Assets overseas include physical assets located overseas and financial claims on non-residents. Respondents to the ABS Survey of Financial Information are requested to report assets at their market value.
Bank certificates of deposit
A certificate of deposit is similar to a promissory note except that the drawer is a bank. Most bank-issued certificates of deposit with an original term to maturity of one year or less are negotiable certificates of deposit (NCD). Transferable certificates of deposit with an original term to maturity greater than one year are included in long term assets.
Bills of exchange
A bill of exchange is an unconditional order drawn (issued) by one party, sent to another party for acceptance and made out to, or to the order of, a third party, or to bearer. It is a negotiable instrument with an original term to maturity of 180 days or less. Although merchant banks were the promoters of the bill market in Australia, today almost all bills are bank accepted. Acceptance of a bill obliges the acceptor to pay the face value of the bill to the holder upon maturity.
Cash and deposits
Cash covers notes and coin on hand. Deposits are credit account balances with deposit-taking institutions as defined by the Reserve Bank. These are banks and cash management trusts and all corporations registered under the Financial Corporations Act 1974 except for intra-group financiers and retailers. Bonds, debentures, notes and transferable certificates of deposit issued by deposit-taking institutions are classified as long term assets and negotiable certificates of deposit issued by banks as bank certificates of deposit.
Cash management trusts
A cash management trust is a unit trust which is governed by a trust deed, is open to the general public and which generally confines its investments (as authorised by the trust deed) to financial securities available through the short term money market. Cash management trusts issue units in the trust that are redeemable by the unit holder on demand.
Common funds are operated by Trustee Companies under relevant State Trustee Companies Acts. They permit trustee companies to combine depositors’ funds and other funds held in trust in an investment pool, and invest the funds in specific types of securities and/or assets. Common funds have the same investment strategy and economic functions as cash management trusts and public unit trusts. However they do not operate in the same manner, in that they do not issue units, nor do they necessarily issue prospectuses.
Equities and units in trusts
This category comprises shares traded on an organised stock exchange, shares in unlisted companies, convertible notes after conversion, preference shares and units issued by both listed and unlisted unit trusts. Trust units are included in this classification because they have important characteristics of equities, such as entitlement to a share of the profits and of (on liquidation) the residual assets of the trust.
Friendly societies are organisations registered as such under the appropriate State legislation.
A considerable proportion of the assets of managed funds institutions in Australia (particularly the funds of life insurance offices and superannuation funds) is invested through investment managers.
Investment managers invest and manage their clients’ assets and often act as administrators for smaller funds, and as agents for other financial entities, on a fee for service basis. Whilst they accept individual portfolios for management they typically manage pooled funds, providing a sophisticated level of service, including matching return and risk, on behalf of their clients. Investment managers are generally life insurance offices, subsidiaries of banks, merchant banks, or organisations related to these types of institutions. They can be either separately constituted legal entities or form a segment of a particular financial institution.
The funds which investment managers invest remain the asset of their clients and are not brought to account on the balance sheet of the investment manager. The ultimate responsibility for the investment remains with the client. For example, if a superannuation fund had all or part of its assets invested through investment managers, the trustees of the superannuation fund remain responsible for the investments, not the investment manager.
Land and buildings
Land and buildings refers to land and buildings held and the value of units in unitised buildings. New acquisitions are reported at acquisition cost and existing assets are reported at the latest available market valuation.
Offices Most of the investment funds of life insurance offices are held in Statutory Funds. Statutory Funds of Life Insurance Offices have been set up under Commonwealth Government legislation and are analogous to trust funds. The legislation requires that the assets of any statutory fund must be kept separate and distinct from the assets of other statutory funds and any other assets of the company. All income received must be paid into and become an asset of the appropriate statutory fund and these assets are only available to meet the liabilities and expenses of that fund.
Loans are intermediated borrowings which are not evidenced by the issue of debt securities. An example of this would be money borrowed from a life insurance office with a mortgage over property as collateral.
Long term securities
A long term security is a document which represents the issuers pledge to pay the holder, on a date which, at the time of issue, is more than one year in the future, the sum of money shown on the face of the document. Until that future date the issuer usually promises to pay coupon interest to the holder quarterly or half-yearly at a rate which is fixed at the time the security is issued. These securities are therefore known as fixed interest securities in the professional market.
