The Australian Securities and Investments Commission lists 20,000 individuals on its public register of financial advisers – revealing the total size of the retail financial planning market in Australia.

These professionals provide personal advice to consumers on issues relating to retirement planning, superannuation and investment, including financial product recommendation.

The vast majority of these individuals work for privately-owned small to medium enterprises with a range of staff including client-facing, registered advisers, compliance, marketing and other support staff. However, while most are small to medium business owners or employees, the majority (reports suggest as much as 80 per cent) are linked to the major financial product manufacturers (banks, insurers and others) through licensing arrangements.

In order to provide personal financial product advice in Australia, one must be licensed in line with the specifications of the Corporations Act. Advisers can either self-license or be licensed through a third-party, often owned by a financial institution.

The financial planning industry is represented by a range of industry associations and lobby groups. While the industry is relatively small in size (comparative to equivalent financial services sectors such as accounting), there is a wide array of different professionals within the 20,000, with various levels of education and specialisation.

Men are said to make up as much as 75 per cent of the industry, and Sydney and Melbourne contain the highest populations of financial advisers, though there are also strong contingents in the regions.

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