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Financial Services

Overview

This page provides high-level information and data on the Financial Services industry, which comprises the following sectors:

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Banking and General Financial Services
  • Financial Markets and Planning
  • Insurance and Superannuation
  • Mortgage and Financial Broking
  • Specialised Financial Services.

For more information on any of the above sectors, please visit the respective sector page.

In 2018, there were over 800,000 people employed in Financial Services roles, accounting for over 6% cent of employment across the Australian economy. These workers touch the lives of most Australians who rely on the industry to manage their wealth and financial security.

The Financial Services industry has been through significant changes over the past decade, following extensive regulatory reform and the emergence of new technologies in the industry. Across all sectors of the Financial Services industry, it is increasingly necessary to build foundational financial skills for both learners and workers in subject matter areas such as ethical conduct, compliance and culture so they can easily transition between jobs and meet the rising standards of the industry.

Nationally recognised training for the Financial Services industry is delivered under the FNS – Financial Services Training Package.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment in the Financial Services industry fluctuated between 2001 and 2021 but remained on an overall upwards trend. The employment level peaked in 2021 at 490,500. Employment is projected to increase to 518,800 by 2025.

Program enrolments and completions in Financial Services-related qualifications have declined every year between 2016 and 2020. There were approximately 61,890 enrolments and around 22,760 completions in 2020.

Between 2016 and 2020 the majority of Financial Services-related subjects were delivered as part of a nationally recognised program. In 2020, 14% of Financial Services-related subjects were not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Enrolments in Financial Services-related qualifications were mostly at the certificate IV level or higher.

Industry insights on skills needs

The Financial Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests the top priority skills for the Financial Services industry include health and safety skills, teamwork and communication, and problem solving skills. These are in addition to sector specific technical and multi-disciplinary skills. The top three generic skills focus primarily on soft skills including customer service, critical thinking, and learning agility. Data analysis is rated as the fourth most important generic skill for the sector.

According to the job vacancy data, the top generic skills requested by employers in the Financial Services industry were communication skills and building effective relationships. The most advertised occupations were Information Officers followed by Accountants. The top employers were Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation. The top locations for job advertisements were New South Wales and Victoria.

The above Skills Forecast highlights some of the key drivers of change for the Financial Services industry. These include demographic change, increased focus on ethical service and risk management, the impact of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, and technological change.

The ageing population will drive strong demand for health insurance, superannuation and financial advice over the medium to long term. Health and life insurance are likely to see the most growth off the back of the ageing population, with industry revenue projected to grow by 21% and 19% respectively over the next five years. Demographic changes will shape the insurance sector by increasing demand for health insurance, which will require a growing number of health insurance workers across the board, specialising in services for over 65s. Heavy reliance on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will require a multitude of workers and skills, such as insurance assessors, particularly with the ageing population driving demand (half of over 65s have a disability). The NDIS therefore presents a significant growth opportunity for training in this sector, requiring more insurance assessors specialising in assessments for people with disability.

Demographic changes will shape the superannuation sector by increasing the proportion of superannuation assets held in the retirement phase. Understanding the needs of a client in retirement and communicating risks will be vitally important to financial advisers in the sector. Demographic changes will drive demand for self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). As the SMSF trend continues, financial services workers will play more of an advisory and transactional role in assisting SMSF members to manage their own funds, rather than managing the funds on the member's behalf.

Financial planning and advice is expected to grow through increased demand from older Australians seeking financial advice in their retirement. Demographic changes will shape the financial planning and advice sector by increasing demand for financial advice from superannuates, as growing post-retirement wealth creates a greater incentive to seek professional financial advice. The ability to assist clients through the potential emotional and psychological stress of retirement will be crucial. Strong demand for property is driving demand for mortgage brokers and general insurers, in addition to financial advisers.

Demographic changes will shape the trust administration sector through increasing focus on products required for the management of the financial affairs for ageing Australians who may no longer be able to make financial decisions for themselves, such as powers of attorney and financial administration orders.

Ultimately, an ageing population will lead to an increased demand for most professionals in the many Financial Services sectors. Workers with specialist knowledge to support retirees accessing services in these sectors, and people with a disability under the NDIS scheme will be highly sought after. Workers in the sector will need strong customer service skills and risk management skills to ensure that retirees have a stable income stream and are able to effectively manage their wealth.

A focus on ethical service and risk management is increasing across the Financial Services industry, driven by changes in the regulatory environment, professional standards and public scrutiny. This is likely to increase employers' demand for skills such as compliance and risk management, with workers needing to have a strong understanding of regulations and ethical standards and have up to date knowledge regarding changes in the industry.

Significant changes to the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) Education Standard came into effect from 1 January 2019. These changes are expected to have a large impact on the financial planning sector in the short to medium term.

