5232.0 - Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts, Mar 2011 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



1 According to the United Nations System of National Accounts 2008 edition (SNA08):

"The financial account records transactions that involve financial assets and liabilities and that take place between resident institutional units and between resident institutional units and the rest of the world." (para 11.2)

2 The financial account plus the financial assets and liabilities from the balance sheet and non-transaction flows such as revaluations and volume changes forms a dataset in the publication known as the Australian National Accounts, Financial Accounts (cat. no. 5232.0). The publication contains financial profiles of each sub sector of the economy and the market for each conventional financial instrument. There are also tables showing inter-sectoral financial transactions and measures of sectoral financial surpluses and deficits.

3 Financial accounts of various types - which are also called flow of funds statistics - are published by many Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, including the United States of America (from 1945), the United Kingdom (from 1952) and Canada (from 1962). In Australia, the Reserve Bank produced annual flow of funds accounts for the reference years 1953-54 to 1988-89. The final edition of these was published in the Reserve Bank Bulletin, November 1989. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published quarterly estimates commencing with experimental estimates of inter-sectoral financial transactions for the March and June quarters 1989. From the June 1998 reference quarter, the financial accounts dataset was produced according to a revised international standard, the System of National Accounts, 1993 (SNA93) and from the September 2009 quarter, Australian National Accounts, Financial Accounts (cat. no. 5232.0) has been produced according to the SNA08.

4 The SNA08 was produced by five international organisations involved in the use of economic statistics and the promotion of international statistical standards: United Nations, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Commission of the European Communities. The ABS adheres to internationally accepted standards. This ensures that Australian statistics are comparable with other countries that apply the standards. In some cases the relevant international standard has been interpreted and adapted for Australian conditions.

5 There are significant conceptual differences between the SNA93 version and the SNA08 Australian Financial Accounts (see Information Paper: Product changes to Financial Accounts following revisions to international standards, 2009 (cat. no. 5232.0.55.003)). The dataset prior to September 2009 has been converted to SNA08 and backcast to June quarter 1988 (stocks data) and September quarter 1988 (transactions data). In addition to SNA08, the concepts employed include elements drawn from the classifications used in the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) sixth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6), the IMF's Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001, and the IMF's Manual on Monetary and Financial Statistics 2001. The most significant change from SNA93 to SNA08 version has been the revision to the sectoral classification applicable to Financial Corporations. These changes have been adapted to Australian conditions in the Standard Economic Sector Classification of Australia (SESCA), 2008 (cat. no. 1218.0) and applied to the Australian Financial Accounts. SESCA discusses transactor units and the sectoral classification.


6 The Australian Financial Accounts shown here are not directly comparable with the flow of funds estimates which were previously published by the RBA. Therefore, the ABS series should not be used as an extension of the RBA series. The main differences between the two series are as follows.

  • The ABS statistics are compiled with assistance from specially conducted statistical surveys whereas the RBA’s series were compiled mainly from administrative sources. These administrative by-product data were different in scope, coverage, timing and classification from the survey data used by ABS.
  • The ABS statistics use the same sectors as in other parts of the national accounts whereas the RBA’s sectoring was different. The RBA combined Commonwealth public trading enterprises and Commonwealth general government; and State and local public trading enterprises, and State and local general government. The sectors used by the RBA can be constructed by consolidation of the statistics presented in this publication. Also, the RBA’s statistics had a more detailed classification of financial enterprises than that presented here.
  • The ABS statistics use a more extensive classification of financial instruments than that used by the RBA. The RBA’s classification can be constructed from the ABS statistics.



7 Balance sheet data are known as stock, level or position data, and refer to the value of financial assets (and liabilities) in existence at a point in time, the end of a calendar quarter in the case of the Australian financial accounts. The value of the stock of financial assets changes during the course of a quarter, and the net value of the change is called economic flow. The net flow during a period may be decomposed into three broad elements: transactions, revaluations, and other changes in volume. Thus over time the following relationship between stocks and flows applies for any given combination of financial asset (or liability) type, sector of transactor, sector of counterparty transactor:

Opening period stock + net transactions + net revaluations + other changes in volume = closing period stock.


8 Transactions are how economic value is exchanged between transactors in the economy, in the case of the financial accounts these transactions take place in formally organised financial markets (such as the stock exchange) or in informally organised markets (often referred to as over-the-counter markets), such as the market for bank deposits.

9 Exchange of value implies a change of ownership of an asset, and this is a central principle in classifying a change in value to either a transaction or other economic flow. Examples of changes of ownership include purchase/sale of shares, issue/take up of debt securities, deposit of cash in a bank, provision of funds in exchange for a mortgage for a housing loan.

10 Exchanges of financial assets are requited in the sense that the provision of a resource (say cash) is exchanged for an obligation or claim (share, deposit account balance, debt security or mortgage documentation). These claims are legally enforceable according to general commercial law or specific agreements between the parties. In some cases the legal nature of the transaction and the economic effect of the transaction may be different, and SNA08 makes a small number of exceptions to the legal change of ownership principle to an economic change of ownership basis. For the financial accounts the major exception is financial leasing, where the legalities of the transaction are modified such that the leased asset is deemed to have been sold to the lessor in exchange for a loan, the financial lease. Commercial accounting standards also treat financial leasing in this manner.

11 In the financial accounts transactions are recorded at the value actually exchanged, that is market value. This may differ to the contractual value of claims arising from the transaction, for example the sale value of shares compared to the par value of the shares, or the proceeds value of a debt security issue rather than the nominal value of the debt securities. Transaction values are recorded without deducting transaction costs such as brokerage fees or commissions. Such fees or commissions are treated as sales of services, current account transactions not financial account transactions.

12 The exchange of value is recorded on an accrual basis, that is in the period where ownership changed. This may be different to when the payment for the exchange of value is made. For example an enforceable contract for the purchase/sale of shares comes into existence when a deal is struck on the stock exchange. This has to be settled two days later, and the settlement date may be in a different quarter to when the deal was made. This gives rise to a further financial claim in the form of an account payable/receivable to bridge the period.

13 Transactions for any particular class of transactor are recorded on a net basis in the financial accounts. For example bank deposit transactions are the net of new deposits less withdrawals, transactions in shares are the net of purchases and sales. For some economic analysis the components of net transactions are of interest, and there are some limited data on gross transactions available on request, such as new share issues.


14 Revaluations occur when the price of an asset changes causing an increase or decrease in the stock value of holdings of that asset. Revaluations are an economic flow that does not result from a change of ownership. Examples of the causes of revaluation are share price changes and the impact of exchange rate changes on assets denominated in foreign currency.

15 While revaluations are not transactions, they do have a significant impact on wealth (stock) aggregates from period to period and may have a significant impact on economic behaviour. For example the run down in valuation of superannuation balances in response to a fall in the price of shares may result in employees deferring retirement.

Other Changes in Volume

16 Asset values may change over time through causes other than transactions and price changes. For financial assets the most significant other changes in volume (OCV) result from phenomena such as bad debt write-offs or corporate failures. In such cases it is often difficult to distinguish between price changes (debt write down, share price fall) and OCV. In practice the financial accounts combines the known OCVs with revaluations to account for non-transaction changes in stock value.

17 OCVs also record statistical artifacts. One example is a transactor that changes sectoral classification as might occur through privatisation of a previously public sector owned corporation, or a building society that becomes a bank. Although the change in classification may be the result of transactions (such as share sales), treating the reclassification of all the assets and liabilities represented by the share value as transactions is not a satisfactory explanation of what has occurred.

18 Another statistical artifact arises in discontinuities in time series that arise because of the workloads involved in maintaining consistency over the full period of long time series. At some point in the time series the inconsistency in treatment between opening and closing stocks will be allocated to OCV rather than contaminate the transaction series.


Transactors: Institutional Units

19 The units that can engage in financial transactions, own assets and incur liabilities are known in SNA08 as institutional units. The following descriptions of institutional units is taken from Standard Economic Sector Classification of Australia, (SESCA) 2008 (cat. no. 1218.0).

20 Statistical units are businesses, government entities, households or other entities about which statistics are compiled. They are defined in a consistent way to enable users of ABS statistics to make valid comparisons of information compiled from different statistical sources and to enable composite pictures of the economy to be drawn.

21 The basic statistical unit that is classifiable by sector is the institutional unit. An institutional unit is one that is able to:
  • own or exchange goods and assets in its own right;
  • make economic decisions and engage in economic activities for which it is held directly responsible and accountable at law;
  • enter into contracts and incur liabilities on its own behalf; and
  • compile a complete set of accounts, including a statement of financial position.

22 In some instances it is statistically advantageous to recognise as separate institutional units some entities which do not meet the above criteria. Although these units do not exist as separate institutional units from their owners, and therefore are not institutional units in their own right, where they operate autonomously and keep a full set of accounts, notional institutional units are created to enable their separate collection.

23 Institutional units can be originated either formally or informally. They can be created by formally, either individually, as in the case of some government authorities through an Act of Parliament; or as a specific type of unit, as in the case of corporations through the Corporations Act 2001. The law establishes the existence of such entities as separate from their owners or members. Institutional units can also be created informally, such as a household formed by individual members sharing a dwelling.

24 The ABS statistical unit is considered to closely approximate the institutional unit as defined here.

25 There are four main types of institutional units:
  • Corporations;
  • Government units;
  • Not-for-profit institutions; and
  • Households


26 SNA08 define a corporation as:

"a legal entity, created for the purpose of producing goods and services for the market, that may be a source of profit or other financial gain to its owner(s); it is collectively owned by shareholders who have the authority to appoint directors responsible for its general management". (para 4.39)

27 SNA08 goes on to explain, corporations are typically:
  • created by processes of law that establish their existence as independent from their shareholders, including other institutional units (i.e. other corporations, household
  • unincorporated enterprises, government units and NPIs) that may own shares or other equity in the corporations;
  • created for the purpose of market production;
  • owned by shareholders who receive a distribution of profits in proportion to their shareholdings; and
  • fully accountable at law for their actions, obligations and contracts and are liable to pay taxes (i.e. they are a legal entity).

28 The company structure of corporations enables profits to be distributed to their shareholders. Examples of corporations are proprietary companies, limited liability companies and no liability companies.

29 Some incorporated entities are prohibited from distributing profits to their shareholders or members. Most companies limited by guarantee and all incorporated associations fall into this category. These types of institutional units are 'not-for-profit institutions' (NPIs) and are discussed later.

30 As noted earlier, to qualify as a corporation a unit must be a recognised legal entity. The exception to this rule is where notional institutional units are created for 'foreign branches', or unincorporated enterprises owned by non-resident units (see below for further detail on the concept of residence). To qualify as a notional institutional unit, a foreign branch must:
  • have the same relationship to its owners as a corporation has to its shareholders;
  • have a full set of accounts, including a statement of financial position; and
  • be a market operator.

31 Artificial subsidiaries and holding corporations whose activities are confined to owning the controlling level of equity in the group are not recognised as separate institutional units. For statistical purposes these are merged with the parent unit.

Government Units

32 SNA08 define a Government units as:

"Legal entities established by political processes that have legislative, judicial or executive authority over other institutional units within a given area". (para 4.117)

33 SNA 08 goes on to explain, the principal functions of government units are:
  • to provide goods and services to individuals or the community at large;
  • to redistribute income and wealth; and
  • to engage in non-market production.

