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Specialised Financial Services


This page provides information and data on the Specialised Financial Services sector, which is one component of the Financial Services industry, and includes mercantile agency, personal trust administration, risk management, anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing management.

The Specialised Financial Services sector includes a range of technical financial services with a number of different applications. Mercantile agents complement the Banking and Insurance sectors, providing debt collection and investigation services following missed payments or claims. Trust administration is the management of a trust property for the benefit of beneficiaries after the settlor's death.

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

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Financial Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

For information on other financial services, see the Financial Services cluster page.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

The Financial Services IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Specialised financial services IRC’s

Employment trends

For information on employment trends, see the Financial Services cluster page.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Specialised Financial Services-related qualifications fell between 2016 and 2019. Program completions fell between 2015 and 2019, with a very small rise in completions between 2017 and 2018. Two thirds of all enrolments in 2019 were at the diploma or higher level with the remaining third at the certificate III level. In 2019, the area of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing had the most program enrolments, followed by mercantile agents. Due to the varied nature of this sector, there are a range of intended occupations for these qualifications, including External Auditor, Credit and Loans Officer, and Finance Broker.

In 2019, all Specialised Financial Services-related qualifications were delivered by private training providers, and the vast majority of subjects were funded through domestic fee for service (96%). New South Wales had the highest proportion of students enrolled in Specialised Financial Services-related qualifications at 54%.

The majority of training was delivered in New South Wales (74%), with Queensland (23%) and Victoria (4%) making up the remaining portion.

There are very few apprentices and trainees in this sector. Apprentice and trainee commencements rose overall between 2010 and 2014 but have declined significantly since the 2014 peak of approximately 280. There were no commencements in 2019. Completions rose overall between 2010 and 2015 but have declined overall since the 2015 peak of 120. There were no completions in 2019.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

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Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Financial Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, 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. Communication skills and customer relationship skills are increasingly important in the trust administration sector as the sector considers what, if any, their future role (legislatively or otherwise) will be in assisting to identify elder abuse and ensure customers are not under duress. In the future, this may require trust administrators to assist in identifying issues when drafting and administering powers of attorney and financial management.

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.

The risk and compliance jobs market is currently strong, providing plenty of new opportunities in the sector. For example, banks are looking for more workers across operational risk and conduct risk, anti-money laundering and financial crime operations, and regulatory compliance roles. In the last year alone, there has been an increase of 48% in risk and compliance job listings. Given that compliance and risk job roles require a specialised skill set, it can be difficult for employers to find suitable workers for the role.

The above Skills Forecast states that mercantile agents need skills relating to: maintaining and preparing financial records, resolving disputes, collecting debts, serving legal processes, identifying, locating and notifying debtors of overdue accounts, and complying with debt collection guidelines and relevant legislation. Data management skills are critical for mercantile agents as technology offers new ways to track customers known as 'skip tracing', and to connect customer information and data to support the debt recovery process. Mercantile agents also need skills to manage difficult interactions with customers who are experiencing financial hardship or are struggling to pay their debts.

Industry consultations have highlighted changes which necessitate updates to the training products for these specialisms:

  • Mercantile agents training products need updating to reflect the outcomes of the Senate Enquiry and changes in industry regulation.
  • Trust administration qualifications need updating to address changes in legislation, emerging areas, and to remove overlap to provide a clear pathway for progression. The extent of training within organisations in this sector varies greatly, and learners need to use the qualifications to supplement their internal training to gain a broader knowledge of trust administration beyond their immediate role, so they are better equipped to do their job.

PWC's Skills for Australia has been working on a project to update the training products for specialist areas in the FNS Financial Services Training Package including mercantile agents and trust administration.

The Financial Services Council (FSC) has published The FSC Guide to the Prevention of Elder Financial Abuse. The guide states that training and procedures consistent with a financial institution's policies on elder financial abuse empower financial representatives to act promptly and with authority when elder financial abuse is suspected. It is essential that training programs describe what actions to take when employees detect problems, including the process to be followed, and the roles and responsibilities of all staff and management involved.

Key elements of effective employee training include:

  • Definitions, risk profiles and case studies of elder financial abuse.
  • Identification of red flags (client-facing and transactional) and appropriate responses.
  • Protocols for reporting and escalation, including details of what needs to be recorded and how.
  • Methods for recording suspicious activity on client accounts.
  • Contact points for employee assistance (internal and external).

Training needs to be tailored to different staff roles and repeated periodically. These processes should be overseen with the same due care as other employee training programs, including allocation of appropriate roles and responsibilities and clear links to internal governance procedures.

Links and resources

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

Relevant research

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

State of the Industry 2019 – Financial Services Council (FSC)

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


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)

Institute of Mercantile Agents (IMA)

Risk Management Association (RMA) Australia


Employee associations

Finance Sector Union (FSU)


Data sources and notes

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

  • FNS Financial Services Training Package
  • Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing
    •  FNS51710 - Diploma of Applied Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Management
    • FNS51715 - Diploma of Applied Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Management
    • FNS80115 - Graduate Diploma of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing
  • Mercantile Agents
    • FNS30410 - Certificate III in Mercantile Agents
    • FNS30415 - Certificate III in Mercantile Agents
  • Personal Trusts
    • FNS41311 - Certificate IV in Personal Trust Administration
    • FNS41315 - Certificate IV in Personal Trust Administration
    • FNS42215 - Certificate IV in Personal Trust Administration
    • FNS52015 - Diploma of Personal Trusts
  • Risk Management
    • FNS50811 - Diploma of Integrated Risk Management
    • FNS50815 - Diploma of Integrated Risk Management
    • FNS60811 - Advanced Diploma of Integrated Risk Management
    • FNS60815 - Advanced Diploma of Integrated Risk Management.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 program completions.

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

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.
Updated: 23 Nov 2020
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