Financial Services in Australia and New Zealand-Truly World Class! Our Financial Institutions Are Delivering Outstanding Performances Relative to Their Global Peers. Key Factors Driving This Are Strong Economic Conditions and a Highly Skilled and Extremely Productive Workforce. (from the Chief Executive)

By Unkles, John | Journal of Banking and Financial Services, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Financial Services in Australia and New Zealand-Truly World Class! Our Financial Institutions Are Delivering Outstanding Performances Relative to Their Global Peers. Key Factors Driving This Are Strong Economic Conditions and a Highly Skilled and Extremely Productive Workforce. (from the Chief Executive)


Unkles, John, Journal of Banking and Financial Services


Australia's economy and its financial services sector has shown spectacular growth in recent years, outperforming those of most of our Asia-Pacific neighbours and other western economies.

Across the Tasman, a similar picture has emerged with the New Zealand economy remaining buoyant despite the recent global economic slowdown and four out of five of New Zealand's major banks now Australian-owned.

Arguably, the stable and robust banking sector has contributed to--rather than just benefited from--these strong economic conditions.

Now the third largest sector of the Australian economy, the finance and insurance sector is also one of the fastest growing industry segments. With an average annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent in the five years to 2000-01, the sector outperformed overall economic growth which averaged 3.6 per cent per annum.

Not only has this sector grown much faster than Australia's more traditional industries, its performance contrasts sharply with other regional centres such as Singapore and Hong Kong, where the finance sector has shrunk in recent years.

The growing importance of financial services to Australia's economy has been reflected in an eight-fold increase in market capitalisation on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Excellent skills and strong productivity growth ...

Employing around 350,000 people, the finance and insurance sector is also one of the most efficient sectors of the Australian economy, with productivity growth outstripping that of the wider economy in the past five years.

These results are reflected across a whole range of key performance measures for the industry, a strong tribute to the rich talents and skills of the workforce.

The fact that global banks continue to recruit graduates from Australia and New Zealand for their international operations is a strong indication that our skills-in finance are world class. Indeed, the 2001 World Competitiveness Yearbook ranked Australia as first in the world for the availability of its finance skills.

... and the results speak for themselves

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Australia's banks recorded the second highest global industry returns on a return on equity basis. The report identified the two key contributing factors as the high quality of senior local management and the strong domestic economy.

Also, Australian banks were strongly represented in FinanceAsia magazine's recent annual ranking of the top 200 Asian banks, on measures such as profitability, market capitalisation and return on equity.

The relatively strong performance of Australian banks was also reflected in Standard & Poor's latest annual Asia-Pacific banking review.

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Financial Services in Australia and New Zealand-Truly World Class! Our Financial Institutions Are Delivering Outstanding Performances Relative to Their Global Peers. Key Factors Driving This Are Strong Economic Conditions and a Highly Skilled and Extremely Productive Workforce. (from the Chief Executive)
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