Financial Services

The financial services industry is the fourth largest sector of the Australian economy, accounting for more than 8 per cent of GDP. Its relative global strength has been underpinned by a resilient economy; sophisticated, deep and liquid financial markets; a world-leading regulatory system; compulsory superannuation savings; a highly skilled workforce and strong business infrastructure.

The role of the financial services sector is to facilitate the productive flow of funds between sectors, companies and people. Broadly speaking, the sector can be broken down into the following categories:

  • corporate finance and wholesale banking (the ‘deal makers’)
  • financial markets (the ‘traders’)
  • managed funds and superannuation (the ‘asset managers’)
  • retail banking and private wealth management (the financial advisors).

The work

The strength of the financial services industry makes it a leading employer in Australia, employing nearly 400,000 people. Key employers include financial institutions, international and national investment banks, asset and fund managers and regional banks. There are also opportunities in specialist divisions in retail banking, financial markets, financial planning and other financial solutions providers.

The diversity of the financial services industry and the size and complexity of many of its institutions mean that there is an extraordinarily varied range of career paths available to graduates entering this industry. The global nature of financial services also means there is significant potential for overseas work or secondment offshore.

Kickstarting your financial services career

To give your financial services career a competitive edge, it’s important to start building your industry networks and knowledge as soon as possible. By becoming a member of a professional industry body like Finsia (the Financial Services Institute of Australasia) you’ll have immediate and privileged access to valuable member resources, career advice and mentoring services, powerful industry networks and thought-leading programs.

For more details, go to

Interesting facts

  • 56 banks currently operate in Australia – 12 domestic banks and 44 foreign subsidiary or branch banks)
  • Australia has one of the world’s largest pools of funds under management, currently valued at about $1.2 trillion
  • Australia has the second-largest stock market in Asia (after Japan) and ranks eighth in the world

[Source: Austrade, | Note: all figures in Australian dollars.]

What you need

  • Typical degree qualifications include: Business, Commerce, Finance, Economics, Accounting and Actuarial
  • Combined courses such as Bachelor of engineering/Bachelor of commerce and Bachelor of economics/Bachelor of laws may also be taken
  • Applied mathematics, Engineering and Information technology degrees are increasingly leading to careers in the industry

Industry at a glance

  • 392,500 employed in sector, 2009
  • 85% employed full time
  • Balanced outlook (0.3% p.a. growth, 2010–14)


(This profile also appears in GCA’s annual Graduate Opportunities directory. GCA would like to thank Finsia for assisting with this profile.)