34 The majority of government units are readily identifiable as their operations are mainly financed from taxation and they redistribute income by means of transfers (e.g. subsidies, grants, welfare payments) or engage in other forms of non-market production, such as the provision of government services (e.g. defence, education, health services, economic advice) free of charge or at nominal prices.

35 To qualify as a separate legal entity, a government unit must:
  • have funds of its own, raised by taxing other institutional units or received as transfers from other government units;
  • have authority to disburse some, or all, of such funds in the pursuit of its policy objectives; and
  • have authority to borrow funds on its own account.

36 Units that do not meet all of these criteria are treated as part of a larger government unit, i.e. the collective legal entity comprising all government units included in the public accounts. Included in this collective legal entity are departments and agencies operating from the public accounts of the parent government.

37 The exception to this rule is where notional institutional units are created from entities which are part of the public accounts. These are usually government entities that do not exist as separate legal entities from the collective parent government unit, but that operate autonomously in the market. To be recognised as a notional institutional unit of government a unit must:
  • have the same relationship to its owners as a corporation has to its shareholders;
  • have a full set of accounts, including a statement of financial position; and
  • be a market operator.

38 In practice notional institutional units of government will only be created where they engage in significant market activity.

39 Statutory authorities and companies created by legislation or regulation which operate outside the public accounts, along with local government authorities, qualify individually as government units.

40 In the event of dissolution of units under government control, the assets are returned to the government. As a result, units under government control do not meet the non-distribution criteria set out for NPIs detailed below.

Non Profit Institutions

41 SNA08 defines Non profit institutions (NPIs) as:

"legal or social entities created for the purpose of producing goods and services whose status does not permit them to be a source of income, profit or other financial gain for the units that establish, control or finance them." (para 4.83)

42 SNA08 goes on to explain, NPIs must have an enabling instrument which includes a clause that prohibits the NPI from distributing income, profit or other financial gain to its establishing, controlling or financing unit. This includes benefiting from the sale of assets in the event of the dissolution of the unit.

43 The productive activities of NPIs may generate either surpluses or deficits but any surpluses they make cannot be appropriated by the establishing, controlling or financing institutional unit. For this reason, they are frequently exempted from various kinds of taxes.

44 The main characteristics of NPIs are they:
  • are created by processes of law that establish the NPIs' separate existence from the units that establish, finance, control or manage them;
  • have purpose statements set out in articles of association;
  • are associations with members who have equal voting rights and limited liability with respect to the NPIs' operations;
  • cannot distribute profits to members (the term 'not-for-profit institution' reflects the embargo on distribution of financial gains and is not intended to imply that NPIs cannot make a profit); and
  • are self-governing, with their direction usually vested in a group of officers, an executive committee or a similar body elected by a majority of members.

45 A unit that is 'self-governing' is in charge of its own destiny. It is able to "dissolve itself, set and change its by-laws and alter its mission or internal structure without having to secure permission from any other authority than the normal registration officials" (Handbook on Non-profit Institutions in the System of National Accounts 2003, paragraph 2.18)

46 In the SNA08 and Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) market NPIs are considered to be corporations; non-market NPIs are combined with households rather than the separate SNA08 sector of Non Profit Institutions serving households (NPISH).


47 SNA08 defines a household as:

"a group of persons who share the same living accommodation, who pool some, or all, of their income and wealth and who consume certain types of goods and services collectively, mainly housing and food." (para 4.149)

48 SNA08 goes on to explain, individual members of households are not treated as institutional units because many assets are owned (and liabilities incurred) jointly by two or more members of a household. Income can be pooled and expenditure decisions are often made for the household as a whole. As a result, the household as a whole, including all individual members, is considered to be an institutional unit.
  • Where an unincorporated enterprise is entirely owned by a household, it is treated as an integral part of that household.
  • Some members of households engage in market production through unincorporated enterprises such as sole proprietorships, partnerships and trusts.
  • Partnerships can be comprised of partners belonging to different households.

49 The liability of the owners of unincorporated businesses is unlimited. As a result, these businesses are treated as household units since all the assets of the household, including the dwelling itself, are at risk if the enterprise goes bankrupt. The institutional unit of each household involved in the partnership therefore represents the individual members of the household as well as the share of the unincorporated partnership owned by each household.

50 The exception to this rule is where notional institutional units are created from unincorporated enterprises within household units. These are usually unincorporated enterprises that do not exist as separate legal entities from the household institutional unit, but:
  • have the same relationship to their owners as a corporation has to its shareholders;
  • have a full set of accounts, including a statement of financial position;
  • are market operators; and
  • are assessable for income tax purposes as companies.

51 Examples of the types of unincorporated enterprises recognised as notional institutional units include unincorporated financial enterprises (except for financial auxiliaries); unincorporated partnerships of companies and trading trusts; and all other unincorporated enterprises assessable for income tax purposes as companies.


52 The institutional units that are included in Australia's economic accounts are those that are Australian residents. The following passages from SESCA08 discuss residency.

53 Residence is used to define resident institutional units and to ultimately distinguish between Australia's national economy and the rest of the world. This concept underpins Australia's National Accounts and Balance of Payments statistics.

54 A unit's economic activity should be attributed to only one country based on residence. The residence of each institutional unit is the economic territory with which it has the strongest connection: its centre of predominant economic interest. An institutional unit can only be a resident of one economic territory.

55 If a unit has operated (or intends to operate) in Australia for one year or more, it is regarded as having a centre of economic interest in Australia.

Economic Territory

56 Australia's economic territory is the area under the effective control of the Australian government. It includes the land area, airspace, territorial waters, including jurisdiction over fishing rights and rights to fuels and minerals. Australian economic territory also includes territorial enclaves in the rest of the world.

57 See SESCA08 and Balance of Payments and International Investment Position: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0) for an elaboration on residency and economic territory.

Market / Non-market Activity

58 Institutional units are considered to be corporations if the operate in the market. If they are non-market operators they could be considered as government units or Non-profit institutions serving households, depending on their control characteristics.

59 Market operators are units which respond to market forces. Market operators make decisions about what to produce and how much to produce in response to expected levels of demand and expected costs of supply and are exposed to the risks associated with this production. Market operators adjust supply either with the goal of making a profit in the long run or, at a minimum, covering capital and other costs.

60 Non-market operators are not likely to respond to changes in economic conditions in the same way as market operators. Their economic behaviour is influenced by the receipt of material financial support in the form of transfers such as grants and donations.

61 See SESCA08 and SNA08 for further discussion of market/non market activity.

Classification to Economic Sector

62 Institutional units are classified to institutional sector, subsector, group and class in accordance with the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA). Additional SESCA classifications of Public / Private and where relevant Level of Government are applied to produce the building blocks for the financial accounts. Because financial transactions and other flows take place between institutional units, and financial positions are held between institutional units, the transactions, flows and positions are classified to the sectoral classification twice, once from the asset holder's point of view and the other from the liability issuer's point of view. For example household deposits with banks are classified to household sector assets and bank sector liabilities as a party/counterparty pair. The double classification is applied symmetrically for parties and counterparties to flows or positions (except for accounts payable/receivable?). Also, although non-residents are not strictly a “sector” it is useful to consider all financial positions, transactions and other flows between residents and non-residents as involving a non-resident as if the non-residents were a sector called “Rest of World”. It should be noted that the Financial Accounts are compiled at a greater level of detail for the Financial Corporations Sector than the rest of the national accounts with regard to types of financial corporation, but without the public/private and level of government dimensions. The full building block structure employed in the Financial accounts is listed in the following:


10 Non-Financial corporations
100 Non-Financial Corporations
1001 Non-Financial Investment Funds
1009 Other Non-Financial Corporations
Private Other Non-Financial Corporations
Public Non-Financial Corporations
National Public Non-Financial Corporations
State and local Public Non-Financial Corporations
21 Financial Intermediaries
211 Reserve Bank of Australia
2110 Reserve Bank of Australia
212 Depository Corporations
2121 Banks
2129 Other Depository Corporations
213 Superannuation Funds and Insurance Corporations
2131 Superannuation Funds
2132 Life Insurance Corporations
2133 Non-Life Insurance Corporations
214 214 Financial Investment Funds
2141 Money Market Funds
2142 Non-Money Market Financial Investment Funds
219 Securitisers and Other Financial Intermediaries
2191 Securitisers
2199 Other Financial Intermediaries
22 Financial Auxiliaries
220 Financial Auxiliaries
2200 Financial Auxiliaries
23 Captive Financial Institutions and Money Lenders
230 Captive Financial Institutions and Money Lenders
2301 Central Borrowing Authorities
2309 Money Lenders and Other Captive Financial Institutions
30 General Government
300 General Government
3000 General Government
National General Government
State and Local General Government
40 Households
400 Households
4000 Households
60 Rest of the World
600 Rest of the World
6000 Rest of the World

63 Comment on aggregation by consolidation, not summation.


64 This sector consists of all resident corporations and notional institutional units mainly engaged in the production of market goods and/or non-financial services and holding companies with mainly non-financial corporations as subsidiaries. Also included are NPIs that mainly engage in market production of goods and non-financial services, and investment funds investing in predominantly non-financial assets such as infrastructure and property.

Non-Financial Investment Funds

65 This class consists of all non-financial investment funds. These are collective investment schemes, such as trusts or corporations. They raise funds by issuing shares or units to the public, either via a prospectus or a distribution channel such as a platform. Investors are able to dispose of their holdings through well developed secondary markets such as the stock exchange or through readily accessible redemption facilities. The investment funds pool and invest in predominantly long-term non-financial assets such as property or infrastructure. Usually the management of the funds is undertaken by licensed fund managers external to the fund.

Private Other Non-Financial Corporations

66 This class consists of private sector controlled non-financial corporations mainly engaged in the production of market goods and/or non-financial services, other than non-financial investment funds. Non-financial corporations controlled by non-residents are classified here.

National Public Non-Financial Corporations

67 This class consists of non-financial corporations mainly engaged in the production of market goods and/or non-financial services, other than non-financial investment funds, controlled by the Commonwealth Government or any other general government body operating nationally, such as public sector universities.

State and Local Public Non-Financial Corporations

68 This class consists of non-financial corporations mainly engaged in the production of market goods and/or non-financial services, other than non-financial investment funds, controlled by State or Local general government body.


69 This sector consists of all resident corporations and notional institutional units mainly engaged in financial intermediation and provision of auxiliary financial services. Holding companies with mainly financial corporations as subsidiaries are also included, as are market NPIs that mainly engage in financial intermediation or production of auxiliary financial services.

Financial Intermediaries

70 Financial intermediaries are institutional units that engage in financial transactions in open markets by incurring liabilities for the purpose of acquiring financial assets.

Reserve Bank of Australia

71 This class includes only the RBA, which has responsibility for monetary policy, issuing banknote currency, holding Australia's international reserves, and providing banking services to the Commonwealth.

Depository Corporations

72 Deposit-taking corporations except the central bank have financial intermediation as their principal activity. To this end, they have liabilities in the form of deposits or financial instruments (such as short-term certificates of deposit) that are close substitutes for deposits. The liabilities of deposit taking corporations are typically included in measures of money broadly defined.