As with many industries across the economy, emerging technologies are significant in shaping the future of the Financial Services industry. These technologies are often grouped together under the all-encompassing term of FinTech. These innovations are changing the services provided by the industry, as well as leading to the automation of many process-oriented roles in the industry and enabling more financial services in the gig and shared economies. Many technological advancements in the Financial Services industry are aimed at giving the consumer more knowledge and control of transactions and services, and the ability to conduct services for themselves, for example, internet and mobile banking allowing customers to manage their funds without going to a branch.

New technologies will require workers in specific sectors to be adaptable to change and learn the skills for new tools. These technologies all enable more data to be collected, leading to increased risks around managing and storing that data correctly and leading to a greater need for risk management skills and an understanding of regulatory controls around data protection and data management.

Alongside opportunities offered by new technologies, FinTech innovations are also likely to automate some tasks and roles currently undertaken by FNS graduates. For example, research has indicated that some administration roles within financial services and insurance have a high probability of being automated within this decade. While automation may lead to the complete replacement of some roles, requiring workers to move to higher skilled positions or exit the industry, it will also provide an opportunity for many workers to use different skills in related roles. In the Financial Services industry, changes to insurance or personal injury administration roles are leading workers to move away from processing claims to a more service oriented role focused on improving the customer's engagement with the company.

Therefore, flexibility and resilience skills will continue to be extremely important for graduates and workers adapting to technological change. Communication and other skills where humans generally have a competitive advantage over machines will be of particular importance, as these skills will help people transition between industries and roles within industries. Additionally, proficiency in computing skills, strong analytical skills, and adaptability to understand and embrace new technologies and work environments will enable workers to better prepare themselves for changing industry demands, particularly in the FinTech space with the increasing digitisation of products, platforms, and services.

According to the Oxford Economics report Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs: What Will be the Impact of AI on Workers in Every Sector?, Financial Services companies are placing greater emphasis on improving employee engagement and customer service, and will invest more in automation, analytics and customer interaction technology to empower employees accordingly. For many occupations in this industry, the need for non-routine, interpersonal and cognitive tasks such as interpreting information for others and providing advice are valuable, and more difficult to automate. That means they are relatively well protected from the implications of the next decade's technological change. An exception to that rule, amongst the sector's major occupations, is for Office Clerks. This role is typically focused on routine processing of information and analysis of data, tasks that technology is increasingly capable of performing. Oxford Economics predicts a 5% drop in headcount for this position. On the contrary, demand for Finance Managers and Bank Tellers (or an evolved variant of that customer-facing role) are predicted to grow by more than 10%, as the importance of interpersonal tasks, such as customer orientation and conflict resolution, and cognitive tasks, such as interpreting information for others, at which workers in these roles excel, grow in a more technology driven environment.

Oxford Economics anticipates that an expanding Financial Services industry will draw talent from other parts of the labour market but filling the new roles will require a degree of skills training. Their analysis suggests the most common skills challenge is critical thinking. Training also needs to be prioritised in skills such as active listening and decision making.

The KPMG report 30 Voices On 2030: The New Reality for Financial Services, argues that the arms race to secure the best talent and their desirable sets of skills will continue to be fierce for the rest of this decade. As technology and innovation continue to disrupt the industry, the war for talent – particularly for skills that are limited – is accelerating. Organisations depend on their talent to find growth in a protracted low-growth environment, to consciously consider the needs of the customer, to think creatively about the delivery of the customer experience and to construct partnerships that deliver those services. Consequently, a premium is now paid for emotionally intelligent employees with inquisitive, curious and perceptive mindsets. Organisational culture and leadership will be critical elements of the employee value proposition – particularly for attracting, developing and retaining talent. In an industry driven by artificial intelligence and data, traditional business and financial acumen is augmented with digital skills sets and the ability to be data dextrous. This is a key criterion of employment. Recruits are not required to understand specific coding languages, but they are required to understand the logic and algorithms that underpin and impact customer outcomes. Any Financial Services roles which require empathy, customer understanding, cultural nuances and soft skills will be safe, rewarded, and remain onshore.

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) requires entities with a consolidated revenue of AU$100 million or more to submit an annual modern slavery statement on what they are doing to identify and manage modern slavery risk in their operations and supply chains. In the Financial Services industry context, this includes identifying and addressing risks of modern slavery across a wide range of business relationships. KPMG Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission have collaborated to produce Financial Services and Modern Slavery: Practical Responses for Managing Risk to People to: highlight particular modern slavery risks prevalent in the Financial Services industry, including in banking, insurance, investment and asset management; provide tips for the Financial Services industry on leading practice and a rights-based approach to managing modern slavery risk; and foster transparent modern slavery reporting for the benefit of business, government and the people at risk of harm.