Long-term securities in these statistics include the following types of securities.
- Treasury Bonds and Australian Savings Bonds. These are issued to corporations and the general public by the Commonwealth Government.
- Various series of inscribed stock which are issued by state government owned borrowing authorities and enterprises. These are known as semi-government securities by professional traders.
- Debentures, transferable certificates of deposit and unsecured notes, which are collectively called corporate securities or medium term notes by brokers.
- Asset-backed bonds, such as mortgage-backed securities.
The first two of these are published separately in this publication. The last three types are combined together as other long term securities.
The term managed funds is used to describe the investments undertaken by those collective investment institutions and investment managers who engage in financial transactions in the managed funds market.
Managed funds institutions
Managed funds institutions are those financial intermediaries which operate in the managed funds market by acquiring and incurring financial assets and liabilities respectively on their own account. Typically these institutions arrange for the ‘pooling’ of funds from a number of investors for the purpose of investing in a particular type or mix of assets, with a view to receiving an on-going return or capital gain. However, funds of a speculative nature that do not offer redemption facilities (e.g. agriculture and film trusts) and funds not established for investment purposes (e.g. health funds and general insurance funds) are excluded. It includes statutory funds of life offices, superannuation funds, public unit trusts, friendly societies, common funds and cash management trusts.
Non-financial assets comprise all those assets which are not financial in nature: i.e. physical assets. For the purposes of these statistics they are broken down into only two categories-land and buildings, and other types of non-financial asset.
Other financial assets
This covers any other financial claims on residents that do not fit into the foregoing categories, such as trade credit, interest accruals and other derivative (but not synthetic) financial products. Synthetic financial products combine a primary financial instrument with a derivative financial instrument and are classified to the category appropriate to the primary instrument used.
Other non-financial assets
Other non-financial assets refers to all assets not classified elsewhere except for assets overseas.
Placements are account balances with entities not regarded as deposit-taking institutions (see cash and deposits). Examples of these are account balances of funds with State governments central borrowing authorities.
A promissory note-also called commercial paper or one-name paper in the professional market - is a written promise to pay a specified sum of money to the bearer at an agreed date. It is usually issued for terms ranging from 30 to 180 days and is sold to an investor at a simple discount to the face value. A promissory note is different from a bill of exchange in that it is not ‘accepted’ by a bank and is not endorsed by the parties which sell it in the market place.
Public unit trusts
A public unit trust is defined as an arrangement, governed by a trust deed between a management company and a trustee, which is open to the public for the purchase of units in the trust. Unit trusts invest the pooled funds of unit holders to yield returns in the form of income and/or capital gain. Unit holders can dispose of their units within a relatively short period of time.
Short term securities
Debt securities are divided into short term and long term using original term to maturity as the classificatory criterion. Short term securities are those with an original term to maturity of one year or less. Issuers of promissory notes and bills of exchange do negotiate roll-over facilities which allow them to use these instruments as sources of floating-rate long term funds. However, in these statistics the existence of roll-over facilities does not convert what are legally short term instruments into long term ones.
- Convertible notes, prior to conversion.
There are four types of short term securities shown in this publication: bills of exchange, promissory notes, Treasury notes and bank certificates of deposit. All of these are issued at a discount to face value and are traded on well-established secondary markets with bills of exchange and certificates of deposit being the most actively traded. Professional traders call these short term instruments money market securities. Treasury notes are inscribed stock in that ownership is recorded in a register maintained by the issuer and a non-transferable certificate of ownership is issued, but the owner does not physically hold the documents. The other short term securities are bearer securities, that is the owner is not registered with the issuer but physically holds the documents. Bearer securities are payable to the holder on maturity and transferable by delivery.
Superannuation funds are indefinitely continuing funds maintained for the provision of benefits for either members of the fund, or the dependants of members in the event of retirement or death of the member. The statistics include both public and private sector superannuation funds that either directly invest on their own behalf, or use fund managers on a fee for service basis, and approved deposit funds.
Treasury notes are inscribed instruments issued by the Commonwealth Government with original maturity terms of five, thirteen or twenty-six weeks. Treasury notes are included in these statistics as other short term assets.