73 In general, the following financial intermediaries are classified in this sub-sector:
  • Commercial banks, ‘universal’ banks, ‘all-purpose’ banks;
  • Savings banks (including trustee savings banks and savings and loan associations);
  • Post office giro institutions, post banks, giro banks;
  • Rural credit banks, agricultural credit banks;
  • Co-operative credit banks, credit unions; and
  • Specialised banks or other financial corporations if they take deposits or issue close substitutes for deposits.

74 The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) includes three types of financial institution in their measures of broad money: APRA-licenced banks, other APRA-supervised authorised depository institutions, and money market investment funds. Because of the size and importance of the banks in Australia ABS compiles data for banks separately. SNA08 treats retained earnings of investment funds differently to those of corporations, and therefore there are some advantages in identifying money market investment funds separately from other broad money institutions. Thus there is a residual sector “other depository institutions” that includes non-bank, and other than money market investment funds. In principle, data can be compiled from the financial accounts for the equivalent of the RBA broad money institutions by consolidating banks, other depository corporations and money market investment funds.


75 This class consists of all financial resident financial corporations and notional institutional units which are licensed to operate as banks. They issue liabilities in the form of deposits or deposit substitutes such as short term certificates. Subsidiaries with a banking licence of foreign banks and licensed branches of foreign banks are included here.

Other Depository Corporations

76 This class consists of all authorised depository institutions other than those that are categorised as banks. Depository corporations have liabilities in the form of deposits or deposit substitutes such as short term certificates. This class includes building societies, credit unions, registered financial corporations (RFCs) such as finance companies and money-market dealers and special service corporations but excludes intra-group financiers. “Authorised” in this context means authorised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Superannuation Funds

77 This class consists of all funds that provide retirement benefits for specific groups of people. They own assets and liabilities and undertake financial transactions in the market. Included are Approved deposit funds (superannuation), Autonomous funds established for the benefit of public sector employees, Superannuation funds that are regarded as complying funds for the purposes of the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act. Superannuation funds supervised by APRA and those supervised by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) are included.

Life Insurance Corporations

78 This class consists of all corporations supervised by APRA which provide life insurance . It includes the life insurance business of Friendly Societies.

Non-Life Insurance Corporations

79 This class consists of all corporations that provide insurance cover (other than life insurance), including reinsurance services provided to other insurance corporations. APRA supervises most private sector insurers (except Health Insurers) and collects data for public sector insurers.

Financial Investment Funds

80 One of the changes introduced with SNA08 is the treatment of retained earnings of investment funds. It was argued that investors in funds can chose to withdraw earnings or reinvest earnings by withdrawing some of their equity or leaving their investment intact. In other words investors have control over earnings distribution decisions. Given these circumstances SNA08 recommends that any earnings an investment fund retains, that is does not distribute, be deemed to have been distributed and reinvested. To support this treatment separate identification of investment funds was recommended also.

81 SNA08 offers little guidance on specific criteria for determining if an institution qualifies as an investment fund. To implement the notion for Australian conditions ABS decided, in consultation with a range of users, that in order to qualify as an investment fund, the institution must:
  • have been open for investment by the public, as evidenced by prospectus or other qualifying instrument. This excludes many “wholesale” investment funds;
  • provide the ability for investors to exit the fund relatively easily, without significant financial penalty or timing delay. Funds listed on ASX fulfil this criterion, as do unlisted funds whose managers provide redemption facilities.

82 SNA08 recommends that investment funds be classified to either Money Market Funds if their liabilities are a close substitute for deposits, or Non Money Market Funds if their liabilities are not a close substitute for deposits. However, ABS disagrees that investment funds whose main assets are real estate or other non-financial assets, and whose income is from rentals or tolls rather investment earnings should be classified as financial corporations. Such investment funds are classified to a separate class of non-financial corporation.

83 In principle, a consolidated investment fund sector could be compiled by consolidating data for the three classes of investment funds included in the financial accounts.

Money Market Funds

84 This class consists of all money market funds. These are collective investment schemes, such as cash management trusts and cash common funds, that are constituted as legal entities. They raise funds by issuing shares or units to the public, either via a prospectus or a distribution channel such as a platform. The proceeds are invested primarily in money market instruments, money market shares/units, and transferable debt instruments with a residual maturity of less than one year, bank deposits, and instruments that pursue a rate of return that approaches the interest rates of money market instruments.

85 Money market fund shares or units may be regarded as a close substitute for deposits. The class includes Cash common funds, Cash management trusts and Money market funds.

Non-Money Market Financial Investment Funds

86 This class consists of all non-money market investment funds. These are collective investment schemes, such as trusts or corporations, which are constituted as legal entities. They raise funds by issuing shares or units to the public, either via a prospectus or a distribution channel such as a platform. The proceeds are used to purchase financial assets. The assets are owned by the investment fund, and usually managed by licensed fund managers external to the fund.

87 Non-money market investment fund shares or units are not close substitutes for deposits.

88 Investors are able to dispose of their units/shares on a well developed secondary market such as a stock exchange or through readily accessible redemption facilities. The class includes:
  • Funds with predominantly overseas property or infrastructure holdings
  • Listed and unlisted equity trusts (domestic and international)
  • Listed and unlisted mortgage trusts (unit trusts)
  • Listed infrastructure trusts
  • Listed investment companies
  • Non-cash common funds

89 Excluded are:
  • Investment funds which predominantly invest in non-financial assets are included in Class 1001 Non-Financial Investment Funds; and
  • Financial investment syndicates which are not open to public subscription are included in Class 2309 Money Lenders and Other Captive Financial Institutions.


90 This class consists of units which pool various types of assets such as residential mortgages, commercial property loans and credit card debt, and package them as collateral backing for bonds or short-term debt securities, referred to as asset backed securities, which are then sold to investors. There are a number of issues of detail concerning the classification of institutions as securitisers, including the nature of the “packaging”, how funds raised by issuing securities offshore are channelled back to the vehicle holding the assets, and separating securitisation specialist vehicles from more general financiers such as Registered Financial Corporations. Readers are referred to Assets and Liabilities of Australian Securitisers (cat no. 5232.0.55.001) for a discussion of these issues.

Other Financial Intermediaries

91 This class consists of all financial intermediaries not elsewhere classified. Included in this class are various housing finance schemes established by state governments to assist first home buyers and development funds and depository funds operated by religious institutions. Included are:
  • Commercial financiers
  • Co-operative housing societies
  • Economic development corporations owned by governments
  • Religious institution depository funds
  • Religious institution development funds
  • State government housing schemes

Financial Auxiliaries

92 This class consists of all units providing auxiliary financial services that are closely related to, and designed to facilitate, financial intermediation. Units in this class are not financial intermediaries because they do not incur liabilities. Included are:
  • Actuarial service providers
  • Claim adjusters and assessors
  • Commodity futures brokers or dealers
  • Derivative dealers
  • Finance brokers or consultants
  • Financial regulators not funded through government revenue
  • Flotation companies
  • Fund managers
  • Insurance agency
  • Insurance brokers or consultants
  • Loans brokers or consultants
  • Money changers
  • Securities brokers or consultants
  • Security valuations
  • Share registry
  • Stock brokers or traders
  • Stock exchange
  • Trustees or nominees

Captive Financial Institutions and Money Lenders

93 Captive financial institutions are characterised by having a balance sheet holding financial assets, usually on behalf of other companies. These institutions are usually legal entities such as corporations, trusts, or partnerships established by their parent unit for a specific and limited purpose. Captives typically have little or no employment or operations and usually do not undertake significant production.

94 Money lenders are units providing financial services where most of either their assets or liabilities are not transacted on open financial markets. Also included are units which provide financial services exclusively from their own funds, or funds provided by a sponsor, to a range of clients and incur the financial risk of the debtor defaulting.

Central Borrowing Authorities

95 93 This class consists of all Central Borrowing Authorities (CBAs) established by each state and territory government. CBAs primarily provide finance for public corporations and notional institutional units and other units owned or controlled by the government.They also arrange the investment of these unit's surplus funds. CBAs raise funds predominantly by issuing securities. They also engage in other financial intermediation activity for investment purposes, and may participate in the financial management activities of the parent government.

Money Lenders and Other Captive Financial Institutions

96 This class consists of units providing financial services, except CBAs, where most of either their assets or liabilities are not transacted on open financial markets. Also included here are units which provide financial services exclusively from their own funds, or funds provided by a sponsor, to a range of clients and incur the financial risk of the debtor defaulting. The class includes:
  • Brass-plate companies
  • Conduits
  • Corporations engaged in lending (e.g. student loans, import/export loans) from funds received from a sponsor such as a government unit or not-for-profit institution
  • Financial investment syndicates which are not open to public subscription (e.g. mortgage syndicates)
  • Holding companies with predominantly international assets and liabilities
  • Money lenders
  • Pawnshops that predominantly engage in lending
  • Shelf companies
  • Shell companies
  • Venture capital funds which do not meet the investment fund criteria


97 This class consists of government units of the Australian Government, each state and territory government, and all local government authorities. It includes:
  • Courts
  • Government departments
  • Governor General's Office
  • Public universities

98 It should be noted that Government owned corporations and notional institutional units engaged in market production are included in the relevant classes in Sector 1 Non-Financial Corporations or Sector 2 Financial Corporations.

National General Government

99 This class consists of government units of the Australian Government, and any other government units acting nationally such as public universities, courts and Government departments.

State and Local General Government

100 This class consists of government units of each state and territory government, and all local government authorities.


101 This class consists of all resident households. Included are all unincorporated enterprises that are owned and controlled by households, other than those which are recognised as notional institutional units. Also included are Non-Profit Institutions that operate mainly on a non-market basis, that is dispose of their output at economically insignificant prices and cover their costs with grants and donations. The sector includes:
  • Households
  • Partnerships
  • Sole proprietors
  • Trusts
  • Aid agencies
  • Charities
  • Consumers' associations
  • Cultural clubs
  • Learned societies
  • Political parties
  • Recreational clubs
  • Relief agencies
  • Religious institutions
  • Social clubs
  • Sports clubs
  • Trade unions

102 It should be noted that Unincorporated enterprises which qualify as notional institutional units are included in the relevant classes in Sector 1 Non-Financial Corporations and Sector 2 Financial Corporations.


103 This class consists of all non-resident units that enter into transactions with or have financial positions involving Australian resident units.


104 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

105 As described in chapter 3, an asset is defined as follows. An asset is a store of value representing a benefit or series of benefits accruing to the economic owner by holding or using the entity over a period of time. It is a means of transferring value from one accounting period to another.

106 Benefits are exchanged by means of payments. From this a financial claim, and hence a liability, can be defined. There are no non-financial liabilities recognised in the System, thus the term liability necessarily refers to a liability that is financial in nature.

107 A liability is established when one unit (the debtor) is obliged, under specific circumstances, to provide a payment or series of payments to another unit (the creditor). The most common circumstance in which a liability is established is a legally binding contract that specifies the terms and conditions of the payment(s) to be made and payment according to the contract is unconditional.

