacing the many different national accounting standards.
IAS 39: Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement was an international accounting standard which outlined the requirements for the recognition and measurement of financial assets, financial liabilities, and some contracts to buy or sell non-financial items. It was released by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in 2003, and was replaced in 2014 by IFRS 9, which became effective in 2018.
Financial instruments may be categorized by "asset class" depending on whether they are equity-based (reflecting ownership of the issuing entity) or debt-based (reflecting a loan the investor has made to the issuing entity). If the instrument is debt it can be further categorized into short-term (less than one year) or long-term. Foreign exchange instruments and transactions are neither debt- nor equity-based and belong in their own category.
Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be an object, land or real estate, or intellectual property. Ownership involves multiple rights, collectively referred to as title, which may be separated and held by different parties.
Financial instruments can be either cash instruments or derivative instruments:
A market is one of the many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers. It can be said that a market is the process by which the prices of goods and services are established. Markets facilitate trade and enable the distribution and resource allocation in a society. Markets allow any trade-able item to be evaluated and priced. A market emerges more or less spontaneously or may be constructed deliberately by human interaction in order to enable the exchange of rights of services and goods. Markets generally supplant gift economies and are often held in place through rules and customs, such as a booth fee, competitive pricing, and source of goods for sale.
A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some countries and languages the term "security" is commonly used in day-to-day parlance to mean any form of financial instrument, even though the underlying legal and regulatory regime may not have such a broad definition. In some jurisdictions the term specifically excludes financial instruments other than equities and fixed income instruments. In some jurisdictions it includes some instruments that are close to equities and fixed income, e.g., equity warrants.
A deposit is the act of placing cash with some entity, most commonly with a financial institution such as a bank.
|Asset class||Instrument type|
|Securities||Other cash||Exchange-traded derivatives||OTC derivatives|
|Debt (long term)|
> 1 year
|Bonds||Loans||Bond futures |
Options on bond futures
| Interest rate swaps |
Interest rate caps and floors
Interest rate options
|Debt (short term)|
≤ 1 year
|Bills, e.g. T-bills |
| Deposits |
Certificates of deposit
|Short-term interest rate futures||Forward rate agreements|
|Equity||Stock||N/A||Stock options |
|Stock options |
|Foreign exchange||N/A||Spot foreign exchange||Currency futures||Foreign exchange options |
Foreign exchange swaps
Some instruments defy categorization into the above matrix, for example repurchase agreements.
A repurchase agreement, also known as a repo, RP, or sale and repurchase agreement, is a form of short-term borrowing, mainly in government securities. The dealer sells the underlying security to investors and buys them back shortly afterwards, usually the following day, at a slightly higher price.
The gain or loss on a financial instrument is as follows:
|Instrument Type||Categories||Measurement||Gains and losses|
|Assets||Loans and receivables||Amortized costs||Net income when asset is derecognized or impaired (foreign exchange and impairment recognized in net income immediately)|
|Assets||Available for sale financial assets||Deposit account – fair value||Other comprehensive income (impairment recognized in net income immediately)|
In finance, a derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying". Derivatives can be used for a number of purposes, including insuring against price movements (hedging), increasing exposure to price movements for speculation or getting access to otherwise hard-to-trade assets or markets. Some of the more common derivatives include forwards, futures, options, swaps, and variations of these such as synthetic collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Most derivatives are traded over-the-counter (off-exchange) or on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange, while most insurance contracts have developed into a separate industry. In the United States, after the financial crisis of 2007–2009, there has been increased pressure to move derivatives to trade on exchanges. Derivatives are one of the three main categories of financial instruments, the other two being stocks and debt. The oldest example of a derivative in history, attested to by Aristotle, is thought to be a contract transaction of olives, entered into by ancient Greek philosopher Thales, who made a profit in the exchange. Bucket shops, outlawed a century ago, are a more recent historical example.
A financial market is a market in which people trade financial securities and derivatives at low transaction costs. Securities include stocks and bonds, and precious metals.
Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc.
