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Opening-Up Australia’s Financial Services Industry

Breaking barriers and creating opportunities

BEN BENSON, SPECIAL COUNSEL and ELIZABETH HASTILOW, PARTNER, K&L GATES

Australia’s financial services sector sits at the core of its economy. With around $2.5 trillion in assets managed from Australia, its investment management market is ranked the fourth largest in the world and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. However, considering less than 5% of those assets represent funds sourced from overseas, the industry could be viewed as relatively insular. In recent years participants and the government alike have recognised the benefits of opening up the industry by facilitating foreign managers operating in Australia and the ability of local managers to capture foreign capital. Building upon this mutual recognition, waves of policy reforms aimed at breaking barriers and creating opportunities have emerged and which, once fully implemented, will strengthen all aspects of Australia’s financial services industry.

Johnson Report reforms

Competition among financial services centres for highly mobile global capital is intense. To enhance inbound investment into Australia and the offshore activities of Australian fund managers, the government and industry have been forced to address a number of barriers. As part of that effort the government established the Australian Financial Centre Forum which has been the driving force behind many of the recent reforms. The Forum’s review of the financial services sector resulted in its 2009 report Australia as a Financial Centre – Building on Our Strengths (the Johnson Report) and set out a number of key recommendations, including the implementation of the following:

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