108 In addition, a liability may be established not by contract but by long and well-recognised custom that is not easily refuted. In these cases, the creditor has a valid expectation of payment, despite the lack of a legally binding contract. Such liabilities are called constructive liabilities.

109 Whenever either of these types of liability exists, there is a corresponding financial claim that the creditor has against the debtor. A financial claim is the payment or series of payments due to the creditor by the debtor under the terms of a liability. Like the liabilities, the claims are unconditional. In addition, a financial claim may exist that entitles the creditor to demand payment from the debtor but whereas the payment by the debtor is unconditional if demanded, the demand itself is discretionary on the part of the creditor.

110 Financial assets consist of all financial claims plus gold bullion held by monetary authorities as a reserve asset and shares or other equity in corporations. Gold bullion held by monetary authorities as a reserve asset is treated as a financial asset even though the holders do not have a claim on other designated units. Shares are treated as financial assets even though the financial claim their holders have on the corporation is not a fixed or predetermined monetary amount.

111 Because of the symmetry of financial claims and liabilities, the same classification can be used to portray both assets and liabilities. Further, the same classification is used in all accumulation accounts for financial transactions. Within the System, the term “instrument” may be used to relate to the asset or liability aspect of an item on the financial balance sheet.

112 The ABS financial asset classification follows that recommended in SNA08 with some adaptations. Additional classification points are employed to provide more detail for debt securities to show “domicility” of securities (issued in Australia or issued offshore) and for short-term securities to discriminate between bills of exchange (three name paper) and other securities (one name paper). In some cases the SNA08 classification embeds counterparty sector information that more properly belongs to the sector classification, and is redundant in the Australian implementation, for example F221 Interbank positions. There are some SNA08 classification points that are combined for Australia, because of lack of data or workload considerations, for example the discrimination between shares and other equity. The following table shows the SNA08 classification and the corresponding ABS classification.

ABS 5232.0

F1 Monetary gold and SDRs
2.00 Monetary gold and SDRs
F11 Monetary gold
F12 SDRs
F2 Currency and deposits
3.00 Currency and deposits
F21 Currency
3.10 Currency
F22 Transferable deposits
3.21 Transferable deposits
F221 Interbank positions
F229 Other transferable deposits
F29 Other deposits
3.22 Other deposits
F3 Debt securities
F31 Short-term
4.00 Short-term Debt Securities
F31 Short-term
4.10 Bills of Exchange
F31 Short-term
4.20 One Name Paper
F31 Short-term
4.21 One name paper issued in Australia
F31 Short-term
4.22 One name paper issued offshore
F32 Long-term
5.00 Long-term Debt Securities
F32 Long-term
5.11 Long-term Debt Securities issued in Australia
F32 Long-term
5.12 Long-term Debt Securities issued offshore
F4 Loans
6.00 Loans and Placements
F41 Short-term
6.10 Short-term loans and placements
F42 Long-term
6.20 Long-term loans and placements
F5 Equity and investment fund shares
7.00 Equity and investment fund shares
F51 Equity
F511 Listed shares
(b)7.10 Listed shares and other equities
F512 Unlisted shares
(b)7.20 Unlisted shares and other equities
F519 Other equity
F52 Investment fund shares/units
F521 Money market fund shares/units
F529 Other investment fund shares/units
F6 Insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes
8.00 Insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes
F61 Non-life insurance technical reserves
8.20 Prepayments of premiums and reserves
F62 Life insurance and annuity entitlements
(a)8.10 net equity in reserves
F63 Pension entitlements
(a)8.10 net equity in reserves
F64 Claims of pension funds on pension managers
(a)8.10 net equity in reserves
F65 Entitlements to non-pension benefits
(a)8.10 net equity in reserves
F66 Provisions for calls under standardised guarantees
F7 Financial derivatives and employee stock options
5.20 Derivatives and employee stock options
F71 Financial derivatives
F711 Options
F712 Forwards
F72 Employee stock options
F8 Other accounts receivable/payable
9.00 Other accounts receivable/payable
F81 Trade credits and advances
F89 Other accounts receivable/payable

(a) Counterparty sector implemented by sectoral classification, not instrument
(b) Other equity and shares have been combined

113 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

Monetary gold and SDRs

114 Monetary gold and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) issued by the IMF are assets that are normally held only by monetary authorities.

Monetary gold

115 Monetary gold is gold to which the monetary authorities (or others who are subject to the effective control of the monetary authorities) have title and is held a reserve assets. It comprises gold bullion (including gold held in allocated gold accounts) and unallocated gold accounts with non-residents that give title to claim the delivery of gold. All monetary gold is included in reserve assets or is held by international financial organizations. Only gold that is held as a financial asset and as a component of foreign reserves is classified as monetary gold. Therefore, except in limited institutional circumstances, gold can be a financial asset only for the central bank or central government.


116 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) are international reserve assets created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and allocated to its members to supplement existing reserve assets. The Special Drawing Rights Department of the IMF manages reserve assets by allocating SDRs among member countries of the IMF and certain international agencies (collectively known as the participants). SDRs are held exclusively by official holders, which are central banks and certain other international agencies, and are transferable among participants and other official holders. SDR holdings represent each holder’s assured and unconditional right to obtain other reserve assets, especially foreign exchange, from other IMF members. SDRs are assets with matching liabilities but the assets represent claims on the participants collectively and not on the IMF.


117 Currency consists of notes and coins that are of fixed nominal values and are issued or authorised by the central bank or government. (Commemorative coins that are not actually in circulation should be excluded as should unissued or demonetised currency.) A distinction should be drawn between domestic currency (that is, currency that is the liability of resident units, such as the central bank, other banks and central government) and foreign currencies that are liabilities of non-resident units (such as foreign central banks, other banks and governments). All sectors may hold currency as assets, but normally only central banks and government may issue currency. In some countries, commercial banks are able to issue currency under the authorisation of the central bank or government.

118 For Australia the currency asset refers solely to domestic currency. There is little foreign currency in general circulation, and significant holdings are classified as foreign deposits.


119 SNA08 does not provide a precise definition of a deposit. As a result the distinction between deposits and loans in the financial accounts is made by the convention that deposit liabilities can only be incurred by institutions included in RBA broad money, and therefore their asset counterpart is similarly restricted. Additionally, the conventions that all account balances (not evidenced by a security) between broad money institutions are classified as deposits, and that all domestic non-security borrowings by broad money institutions are classified as deposits are adopted. As a result of these conventions there are some classes of financial asset that may be described as deposits, such as account balances at State Treasuries, but are classified as loans in the financial accounts.

120 In the Financial Accounts deposits are further classified into transferable deposits and other deposits.

121 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

Transferable deposits

122 Transferable deposits comprise all deposits that are exchangeable for banknotes and coins on demand at par and without penalty or restriction and directly usable for making payments by cheque, draft, giro order, direct debit/credit, or other direct payment facility.

Other deposits

123 Other deposits comprise all claims, other than transferable deposits, that are represented by evidence of deposit. Typical forms of deposits that should be included under this classification are savings deposits (which are always non-transferable), fixed-term deposits and non-negotiable certificates of deposit. The category also covers shares or similar evidence of deposit issued by savings and loan associations, building societies, credit unions and the like. Deposits of limited transferability that are excluded from the category of transferable deposits are included here. Claims on the IMF that are components of international reserves and are not evidenced by loans should be recorded in other deposits. Repayable margin payments in cash related to financial derivative contracts (described below).

Debt Securities

124 Debt securities are negotiable instruments serving as evidence of a debt. They include bills, bonds, certificates of deposit, commercial paper, debentures, asset-backed securities, and similar instruments normally traded in the financial markets. Bills are defined as securities that give the holders the unconditional rights to receive stated fixed sums on a specified date. Bills are issued and usually traded in organized markets at discounts to face value that depend on the rate of interest and the time to maturity. Examples of short-term securities are Treasury bills, negotiable certificate of deposit, bankers’ acceptances and commercial paper. Bonds and debentures are securities that give the holders the unconditional right to fixed money incomes or contractually determined variable money incomes, that is, the earning of interest is not dependent on earnings of the debtors. Bonds and debentures also give holders the unconditional rights to fixed sums as payments to the creditor on a specified date or dates.

125 A supplementary sub-classification of debt securities by maturity into short-term and long-term should be based on the following criteria.
  • Short-term debt securities include those securities that have an original maturity of one year or less.
  • Securities with a maturity of one year or less should be classified as short-term even if they are issued under long-term facilities such as note issuing facilities.
  • Long-term debt securities include those securities that have an original maturity of more than one year.
  • Claims with optional maturity dates, the latest of which is more than one year away, and
  • Claims with indefinite maturity dates should be classified as long-term.

Short-term Debt Securities

126 For Australia most short-term debt securities on issue are discount instruments (the issue value is lower than the face value, the difference representing interest payable) with an original term to maturity ranging between 30 to 180 days. There are two basic types of securities: bills of exchange and other securities labelled one name paper by ABS.

Bills of Exchange

127 SNA08 uses the term “bankers acceptance” to describe the instrument known in Australia as a bill of exchange. The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

128 A banker’s acceptance involves the acceptance by a financial corporation, in return for a fee, of a draft or bill of exchange and the unconditional promise to pay a specific amount at a specified date. Much international trade is financed this way. Bankers’ acceptances are classified under the category of debt securities. The banker’s acceptance represents an unconditional claim on the part of the holder and an unconditional liability on the part of the accepting financial corporation; the financial corporation’s counterpart asset is a claim on its customer. Bankers’ acceptances are treated as financial assets from the time of acceptance, even though funds may not be exchanged until a later stage.

129 In Australia bills of exchange may have 3 parties to the contract, the drawer, the acceptor and the endorser (holder), hence also being known as “3 name paper”. The instrument is used not only for international trade finance, but also for liquidity management by banks, money market dealers and corporate treasuries. Because of its use and characteristics ABS compiles data for bills of exchange separately from other short-term debt securities. The data cover only those bills accepted by Australian residents.

One Name Paper

130 By contrast with bills of exchange one name paper is the liability of a single issuer and does not rely on the credit enhancement provided by acceptance. Examples are Treasury notes (issued by the Commonwealth Government), short-term negotiable bank certificates of deposit, and short-term asset-backed securities and short-term debt issued by major corporations.

131 The data is further classified by “domicility”, that is the market into which the issue was made, being in Australia or Offshore.

Long-term Debt Securities

132 Long-term debt securities include those securities that have an original maturity of more than one year. Claims with optional maturity dates, the latest of which is more than one year away, and claims with indefinite maturity dates should be classified as long-term. Many bonds on issue in Australia pay interest at a set % of face value every six months (know as “coupon interest) for the life of the bond. Such bonds are known as fixed interest bonds. However, there are a significant amount of variable rate bonds and some deep discount (or zero coupon) bonds on issue. Some other characteristics of bonds are discussed in SNA08. The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

133 Non-participating preferred stocks or shares are those that pay a fixed income but do not provide for participation in the distribution of the residual value of an incorporated enterprise on dissolution. These shares are classified as debt securities. Bonds that are convertible into equity should also be classified in this category prior to the time that they are converted.

