Austrade Gateway
About the Gateway Financial services in Australia Financial services regulation

About the Gateway

This Gateway provides an overview of how financial services businesses are regulated in Australia. It outlines the registration and licensing requirements you may need to complete before operating a financial services business in Australia.

Licences and registrations are not transferrable, so you will need to decide how your business will be structured before applying for licences and registrations.

In providing financial services in Australia, you may require more than one type of licence from more than one regulator. This guide provides five major Gateways to demonstrate common categories of financial services:

It is not intended to cover all possibilities. More than one of these Gateways may apply to your intended business.

How and when to use this Gateway

Financial services regulation is technical and complex. This Gateway is intended to assist you in finding the relevant information and to give you a starting point for discussion with advisors. This guide does not eliminate the need for professional advice. It is strongly recommended that you use professional advisers to advise you on legal, compliance and tax matters.

This Gateway will guide you to the websites of the major regulators. Take the time to explore those sites thoroughly for more detailed information on requirements.

Financial services in Australia

Australia has a sophisticated financial services sector and is ideally positioned as a financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia has deep and liquid financial markets and is internationally recognised for the quality of its investment management. Australia ranks highly in terms of transparency, governance, regulation, rule of law and political stability.

Australia has well capitalised banking and insurance sectors, mandated retirement savings scheme, and a highly skilled and multilingual workforce.

Financial services regulation

Overview of the regulatory framework

Australia has a strong regulatory framework and the strength of its regime is reflected in the robustness of the financial institutions.

Supervision of Australia’s financial services industry is organised along functional rather than institutional lines. The industry is supervised by statutory bodies with operational independence from the Government. Financial services providers may be regulated by more than one regulator. Depending on the activities undertaken by your business, you may require licensing from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as well as authorisation or registration by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

We provide a brief overview of Australia’s main regulatory bodies below. Other useful resources can be found on the Australian Government and the State or Territory Government websites for an overview of the broader business requirements.

Australia’s main regulatory bodies are:

The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) is an Australian Government agency with statutory responsiblity for Australian accounting standards which are published on its website.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is an Australian Government statutory authority that promotes competition and fair trade in the market place to benefit consumers, business and the community. It administers the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and other Acts.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of banks, insurance companies and superannuation funds, credit unions, building societies and friendly societies. Registered financial corporations and general insurance intermediaries, while not prudentially regulated by APRA, may need to provide data to APRA . Depending on your business activity, you may need authorisation, registration and/or have reporting obligations to APRA.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the financial services regulator responsible for consumer protection and market integrity. ASIC enforces and administers the Corporations Act 2001 and National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 and other Acts which regulate the provision of financial services and consumer credit in Australia. Any entity carrying on a financial services business in Australia must either hold an Australian financial services licence (AFS licence) or a licensing exemption. Any entity providing consumer credit services must either hold an Australian credit licence (ACL) or a licensing exemption.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) monitors all areas of taxation for individuals and business. We recommend you engage a tax professional to assist you in understanding the tax requirements.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) administers the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is a non-statutory body that advises the Government on foreign investment policy and its administration. The FIRB examines proposals by foreign people to invest in Australia and make recommendations to the Treasurer on submissions or proposals which are subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. This includes business investment and residential real estate.

The Privacy Commissioner is part of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and is the national privacy regulator. The Commissioner performs key functions under the Privacy Act 1988.

The Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) main responsibility is monetary policy. Other major roles are maintaining financial system stability and promoting the safety and efficiency of the payments system.

The Treasury is the Australian Government department that advises the Government on policy for business law and regulation, competition and consumer policy, financial services, foreign investment, superannuation and taxation.

Which Gateway is right for you?

We have arranged the information into five Gateways indicating the registration and licensing requirements for common categories of financial services. It is not intended to cover all possibilities. More than one of these Gateways may apply to your intended business.

Gateway to Funds Management

This Gateway provides information for issuers or operators of managed investment schemes.

Gateway to General Financial Services

This Gateway includes a wide range of financial services such as those typically provided by financial advisors, financial planners, investment managers, stock brokers, derivatives and foreign exchange dealers, capital markets dealers, private equity providers, margin lenders, mortgage brokers, finance companies, money market corporations, consumer credit providers, and any other business where a financial service or financial product is provided.

Gateway to Banking and Deposit Taking

This Gateway includes information on the requirements for deposit-taking and lenders, credit card issuers, purchased payment providers and some of the activities commonly undertaken by retail banks, credit unions, building societies, and commercial banks.

Gateway to Insurance

This Gateway includes information for product issuers of general insurance or life insurance.

Gateway to Superannuation

This Gateway includes information for trustees of public offer superannuation funds, otherwise known as pension funds.