For more detailed analysis of industry skills needs, see the Financial Services sector pages.

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly developed into the biggest economic crisis in living memory, causing business closures, job losses, a lockdown of society, and for many, significant decline in earnings and an erosion of their savings. According to MinterEllison’s article A New Financial Services Landscape, the Financial Services industry has been grappling with new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. The industry's role pivoted almost overnight as the community and government required immediate support to manage COVID-19's impacts. Through means such as government guarantees for small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders and exemptions from responsible lending obligations, the industry has been able to play the role of 'crisis shock absorbers'. This scenario has allowed the industry to demonstrate much faster than anticipated that it has already addressed much of the criticism levelled at it during the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry about its approach to customers and the community. The move away from face-to-face transactions fast tracked the need for increased digitisation, which was also raised in the Royal Commission's findings.

In May 2020, the Morrison Government announced a six month deferral to the implementation of commitments associated with the Royal Commission as a result of the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the updated timetable, those measures that the Government had indicated would be introduced into the Parliament by 30 June 2020, were instead introduced by December 2020. Similarly, those measures originally scheduled for introduction by December 2020 were introduced by 30 June 2021. This announcement balanced the need to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission with the need to ensure Australia’s financial institutions were in a position to devote their resources to responding to the significant challenges posed by the coronavirus.

As the worldwide vaccine rollout signalled the start of the post-pandemic era, businesses were faced with the prospect of emerging into a world that has decisively and permanently changed. The PwC Australia article Three No-Regrets Moves for a Flourishing Financial Services Sector, highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many significant innovations in the way financial services businesses operate and has undoubtedly accelerated the digital transformation agenda beyond all predictions. This has required the Financial Services industry to respond with agility, placing a greater focus on their most important asset: their people. In this rapidly changing business environment, however, financial services businesses are struggling to keep up with the skills needed in the post-pandemic era. Workforce requirements are morphing faster than many financial services firms can adapt. The impact of COVID-19 and new entrants to the landscape mean that disruption has well and truly arrived. Upskilling and reskilling need to be supported by collaboration, data, and an in-depth understanding of the different forces at work.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Financial Services IRC

 

Relevant research

 

30 Voices On 2030: The New Reality for Financial Services – KPMG

2019 Insurance Outlook: Growing Economy Bolsters Insurers, But Longer-term Trends May Require Transformation – Deloitte Center for Financial Services

2020 Annual Report: Adapt Engage Prepare Protect – Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

2020 Annual Report: Fix Simplify Perform – Westpac Group

2021 Annual Report: Building Tomorrow’s Bank Today. – Commonwealth Bank of Australia

A New Financial Services Landscape – MinterEllison

A Smart Brain and Warm Heart: How Should We Educate Financial Planners? – Thomas Hendry

A Spotlight on Risk for the Insurance Sector – KPMG

Accounting Insights Report: Identifying the Skills to Develop Future-fit Firms – CommBank

Accounting Insights Report: The Culture of Learning and Future Skills Development – CommBank

Accounting Services in Australia: Market Research Report – IBISWorld

Australian Banking and the Recovery: 5 Strategic Priorities for Banks – Boston Consulting Group

Banking Code of Practice: Setting the Standards of Practice for Banks, Their Staff and Their Representatives – Australian Banking Association

Bankwest Future of Business: Focus on Professional Services – Bankwest

CommBank Accounting Market Pulse – CommBank

COVID-19: What Does it Mean for the Financial Services Industry? – MinterEllison

Culture and Conduct Risk in the Banking Sector: Why It Matters and What Regulators Are Doing to Address It – Starling

Education Standard Commenced 1 January 2019 – Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA)

Educational Implications and the Changing Role of Accountants: a Conceptual Approach to Accounting Education – Greg van Mourik and Carla L. Wilkin

Ethics in Financial Planning: Analysis of Ombudsman Decisions Using Codes of Ethics and Fiduciary Duty Standards – Australian Journal of Management, 2021 (pre-print article) – Daniel W. Richards, Abdullahi D. Ahmed and Kenneth Bruce

EY FinTech Australia Census 2020: Profiling and Defining the Fintech Sector – FinTech Australia and EY Australia

Finance and Insurance Workforce Insights – South Australian Training and Skills Commission (TASC)

Financial Planners and Advisers Code of Ethics 2019 Guide – Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA)

Financial Planning and Investment Advice in Australia: Market Research Report – IBISWorld

Financial Services and Modern Slavery: Practical Responses for Managing Risk to People – KPMG Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission

Framework for Industry Conduct Training – Australian Financial Markets Association

Future-proofing Accounting Professionals: Ensuring Graduate Employability and Future Readiness – Marcus Bowles, Samrat Ghosh and Lisa Thomas