134 Asset-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations are arrangements under which payments of interest and principal are backed by payments on specified assets or income streams. Securitisation may also be used as a term to describe this process. Asset-backed securities may be issued by a specific holding unit or vehicle, which issues securities that are sold to raise funds to pay the originator for the underlying assets. Asset-backed securities are classified as debt securities because the security issuers have a requirement to make payments, while the holders do not have a residual claim on the underlying assets; if they did, the instrument would be equity or mutual funds shares. Asset-backed securities are backed by various types of financial assets, for example, mortgages and credit card loans, non-financial assets, or by future income streams (such as the earnings of a musician or a government’s future revenue) that are not recognized in themselves as an economic asset in macro-economic statistics.

135 The data is further classified by “domicility”, that is the market into which the issue was made, being in Australia or Offshore.

Loans and Placements

136 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

137 Loans are financial assets that are created when a creditor lends funds directly to a debtor, and are evidenced by documents that are not negotiable.

138 The category of loans includes overdrafts, instalment loans, hire-purchase credit and loans to finance trade credit. Claims on or liabilities to the IMF that are in the form of loans are also included. An overdraft arising from the overdraft facility of a transferable deposit account is classified as a loan. However, undrawn lines of credit are not recognized as a liability as they are contingent. Financing by means of a financial lease may also be classified as loans. However, accounts receivable/payable, which are treated as a separate category of financial assets, and loans that have become debt securities are also excluded from loans.

139 Included in the loans category in the financial accounts are liabilities of institutions not classifiable to RBA broad money, such as State treasuries, that are described as deposits. As discussed under the deposits category, there is no clear legal distinction between loans and deposits, and ABS classifies by convention. Accordingly some of the loans are better described as “placements”.

140 Loans may be divided, on a supplementary basis, between short- and long-term loans. Short-term loans comprise loans that have an original maturity of one year or less. Loans repayable on the demand of the creditor should be classified as short-term even when these loans are expected to be outstanding for more than one year. In the financial accounts, this includes credit cards and other forms of revolving credit as well as some placements between state governments and its respective central borrowing authority.

141 Long-term loans comprise loans that have an original maturity of more than one year and which are not classified as short-term. Typically this category includes residential mortgages,

Equity and investment fund shares

142 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

143 Equity and investment fund shares have the distinguishing feature that the holders own a residual claim on the assets of the institutional unit that issued the instrument. Equity represents the owner’s funds in the institutional unit. In contrast to debt, equity does not generally provide the owner with a right to a predetermined amount or an amount determined according to a fixed formula.

144 Equity comprises all instruments and records acknowledging claims on the residual value of a corporation or quasi corporation after the claims of all creditors have been met. Equity is treated as a liability of the issuing institutional unit (a corporation or other unit).

145 Ownership of equity in legal entities is usually evidenced by shares, stocks, participations, depository receipts, or similar documents. Shares and stocks have the same meaning, while depository receipts are securities that facilitate ownership of securities listed in other economies; a depository issues receipts listed on one exchange that represent ownership of securities listed on another exchange. Participating preferred shares are those that provide for participation in the residual value on the dissolution of an incorporated enterprise. Such shares are also equity securities, whether or not the income is fixed or determined according to a formula. (Non-participating preferred shares, are treated as debt securities as explained above.)

146 Equities are sub-divided into: listed shares (F511); and unlisted shares (F512). Both listed and unlisted shares are negotiable and are therefore equity securities.

147 SNA08 also recommends that equity other than shares be tabulated separately. The data requirements and workloads associated with this recommendation are such that ABS has not followed it. SNA “Other equity” is combined with shares data in the financial accounts. In practice this means units in unit trusts are treated as shares. The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

Listed shares and other equities

148 Listed shares are equity securities listed on an exchange. They are also referred to as quoted shares. The existence of quoted prices of shares listed on an exchange means that current market prices are usually readily available.

149 In ABS statistics listed shares are restricted to those equities listed on the Australian Securities Exchanges (ASX). Data sources cannot support classification of foreign shares to listed or unlisted categories.

Unlisted shares and other equities

150 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

151 Unlisted shares are equity securities not listed on an exchange. Unlisted shares can also be called private equity; venture capital usually takes this form. Unlisted shares tend to be issued by subsidiaries and smaller scale businesses and typically have different regulatory requirements but neither qualification is necessarily the case.

Insurance, pension and standardised guarantee schemes

152 Insurance, pension and standardised guarantees schemes all function as a form of income redistribution mediated by financial institutions. The redistribution may be between individual institutional units in the same period or for the same institutional unit over different periods or a combination of the two. Units participating in the schemes contribute to them and may receive benefits (or have claims settled) in the same or later periods. While they hold the funds, insurance corporations invest them on behalf of the participants. The part of the investment income that is distributed to the participants as property income is returned as extra contributions. In all cases, net contributions or premiums are defined as actual contributions or premiums plus distributed property income less the service charge retained by the financial institution concerned. Entries in the financial account, therefore, reflect the difference between net contributions or net premiums paid to the schemes less benefits and claims paid out. Significant other additions to the reserves of the schemes come via other changes in the volume of assets and especially holding gains. There is more extensive discussion on the recording of all these schemes in chapter 17 (of SNA08).

153 There are five sorts of reserves applicable to insurance, pension and standardised guarantees schemes. These are non-life insurance technical reserves, life insurance and annuities entitlements, pension entitlements, claims of pension funds on the sponsor and provisions for calls under standardised guarantees.

154 ABS does not implement the five classification points as instrument classifications. Life insurance and annuity entitlements, pension entitlements and claims of pension funds on the sponsor are grouped as one instrument concerned mainly with retirement incomes. Context is provided by the double classification to sector of issuer/holder. Casualty insurance and standardised guarantee claims are separately classified.

Prepayments of premiums and reserves

155 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

156 Non-life insurance technical reserves consist of prepayments of net premiums and provisions to meet outstanding non-life insurance claims. They consist of premiums paid but not yet earned (called unearned premiums) and claims due but not yet settled, including cases where the amount is in dispute or the event leading to the claim has not yet been reported (called claims outstanding). The only transactions for non-life insurance technical provisions recorded in the financial account are accrual adjustments.

Net equity in reserves

157 Life insurance and annuities entitlements show the extent of financial claims policy holders have against an enterprise offering life insurance or the provision of annuities. The only transaction for life insurance and annuity entitlements recorded in the financial account is the difference between net premiums receivable and claims payable.

158 Pension entitlements show the extent of financial claims both existing and future pensioners hold against either their employer or a fund designated by the employer to pay pensions earned as part of a compensation agreement between the employer and employee. The only transaction for pension entitlements recorded in the financial account is the difference between net contributions receivable and benefits payable. The increase in pension entitlements shown in the financial account matches the entry in the use of income accounts for the change in pension entitlements.

159 An employer may contract with another unit to manage the pension funds for his employees. Depending on the nature of the agreement between them, the contractor may have an obligation to repay any surplus funds or, more probably, have a claim on the employer for any deficit. When this occurs, the claim of the pension fund on the employer or other sponsor is shown under this heading. (The entry may be positive if the pension fund makes more investment income from the pension entitlements it holds than is necessary to cover the increase in entitlements and the difference is due to the sponsor of the schemes.)

Provisions for calls under standardised guarantees

160 Provisions for calls under standardised guarantees consist of prepayments of net fees and provisions to meet outstanding calls under standardised guarantees. The transactions for provisions for calls under standardised guarantees schemes recorded in the financial account are similar to the reserves for non-life insurance; they include unearned fees and calls not yet settled.

161 There are no known instances of standardised guarantees to record in the Australian financial accounts.

Derivatives and employee stock options

162 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

163 Financial derivatives are financial instruments that are linked to a specific financial instrument or indicator or commodity, through which specific financial risks can be traded in financial markets in their own right. The value of a financial derivative derives from the price of the underlying item: the reference price. The reference price may relate to a commodity, a financial asset, an interest rate, an exchange rate, another derivative or a spread between two prices. The derivative contract may also refer to an index or a basket of prices.

164 An employee stock option is an agreement made on a given date (the “grant” date) under which an employee may purchase a given number of shares of the employer’s stock at a stated price (the “strike” price) either at a stated time (the “vesting” date) or within a period of time (the “exercise” period) immediately following the vesting date. Transactions in employee stock options are recorded in the financial account as the counterpart to the element of compensation of employees represented by the value of the stock option. Ideally the value of the option should be spread over the period between the grant date and vesting date; if this is not possible they may have to be recorded at the vesting date. Thereafter, transactions are recorded at exercise date or, if they are tradeable and are actually traded, between the vesting date and the end of the exercise period.

165 In the Australian financial accounts data are not available to separately classify derivatives by type.

166 Margins are payments of cash or collateral that cover actual or potential obligations under financial derivatives, especially futures or exchange-traded options. Repayable margins consist of deposits or other collateral deposited to protect a counterparty against default risk, but that remain under the ownership of the unit that placed the margins. Although its use may be restricted, a deposit is classified as repayable if the depositor retains the risks and rewards of ownership.

167 Repayable margin payments in cash are transactions in deposits, not transactions in a financial derivative. The depositor has a claim on the exchange or other institution holding the deposit. Some compilers may prefer to classify these margins within other accounts receivable/payable in order to reserve the term deposits for monetary aggregates.

168 In the Australian financial accounts margins on derivatives are recorded as loans rather than deposits.

Other accounts receivable/payable

169 In the Australian financial accounts it is not possible to separate the two categories of accounts payable/receivable discussed in SNA08, or into short- and long-term

170 The following descriptions of financial asset classes are quoted from the System of National Accounts, 2008 (SNA08).

171 This category comprises trade credit for goods and services extended to corporations, government, NPISHs, households and the rest of the world, and advances for work that is in progress (if classified as such under inventories) or is to be undertaken. Trade credits and advances do not include loans to finance trade credit, which are classified as loans. It may be valuable to separate short-term trade credits and advances from long-term trade credit and advances by employing the same criteria used to distinguish between other short- and long-term financial assets.

172 This category includes accounts receivable and payable, other than those described previously, that is the amounts are not related to the provision of goods and services. It covers amounts related to taxes, dividends, purchases and sales of securities, rent, wages and salaries, and social contributions. Interest that accrues but is not paid is included in this item only if the accrued interest is not added to the value of the asset on which the interest is payable (as is usually the case).


173 The quarterly sectoral capital accounts in the flow of funds matrices are prepared using a variety of indicators to dissect annual estimates based on survey data. Some of the indicators used are known to be of poor quality and hence these estimates should be used with caution.

174 Most of the financial data in this publication are derived from statistical surveys conducted by the ABS. Some other data sources are used particularly for valuation adjustments. The information sources for each of the sectors and subsectors are described below. Because there are two parties to financial transactions, 'counterpart' information about groups of units can be derived from the records of other units with which they have engaged in financial transactions. Instances of use of counterpart information in compiling the statistics are noted in the following text.

Non-financial investment funds

175 Balance sheet data for listed and unlisted property trusts which are open to the general public are obtained from an ABS quarterly survey of public unit trusts. Counterpart information is sourced from administrative sources, market capitalisation information from the Australian Stock Exchange, and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment.