In accounting, equity is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something owned. It is governed by the following equation:
In accounting, an economic item's historical cost is the original nominal monetary value of that item. Historical cost accounting involves reporting assets and liabilities at their historical costs, which are not updated for changes in the items' values. Consequently, the amounts reported for these balance sheet items often differ from their current economic or market values.
In finance, a futures contract is a standardized forward contract, a legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, between parties not known to each other. The asset transacted is usually a commodity or financial instrument. The predetermined price the parties agree to buy and sell the asset for is known as the forward price. The specified time in the future—which is when delivery and payment occur—is known as the delivery date. Because it is a function of an underlying asset, a futures contract is a derivative product.
In finance, an equity derivative is a class of derivatives whose value is at least partly derived from one or more underlying equity securities. Options and futures are by far the most common equity derivatives, however there are many other types of equity derivatives that are actively traded.
In finance, a credit derivative refers to any one of "various instruments and techniques designed to separate and then transfer the credit risk" or the risk of an event of default of a corporate or sovereign borrower, transferring it to an entity other than the lender or debtholder.
A hedge is an investment position intended to offset potential losses or gains that may be incurred by a companion investment. A hedge can be constructed from many types of financial instruments, including stocks, exchange-traded funds, insurance, forward contracts, swaps, options, gambles, many types of over-the-counter and derivative products, and futures contracts.
ISO 10962 defines the structure and format for classification of financial instruments approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). There are many types of Financial Instruments used for saving, investing, trading, hedging and speculating. These instruments are generally organized in groups called "asset classifications." The most common asset classifications are generally described using terms like "Equities (Stocks)," "Debt (Bonds)," "Derivatives (Contracts)," "Currencies," and a few other generalized terms.
A swap is defined as a derivative in which two counterparties exchange cash flows and liabilities of one party's financial instrument for those of the other party's. The benefits in question depend on the type of financial instruments involved. For example, in the case of a swap involving two bonds, the benefits in question can be the periodic interest (coupon) payments associated with such bonds. Specifically, two counterparties agree to exchange one stream of cash flows against another stream. These streams are called the legs of the swap. The swap agreement defines the dates when the cash flows are to be paid and the way they are accrued and calculated. Usually at the time when the contract is initiated, at least one of these series of cash flows is determined by an uncertain variable such as a floating interest rate, foreign exchange rate, equity price, or commodity price.
A structured product, also known as a market-linked investment, is a pre-packaged structured finance investment strategy based on a single security, a basket of securities, options, indices, commodities, debt issuance or foreign currencies, and to a lesser extent, derivatives.
In finance, margin is collateral that the holder of a financial instrument has to deposit with a counterparty to cover some or all of the credit risk the holder poses for the counterparty. This risk can arise if the holder has done any of the following:
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:
Hedge accounting is an accountancy practice, the aim of which is to provide an offset to the mark-to-market movement of the derivative in the profit and loss account. There are two types of hedge recognized. For a fair value hedge, the offset is achieved either by marking-to-market an asset or a liability which offsets the P&L movement of the derivative. For a cash flow hedge, some of the derivative volatility is placed into a separate component of the entity's equity called the cash flow hedge reserve. Where a hedge relationship is effective, most of the mark-to-market derivative volatility will be offset in the profit and loss account. Hedge accounting entails much compliance - involving documenting the hedge relationship and both prospectively and retrospectively proving that the hedge relationship is effective.
A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as bank deposits, bonds, and stocks. Financial assets are usually more liquid than other tangible assets, such as commodities or real estate, and may be traded on financial markets.
A foreign exchange hedge is a method used by companies to eliminate or "hedge" their foreign exchange risk resulting from transactions in foreign currencies. This is done using either the cash flow hedge or the fair value method. The accounting rules for this are addressed by both the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and by the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as well as other national accounting standards.
This article lists some of the important requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
IFRS 9 is an International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) published by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). It addresses the accounting for financial instruments. It contains three main topics: classification and measurement of financial instruments, impairment of financial assets and hedge accounting. The standard came into force on 1 January 2018, replacing the earlier IFRS for financial instruments, IAS 39.