Life Industry Come Together to Launch ‘First Ever’ Industry Wide Professional Standards Framework [media release] – Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF)

Life Insurance Market Outlook Report – Plan For Life, Actuaries and Researchers, Asset International Australia

Life Insurers to Launch ‘First Ever’ Professional Standards Framework – Insurance Business Australia

Mortgage Brokers in Australia: Market Research Report – IBISWorld

Mortgage Broking – PWC's Skills for Australia – Skills Service Organisation

National Australia Bank to Add 500 Jobs Amid Influx of Hardship Claims – News.com.au

Neurodiversity Program Develops Unique Skills and Talents for National Australia Bank – DXC Technology

New Reality for Insurance: Australia – KPMG

Occupational Boundaries: Gender Capital and Career Progression in the Financial Planning Industry – Financial Planning Review, Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2021 – Monica O'Dwyer and Daniel W. Richards

Post-COVID-19: Insurance and Wealth Sector Consumer Trends – KPMG

Ready, Set, Upskill: Effective Training for the Jobs of Tomorrow – RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics

Responding to a Changing Landscape: General Insurance Industry Review 2020: With the Top 10 Trends Impacting the Sector – KPMG

'Response Rates Have Been Too Slow': Westpac Brings Call Centre Jobs Back to Australia – The Sydney Morning Herald

Restoring Trust in Australia's Financial System: the Government Response to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry – Government of Australia

Risk Transformation for the Superannuation Industry – KPMG

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry: Final Report – Kenneth M. Hayne

Securing the Future: Protecting Australia's Superannuation Ecosystem Against Cybersecurity Threats – Gateway Network Governance Body (GNGB) and PwC Australia

Skill Finder and Commonwealth Bank Address Australia's Growing Skills Gap – IT Brief Australia

Skills Priority List: June 2021 – National Skills Commission

Specialisms With Low Enrolments – PWC's Skills for Australia – Skills Service Organisation

Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs: What Will be the Impact of AI on Workers in Every Sector? – Oxford Economics

The Evolving Mortgage Market: Winning the Fight for Customers – KPMG

The FSC Guide to the Prevention of Elder Financial Abuse – Financial Services Council (FSC)

The Future of Advice: Overcoming Challenges to Deliver Great Consumer Outcomes – Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)

The Hayne Royal Commission and Financial Planning Advice: A Review of the Impact on the Operating Model of Financial Advice Firms – Financial Planning Research Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1, 2020 – Mohammad Abu-Taleb, Afzalur Rashid and Syed Shams

The Most In-Demand Skills for 2021 – Hays

The Road to Recovery for Insurers – Deloitte Australia

The Silent Disruption of the Accounting Industry – Benchmarking Group

Three No-Regrets Moves for a Flourishing Financial Services Sector – PwC Australia

Update on the Implementation of the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Royal Commission [media release] – Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, The Hon Josh Frydenberg

Westpac is Redeploying 1,000 Overseas Call Center Jobs Back to Australia – Business Insider

What Computer Skills Do Accountants Need? – EWM Accountants & Business Advisors

What Skills do Accountants of the Future Really Need? – Acuity

Where Next For Financial Services?: How Australian Financial Services Can Reboot, and Help Reboot Australia – PwC

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

 

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)

Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)

Association of Financial Advisers (AFA)

Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals (AIOFP)

Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA)

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants (ATMA)

Australasian Institute of Chartered Loss Adjusters (AICLA)

Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF)

Australian Banking Association (ABA)

Australian Bookkeepers Association (ABA)

Australian Financial Markets Association (AFMA)

Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST)

Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA)

CFA Societies Australia & New Zealand

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)

CPA Australia

Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA)

Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA)

Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA)

Financial Services Council (FSC)

Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA)

Independent Financial Advisers Australia (IFA-AUST)

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)

Institute of Mercantile Agents (IMA)

Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)

Insurance Australia Group (IAG)

Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)

Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA)

National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA)

Profession of Independent Financial Advisers (PIFA)

Risk Management Association (RMA) Australia

Self Managed Super Fund Association (SMSF Association)

Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association (SAFAA)

 

Government bodies

Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA)

Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA)

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

Council of Financial Regulators (CFR)

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

 

Employee associations

Finance Sector Union (FSU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 1 digit Financial and Insurance Services Industry, employment projections to May 2025.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2021 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021/EQ08.xlsx

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 1 digit Financial and Insurance Services Industry, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

 

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages:

  • FNS and FNB Financial Services Training Packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

 

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

FNS and FNB Financial Services Training Packages apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • Financial and Insurance Services.
  • Employers
    • 5412 Information Officers
    • 2211 Accountants
    • 2247 Management and Organisation Analysts
    • 5521 Bank Workers
    • 1399 Other Specialist Managers
    • Financial and Insurance Services.
Updated: 25 Oct 2021
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