Private other non-financial corporations

176 Because there are so many of these enterprises, estimates for this sector are derived from data obtained from several different sources, including counterpart information from banks, market capitalisation information from the Australian Stock Exchange, and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment. Balance sheet data are obtained directly from the largest company groups.

National public non-financial corporations

177 The largest of these report in the ABS's quarterly Survey of Financial Information.

State and local public non-financial corporations

178 As most financing by these bodies is conducted through the central borrowing authorities (which report to the ABS), counterpart information is sourced for all except the largest State corporations, which provide quarterly balance sheet information to the ABS. Annual reports of the State and Territory housing commissions are used to estimate their financial position.

Central Bank

179 The Reserve Bank provides a full balance sheet each quarter. However, there are timing and other differences with other information available to the ABS. To achieve the necessary consistency between the different data sources, the ABS has used some counterpart information extensively in preparing the estimates for this sub-sector. Accordingly, the information presented in this publication for the Reserve Bank does not reflect the legal position of the Bank. The main data difficulties are as follows.
  • Some items on the RBA's balance sheet are valued as at the Wednesday closest to the end of the quarter. This is inconsistent with information provided both by the Commonwealth Department of Finance and the commercial banks which close off their accounts on the last working day of the quarter. Because of the large sums passing through the RBA's accounts, this difference in accounting period would have caused timing errors in the financial accounts had RBA data been used.
  • The RBA records entries in the Commonwealth Government's account when cheques are presented for payment but the Commonwealth Department of Finance makes these entries in its books when the cheques are drawn, which is likely to be several days earlier. Because of the large amounts involved, banking float at the start and end of each quarter is from time to time a serious problem in this sub-sector.


180 At the end of each month each bank provides APRA with a balance sheet which consolidates only the activities of its domestic banking businesses. (Other domestic businesses of banks-such as their finance companies-report separately and are classified to the appropriate subsector).

Other depository corporations

181 Arrangements for reporting data have varied over the years. Current reporting arrangements are:
  • Non-bank Authorised Depository Corporations (mainly credit unions and building societies) report balance sheet data to APRA quarterly, with the larger ones reporting monthly
  • Registered Financial Corporations report balance sheet data to APRA monthly (larger corporations) and quarterly (smaller corporations)
  • cash management trusts report balance sheet data to ABS quarterly.

Life insurance offices

182 The ABS Survey of Financial Information collects balance sheet information from the large life corporations. This information is supplemented by data provided by APRA, which requires all privately owned life insurance corporations to provide it with assets and liabilities information quarterly. Large friendly societies provide quarterly balance sheet information to the ABS.

Pension funds

183 Arrangements for reporting of data have varied over the years. Current arrangements are:
  • funds with assets of greater than $50m are regulated by APRA (referred to as "large APRA funds") and report quarterly in a survey conducted by APRA;
  • funds with assets of $50m or less are regulated by APRA (referred to as "small APRA funds") and report annually in a survey conducted by APRA. APRA provides quarterly estimates of assets, by applying estimated coverage rates and annual growth rates; and
  • funds regulated by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) (self-managed superannuation funds) provide annual data to ATO. Quarterly estimates of assets are compiled by ATO using a model outlined on their website (see http://www.ato.gov.au/superfunds/content.asp?doc=/content/00164327.htm)

184 These data are supplemented by an ABS collection from professional fund managers, which report the quarterly asset breakdown of the pension funds they manage (i.e. the indirectly invested funds).

Non-life insurance corporations

185 All private general insurance companies are required to provide a quarterly statement of assets and liabilities to APRA. The ABS uses this information, supplemented by its own quarterly survey of government-owned general insurers. Data for health insurance companies are estimated from annual statistics provided by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC).

Money market financial investments funds

186 Balance sheet data for money market financial investment funds are obtained from an ABS quarterly survey. Counterpart information is sourced from administrative sources, market capitalisation information from the Australian Stock Exchange, and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment.

Non-money market financial investment funds

187 Balance sheet data for non-money market financial investment funds are obtained from an ABS quarterly survey. Counterpart information is sourced from administrative sources, market capitalisation information from the Australian Stock Exchange, and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment.

Central borrowing authorities

188 Data are provided to the ABS on a quarterly basis by all central borrowing authorities.


189 Balance sheet data for securitisers are obtained from an ABS quarterly survey. Counterpart information is sourced from administrative sources and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment.

Other financial corporations

190 Balance sheet data for other financial corporations are obtained from an ABS quarterly survey. Counterpart information is sourced from administrative sources, market capitalisation information from the Australian Stock Exchange, and aggregate data from the ABS Survey of International Investment.

191 The various government-owned financial institutions included in this sector provide quarterly balance sheet information to the ABS.

192 Security brokers' own-account holdings of financial assets are estimated.

National general government

193 The asset profile for this subsector is prepared using information collected from:
  • an ABS-maintained database of government securities constructed from information provided by the RBA and private sector pricing data
  • Department of Finance quarterly ledgers provided to ABS
  • information counterpartied into this subsector, for example bank deposits
  • information on coin liability is provided by the Reserve Bank.

State and local general government

194 Data for the State governments are obtained from the State Treasuries and state and Territory central borrowing authorities.

195 No data are collected for local governments, universities or other educational institutions as most of their funding comes from other government agencies and estimates are derived using counterpart information.

Households, including unincorporated enterprises

196 The ABS does not collect balance sheet information from households and small unincorporated businesses. Estimates for a large part of this sector are made using counterpart information and all other information for the sector is derived residually (ie as an amount that balances the tables).

197 The ABS has no information about households' holdings of notes and coin. The estimates that appear in these statistics are made by taking the value of notes and coin outside the banking system and allocating half of this amount to households and the other half to private non-financial corporations.

Rest of the world

198 The data for the rest of the world in Table 21 are financial transactions between residents of Australia and residents of the rest of the world. The flow of funds information for the rest of the world is similar to the data published as the financial account in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0). The main source of data for the Balance of Payments financial account and the rest of the world sector in this publication is the ABS Survey of International Investment. In the Financial Accounts the information is presented from the point of view of non-residents; assets are not netted against liabilities (nor conversely).


199 The levels (stock) tables are prepared by gathering together balance sheet information from various sources and selecting the better estimates. As noted previously, a choice is often possible because different data sources provide alternative or counterpart measures of the same item. For example, borrowing by state owned non-financial corporations will be reported by the state central borrowing authorities or Treasuries as assets and by the non-financial corporations as liabilities. The subsector aggregates derived from these data do not agree because the ABS does not survey all state owned non-financial corporations. In this case, the data from the central borrowing authorities and Treasuries are therefore used to estimate both the asset and liability aspects of these borrowings.

200 After the levels data have been finalised, net financial transactions are derived by taking the difference between closing and opening levels of balance sheet items and, where possible, eliminating changes on the balance sheet caused by valuation effects such as exchange rate movements.

201 In some cases, directly-collected transactions data are used instead of deriving transactions from the difference in consecutive levels.


202 SNA08 states explicitly that the national accounts should record transactions on an accrual basis (as opposed to a cash or 'due for payment' basis), to reflect the time when economic value is transferred rather than when cash relating to the transaction is paid or falls due for payment. For practical reasons complete implementation of accrual accounting throughout the national accounts is not yet possible. Some areas where accrual accounting has not been adopted include: accrual of household income tax accrual of certain employee entitlements, including recreation and long service leave.

203 Furthermore, non-financial corporate enterprises may report on an accrual basis for the quarter that coincides with the end of their tax year (usually June), but are less likely to do so for the other quarters. This causes some distortion in the data for the two quarters surrounding the end of the tax year.

204 SNA08 states that assets and liabilities are to be valued using a set of prices that are current on the date to which the balance sheet relates and that refer to specific assets. These prices should be observable prices on markets whenever such prices are available for the assets and liabilities in question.

205 In these statistics tradeable securities, which include shares listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and debt securities traded on organised markets, are valued at market prices.

206 Other securities are assigned estimated market values. For example, equity not listed on ASX is valued on the basis of value of total assets of the enterprise in question less the value of any repayable liabilities.

207 Respondents to ABS surveys are asked to mark each derivative contract to net market value. Such values may result in net asset or liability value being recorded for the contract.
  • Deposits, loans and other accounts payable/receivable are recorded at their face value.
  • Insurance technical reserves of life and general insurance corporations are estimated based on the values compiled for those corporations' assets and repayable liabilities.
  • Insurance technical reserves of pension funds are valued on the basis of market value of total assets (including non financial assets) of the funds less any repayable liabilities.

Valuation and Other Accounting Rules

208 SNA08 makes recommendations about valuation and other accounting rules to ensure consistency across the various accounts.

Consistency with Commercial Accounting Standards

209 The SNA builds on commercial accounting standards but has some important differences worth noting. A significant difference is that the commercial accounting standards are based on a double entry method, whilst the SNA employs a quadruple entry method. This arises from the SNA requirement to treat transactions, other flows and positions symmetrically for the parties involved. Thus a sale of goods in exchange for cash involves four entries in the SNA accounts, all of the same value: for the seller the entries required are + sales (income account), + cash (financial account) and for the purchaser + purchases (expenditure), - cash (financial account). From this example it can be seen that income=expenditure and that financial transactions (net lending) sums to zero as a result of the exchange, all for the same time period. By contrast the commercial accounting standards address the entries for the purchaser and seller as separate phenomena with no requirement for consistency of recognition, valuation or timing.

210 Another way of looking at the same question is that the commercial accounting standards employ a different accounting entity to the SNA: commercial accounting is concerned with outcomes for individual companies or groupings of companies, governments, unincorporated entities etc. SNA is concerned with outcomes for the economy as a whole and its institutional sectors. Some important considerations emerge from this difference. Commercial accounting standards can be a starting point for assembly of data in an SNA framework, but at some point measurement choices will be required between different views of the same transactions. A stark example is measurement of accrued tax liabilities of corporations, and accrued company tax revenue of government. In principle these should be the same, but the sum of the tax provisions of corporations is most unlikely to equal the value recorded by the government, due to many different people making different assumptions about the elements involved in estimating tax liability/revenue. Additionally, the assumptions made may not be in accordance with SNA accrual rules. It should be no surprise that the SNA estimates are often different to assessments made by both tax payers and tax receivers.

211 Further differences arise from the account structure. There are no direct equivalents in commercial accounting standards to the distinction between income, capital transactions and financial transactions on the one hand, and the distinction between transactions, revaluation and other changes of volume, on the other. Thus SNA requires "unbundling" and reclassification of transactions and other flows from entries in commercial accounting that may combine the various elements that impact commercial profits. In the context of the financial accounts these differences in objectives between commercial accounting and SNA can sometimes result in issues of provider burden when data are sought on an SNA basis from accounting systems not designed to support that objective. A stark example of this is accounting for financial derivatives, where commercial accounting concentrates on measuring net gains/losses (changes in value) from a portfolio rather than separating changes of value into income transactions, financial transactions and revaluation components required by SNA. Under these circumstances the national accountant has to resort to modelled estimates.

212 Associated with differences in income recognition are the differences in the treatment of “provisions” made in commercial accounts for future eventualities. Some of these provisions, for example provisions for employee leave entitlements, are recognised in SNA as actual accrued expenses. Others are less certain, and moreover, with the SNA requirement for symmetry between transactors the assessment of certainty, the recognition and/or valuation of the eventuality, is unlikely to be the same for the counterparties. An example of this is the treatment of possible impairments on loan assets. Many institutions make a general provision for loan losses based on known characteristics of the loan portfolio and its performance over time. Because the provision is general, the specific loan contracts, and therefore counterpart liability incurrers, are not identifiable, making it conceptually difficult to record such a provision in the SNA accounting structure. By contrast, specific provisions for impairment arising from poor performance of an individual loan contract are more certain as to likely occurrence and counterparty identification. Because of this the Australian financial accounts takes into account specific loan loss provisions in valuing loan portfolios and their counterparts, but not general loan loss provisions. Note this treatment varies from SNA08 which recommends recording loan portfolios and their counterparts at nominal values (i.e. not recognising any loan loss provisions).


213 Aggregation of financial data poses some questions. An aggregate derived by simple summation of, say, liabilities observations runs the risk of misinterpretation through double counting. Consider a State Treasury that borrows funds by issuing debt securities and on-lends them to other State government agencies. Summing the liabilities of all agencies and the Treasury for that State government will double count the borrowings. Two possible solutions to this problem include netting assets and liabilities for the State government and consolidation of assets and liabilities by eliminating asset/liability relationships between entities in the State government. Both solutions provide the correct aggregate result, but the process of netting loses explanatory detail, in this case by netting debt security liabilities with loan assets. ABS has preferred a consolidation procedure, even though more data are needed to support it.

214 Consolidation outcomes are sensitive to the domains within which the practice is to be pursued. In commercial accounting consolidation is usually undertaken to eliminate double counting in the aggregate accounts for a group of companies. That is the consolidation domain is determined by relatedness criteria specified in legislation and accounting standards. However, it is useful to form consolidation domains for economic analysis purposes based on other than relatedness criteria. In the formal sectoral presentation of the financial accounts all transactions and positions between entities in the same subsector or each successive aggregation of subsectors is eliminated. Consider a bank that incurs a deposit liability and in turn places the funds on deposit with another, but unrelated, bank. The question of “what is the value of bank sector deposits” is most properly answered from a sectoral behaviour point of view by consolidation (elimination) of the intra-bank sector deposit. One consequence of this type of consolidation is that aggregation of subsectors to broad sectors, say all subsectors of the financial corporations sector, will produce smaller results than the simple summation of the components. Consolidation of financial accounts for all domestic sectors to a whole of economy aggregate will result in an exact counterpart to the Rest of World accounts.

215 For some types of economic analysis the formal sectoral consolidation has some drawbacks. For financial market analysis, say, for determining potential for issuing various instruments, it is useful to know the gross rather than net size of the market. Thus for the financial accounts presentation of financial markets data the entries eliminated in the example given above are retained. The bank deposits markets table will disclose the value of bank deposits with banks.

216 It should be pointed out that the Australian financial accounts take consolidation practices further than SNA08 recommendations.


217 A key principle for SNA08 is to record transactions at the values that were actually exchanged and positions at realisable values rather than cost. In practice this means use of market valuation consistently. A consequence is the role that the revaluations account has in reconciling asset price changes during a period with stock values at the end of each period. In line with market valuation principles, assets denominated in foreign currency are valued by converting to domestic currency at prevailing foreign exchange rates.

218 For financial assets tradeable on active markets market valuation poses few measurement problems. However, for non-tradeable assets there are no observable market prices. Various proxies for market prices can be used, including pricing by analogy to a similar but tradeable asset and estimation of asset value by discounting expected future income streams over the life of the asset by an appropriate interest rate. For unlisted equity, market value may be proxied by netting the relevant entities known market asset values less known market values of repayable liabilities to derive a net asset value. In some cases there is little choice other than to use cost or nominal values.

The Effects of Market Practices

219 Certain market practices result in commercial accounting data that are difficult to interpret within an SNA08 accounting framework. These arise through differences in objectives and/or the requirements for symmetrical treatment and valuation under SNA that is not required under commercial accounting. Many of the difficulties arise from the general approach to commercial accounting known as “exposure accounting” or “hedge accounting”. Under this approach the emphasis is on the net effect of various contractual obligations on profits and net worth. While this is the standard objective of commercial accounting, the notion is extended by bundling together a contracts associated with a particular deal or strategy and recording the net results at that level of detail.

220 An example of this practice is accounting for contracts that involve foreign exchange risk, for example issue of debt security liabilities denominated in US dollars issued to investors in the USA, bundled with the contracts that hedge that foreign currency risk, for example a US dollar / Australian dollar financial derivative, negotiated with an Australian bank. The outcome of this bundling is that there is no foreign currency exposure resulting from the combination. The problem that bundling poses for recording in the financial accounts is that the it is netting two contracts with different contractual parties that are in different sectors (in this example they are in different countries) where one contract is a liability, and the other is in an asset position potentially. The bundled result cannot be sensibly aggregated with any particular asset class or under any sector classification, and hence cannot contribute usefully to economic analysis.

221 More extreme examples of exposure reporting may be imposed by some administrative/regulatory reporting regimes where the concern is risk assessment of individual corporations. An example of exposure reporting is classification of investments in equity securities, say units in an investment trust, to the asset class of the “underlying” risk, say, “real estate” if the major asset of the investment trust is real estate. The financial accounts is concerned with recording contractual obligations at current values and not with risk adjusted accounting.

222 Another example of bundling of contracts for a net result is the notion of structured finance, where various combinations of debt, equity and derivatives can be bundled to give a tailored outcome, quite often associated with tax effective outcomes. The results can also be represented as “hybrid” or “synthetic” securities. Another practice with similar aims is “stapled securities”.

223 Another set of practices that bundle together a number of contracts that may be represented as one are those of “stock lending” and “repurchase agreements”. Whilst stock lending and repurchase agreements are different types of arrangements, the impact on the financial accounts is essentially the same. Both involve the sale of a security with an obligation to reverse the transaction at a future date, thus imposing an obligation to sell back / buy back the same or similar securities on the parties. There are two ways of looking at this transaction: one is that economic effect where the arrangement looks like a loan of cash and the original security holder continues to have the benefits of ownership of the security sold; the other is the legalities of the arrangement where the parcel of securities change ownership and an additional forward contract comes into existence. In this instance SNA08 recommends the economic effect treatment, whereas ABS has treated such arrangements on the legalities, that is unbundling the component contracts to the arrangement. The reason for so-doing is that the securities originally “lent” can be on-sold to a third party. This will result in double counting of the same bundle of securities, and a difficult to explain negative security asset by the security borrower if the double count is to be avoided.

224 For the financial accounts the data in respect of structured products, bundled products and contracts reported under exposure methods is to unbundle and classify the components on the basis of the legalities of the situation, not the economic effect. The overall economic effect of such contracts will be reflected in the aggregate balancing items in the national accounts that will reflect accurately the operating surplus, property income flows, financial transactions, revaluations and net worth that result and also provide the basis for how those outcomes evolved.

Symmetric application of market valuations

225 The difference between commercial accounting standards and SNA08 with regards to the accounting entity (corporations/groups vs. sectors/economy) generates some tensions for data that have sensitive policy implications. An example of this is the accounting for government debt and interest in a situation where the debt is widely traded. The market value of fixed interest debt securities is sensitive to changes in the interest yield curve and the value will adjust such that effective yields on securities adjust to match those indicated by the market, that is the yield curve. This creates some tension about what valuation to use for government liabilities particularly when governments have no control of market dynamics resulting in yield curve changes and government revenue and expenditures are a legislated constraint, such as for EEC countries under the Maastricht Treaty.

226 The result of a long debate about this issue, is that SNA93, and reaffirmed in SNA08, recommends that interest on debt securities be recorded in accordance with the “debtor principle”. Under this principle, interest payments are the contractual payments evidenced by the “coupon” payable in these contracts. To the extent that coupon interest is not aligned with market yields, the market value of the debt securities will adjust, downwards if coupon is less than market yield and upwards if coupon is greater than market yield. There are some difficulties implementing the debtor principle for securities where the contractual interest is variable through referencing external indicators.

227 The alternative to the debtor principle is to use market values and interest yields consistently. This is called the “creditor principle” in the debate. Not only is the creditor principle conceptually coherent, it also copes with variable interest instruments. The adjustment in value of debt securities is seen as a financial transaction (new issue if increase, repayment if decrease) under this scenario. The downside is that government debt value and interest expenditure can change not through the activity of governments but by variations in the market. ABS will continue to apply the creditor principle in the national accounts as a whole, including the financial accounts.


228 Deficiencies in the capital account of the matrix: the estimates of saving shown in the capital account are derived residually as the balances in the national income account. Hence any errors and omissions in the estimates of income and expenditure are reflected as inaccuracies in the estimates of saving. Also, the estimates of inter-sectoral transfers of real estate and second-hand assets are known to be of poor quality.

229 Deficiencies in the coverage of financial surveys: The ABS does not presently collect balance sheet information from small non-financial corporations, solicitors' and similar trust funds, and financial auxiliaries (such as stock brokers), some of which buy securities on their own account. Although broad information reported by professional fund managers includes funds they invest on behalf of such investors, the fund managers provide asset profiles only for monies they invest on behalf of pension funds. If the coverage deficiency were not corrected it would cause errors in some of the estimates for the household sector. As an interim measure the ABS has made estimates for these unreported assets using the partial information reported by fund managers.

230 The ABS is aware of the following deficiencies in reported data:
  • There are some classification and timing problems in the data being reported by some large banks
  • The quality of the data for the Other depository corporations sector is only fair
  • The data for the rest of the world are of only fair quality because of deficiencies in coverage, classification and valuation
  • Stock lending, repurchase agreements, and short selling in securities markets-and inconsistent treatment of these practices by respondents-are causing some double counting of asset records for some types of securities
  • The ABS believes that derivative and synthetic financial products are being treated inconsistently
  • The estimates of the stock of issued shares of unlisted private non-financial corporations are very poor
  • For the convenience of survey respondents the information collected in the ABS survey of private non-financial corporations is consolidated for groups of companies. Hence it is not possible to show-for example-loans between group members as part of the long term loan market (Table 31). Similarly, as the ABS does not survey households, loans between households are also not shown in these statistics.

231 Problems in estimating financial transactions from balance sheet information: The revaluation data available to the ABS for frequently traded securities are of reasonable quality. These include estimates for listed shares and Commonwealth and State government bonds/bills. The revaluation data available for securities that are less frequently traded, such as unlisted shares, are of only fair quality.

232 Accuracy of the estimates, conclusion: Despite the described problems, the ABS considers that these statistics are of an acceptable standard for the purposes they are intended to serve. An indication of the overall quality of the data can be gained by considering the levels information for the household sector (Table 20), which are judged by the ABS to be the poorest quality data in the publication. All the liabilities data are good quality counterpart data from the asset records of financial institutions. In addition, households' deposit and loan assets are measured directly elsewhere and 'counterparted' into this sector. Only households' holdings of tradeable securities are derived residually and so reflect errors and omissions in the estimates for the other sectors. Households' holdings of shares are the lowest grade estimate in these statistics. A high proportion of the household data are therefore of high quality despite being considered of poorer quality than the balance of the statistics.

Related statistics and articles

233 Related ABS publications which may also be of interest include:
234 Related articles are listed in the following table:


Household sector balance sheet - A National Accounts perspective
Notes on impacts of major revisions
Jun qtr 2002
Household sector data in the financial accounts
Mar qtr 2002
Recent trends in construction and first home buyer finance
March 2002
Insurance technical reserves: Sources and methods
Mar qtr 2001
Venture Capital Survey
Dec qtr 2000
Investment managers
Jun qtr 2000
Listed equity: Sources and methods
Dec qtr 1999
Investment managers
Jun qtr 1999
Investment managers
Jun qtr 1998


235 An explanation of how to interpret the statistical tables is given below:

Table 1

236 Table 1 (Credit Market Outstandings) of the financial accounts shows the key liabilities of each of the domestic non-financial sectors. Included are borrowings, debt securities, and equities.

237 All 'off-market' funding arrangements are excluded. For example:
  • Liabilities of the financial sector are excluded because of the role of the financial institutions in the economy - they borrow in order to lend
  • National government financial arrangements with State governments
  • National government financial arrangements with public trading enterprises (either National or State)
  • State government financial arrangements with public trading enterprises (either National or State)
  • financial arrangements between related corporations in the same subsector.

238 Excluded also are non-conventional instruments, including:
  • Deposits and insurance technical reserves, as these are with the financial sector
  • Derivatives, as these are normally for hedging purposes, not fund raising
  • Sundry accounts payable, as these are generally incurred through normal trading activities
  • Unfunded superannuation liabilities, as these are incidental to employment.

Table 2

239 This table, called Demand for Credit, is the flow equivalent of Table 1 and so has the same exclusions. It shows quarterly net raisings of debt and equity on conventional credit markets world wide by each of the non-financial domestic sectors. The aggregate at the head of the table is a measure of the primary credit flow in Australia, that is, credit which is to be used primarily to finance non-financial outlays such as investment in plant and equipment.

Tables 3-20

240 These tables show the level (stock) of financial assets and liabilities of each domestic subsector of the economy at market prices. Since the aim of these tables is to present an analytically useful financial profile of each of the subsectors, they are consolidated to eliminate holdings of financial instruments by the subsector which issued them. For example, the block Bonds etc in the table for Central borrowing authorities (Table 15) shows the stock of bonds etc held as assets by this subsector. A central borrowing authority may be expected to hold long-term debt securities issued by other central borrowing authorities but these holdings are eliminated on consolidation (and the outstanding liability of this subsector for this instrument is reduced accordingly). In contrast, in the table called The Bonds Market (Table 28) a different basis of consolidation is used and these intra-sector holdings are shown (and shown to be substantial).

241 In Tables 3-20, the primary classification is the financial instrument (e.g. Currency and deposits) and the secondary classification is counterparty sector (e.g. currency and deposits accepted by: Banks).

242 Statistics for the financial assets and liabilities of subsectors of the non-financial public sector (Tables 5, 6, 18 and 19) are broadly comparable with statistics published in Government Finance Statistics, Australia (cat. no. 5501.0.55.001).

243 These tables now also include transactions. They show inter-sectoral transactions in financial assets and liabilities classified by financial instrument. Most instruments are disaggregated to show the subsector of the counterparty. For example, the line Loans and placements in the table for Other depository corporations (Table 9) shows the growth (or contraction) in lending by these financial institutions to the other subsectors.

244 In these tables, an entry without an arithmetic sign indicates a net increase in either financial assets or liabilities. An entry with a negative sign indicates a net decrease in financial assets or liabilities.

Table 21

245 Australia's net international investment position-level of investment at end of period-as published in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0) can be derived from Table 21.

246 Financial Assets and Liabilities of the Rest of the World. It is equal to total financial assets (of non-residents) less total liabilities (of non-residents).

247 When comparing the data in Tables 26 and 27 as published in cat. no. 5302.0 and data in Table 21 in this publication, it is important to note the following differences.
  • In this publication, assets and liabilities are published from the perspective of the party concerned. For example, in relation to non-residents, financial assets and liabilities are shown as belonging to the rest of world sector. In cat. no. 5302.0, such data are published from the opposite perspective, ie as Australian assets and liabilities that have non-resident counterparties. This difference affects comparisons of the statistics only in as much that the arithmetic signs attributed to assets and liabilities are opposite in the two publications.
  • This publication does not include the split made in cat. no. 5302.0 between direct and portfolio investment. This affects comparison between data in the publications because direct investment (including equity, borrowing and trade credit) between related companies is published on a net basis in cat. no. 5302.0 and is recorded on a gross basis in Table 21.
      The above points are illustrated in the example below:
        • A hypothetical company, ZZZ Corporation, operating in Australia is owned by a UK company, YYY Corporation. ZZZ Corporation has previously borrowed $500 million from its parent, but also lent $100 million to a related company overseas (e.g. another subsidiary of the same parent).
        • In cat. no. 5302.0, YYY Corporation's equity in ZZZ Corporation would be included in the Table 33, Levels of Foreign Investment in Australia under Direct investment in Australia-equity. The borrowing would also be included in Table 33, under the category Direct investment in Australia - other capital - liabilities to direct investors, as equal to the amount of $400 million ($500 less $100).
        • In this publication, the equity would be included in Table 21, under Financial assets - equity. The borrowing would be displayed under Financial assets - loans and placements as equal to $500 million, and the loan would be included in Financial Liabilities - loans and placements as equal to $100 million.
  • This publication includes more detailed sector and instrument splits than provided in cat. no. 5302.0.
  • This publication includes the reserve position in the IMF in currency and deposits, whereas, in cat. no. 5302.0, the reserve position is shown as a separate item.

    248 Note: In September quarter, 2009 the treatment of reinvested earnings that is applied in SNA08 and ABS balance of payments and international investment position statistics was adopted in the financial accounts and is applied throughout this publication.

    Table 22

    249 This table presents the flow of funds matrix. The purpose of the matrix is to provide a framework for analysing the interrelationships between saving, capital formation and financial transactions in the economy. These national accounting relationships are shown in the accompanying diagram.

    250 At the top of the matrix is a capital account. This shows the funds accumulated during the period by each of the sectors for the purchase of assets (Gross saving and capital transfers) together with estimates of expenditure on capital accumulation and the resulting positive or negative balance (Total net capital accumulation and net lending/net borrowing). A surplus in this account is called net lending; by convention a deficit (i.e. net borrowing) is shown as negative net lending.

    251 The lower half of the matrix is called the financial account. This shows the net financial transactions taking place between sectors, classified broadly by financial instrument. These data are the most consolidated in the publication. All claims between entities within the same broad institutional sector (e.g. General government) are eliminated.

    252 The lines under the heading Net incurrences of liabilities show the growth (or decline) in the market for each of the financial instruments during the period, by sector. The lines under the heading Net acquisition of financial assets show the increase (or decrease) of asset holdings by sector to accommodate the growth (or contraction) in the market.

    253 In concept, a sector's Net lending/borrowing (in the capital account) should be the same as its Net change in financial position (in the financial account). Because this equality is unlikely to be realised in practice (due to the use of different sources of information to derive each aggregate) the item Net errors and omissions is included to show the difference between these alternative estimates of the same concept. This difference can be caused by errors and omissions in both the capital account and the financial account.

    254 Given the accounting relationship between saving and net lending evident in the accompanying diagram, it is possible to use information from the financial accounts to derive an alternative measure of household saving to that published in the national income and expenditure accounts. This can be done by substituting Change in financial position for the household sector from the financial accounts for net lending in the following identity, relating to the household sector:
        Net Saving = Net lending to non-residents less
        Consumption of fixed capital less
        Capital transfers plus
        Gross fixed capital formation plus
        Change in inventories plus
        Acquisitions less disposals of non-produced non-financial assets.
    Diagram: Table 22

    255 Please note, while the principles are the same, the above diagram is according SNA93 standards.

    256 The rest of the world column in Table 22 is an alternative presentation of Australia's quarterly balance of payments statistics, as published in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0). In the financial accounts, these transactions are presented from the point of view of non-residents. The cell at the intersection of line net Lending/net borrowing and the rest of the world column is the balance of payments Current account plus Capital account (with opposite arithmetic sign). The cell below is the balance of payments Net errors and omissions (with opposite sign). The Net change in financial position for the rest of the world is the balance of payments Financial account. It may also be found as Change in net international investment position reflecting transactions.

    257 Information in Table 22 is not fully comparable with information for the general government sector published in Government Financial Estimates, Australia (cat. no. 5501.0.55.001). There are conceptual differences in the treatment of some classes of financial transactions, arising from differences between the International Monetary Fund Manual on Government Finance Statistics with which cat. no. 5501.0 is compatible, and the SNA08, with which this publication is compatible. Conceptual differences aside, there are also known valuation, timing and coverage differences between the sources used to compile cat. no. 5501.0 and the sources used for this publication.

    258 Two statistical discrepancies are shown in the flow of funds matrix. The first of these is the statistical discrepancy carried through from the capital account and represents the statistical discrepancy in the expenditure-based estimates of gross domestic product less the statistical discrepancy in the income-based estimates of gross domestic product (see Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0) for an explanation of these discrepancies). This discrepancy is shown against Net lending/net borrowing in the capital account in Table 22, in the column headed Discrepancy.

    259 The second discrepancy, which is shown against the item labelled Net errors and omissions in Table 22, has been discussed previously in this section. It represents the difference between Net lending/net borrowing (carried through from the capital account in cat. no. 5206.0) and Net change in financial position (derived in the financial transactions account).

    Tables 23-33

    260 These tables present - as far as possible - the whole market for each of the financial instruments, that is, the level of financial assets and liabilities at market prices for each instrument. These tables are less consolidated than Tables 3 - 20. Claims between enterprises within the same company group are eliminated; claims between enterprises which are outside the company group but inside the same subsector are not eliminated. For example, claims between a bank and its banking subsidiaries are eliminated on consolidation but not claims between banking groups.

    261 The top line in each of these tables shows all outstanding liabilities of residents of Australia for that financial instrument. Liabilities, for example, bonds, issued in international markets are included with those issued in the domestic market. This total is then dissected into the several sectors which issued this instrument-the primary classification-and under each of these lines there is an indented block showing the counterparty sectors which hold these instruments as assets. Tables 27 and 28 relating to the One-name paper and Bond markets respectively, also split the total liability between the total issued in Australia and the total issued offshore.


    262 This issue of the Australian Financial Accounts uses data consistent with the latest releases of:
    263 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


    264 Special data reports are available covering :
    • Accounts payable/receivable
    • Financial accounts summary of financial assets and liabilities of private non-financial sector
    • Financial accounts summary of financial assets and liabilities of households and unincorporated enterprises
    • National capital account by sector and subsector
    • Financial accounts summary of consolidated public non-financial corporations, general government and the non-financial public sector
    • Financial accounts summary of bank deposits and lending split by household subsectors
    • Financial accounts summary of loan outstandings to households for housing by type of lending institution
    • Nominal value of short term loans and placements
    • Nominal value of long term loans and placements


    265 Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components in the tables are caused by rounding.