Provider Information - Survey of Financial Information (SFI)

If you have recently received the SFI form from the ABS, this page is designed to help you understand why the collection of these data are so important .

Listed below are:


1. What is the purpose of the SFI?
The survey was established primarily to provide data for the Australian Financial Accounts which are not otherwise available. The Australian Financial Accounts (cat. no. 5232.0), which is part of the National Accounting framework, contains financial profiles of each sub sector of the economy and the market for each conventional financial instrument (eg. equity, bonds etc). There are also tables showing inter–sectoral financial transactions and measures of sectoral financial surpluses and deficits. In theory the scope of the Survey of Financial Information (SFI) is those institutional units transacting in financial assets or liabilities with other institutional units. In practice, the coverage is a small subset of the scope. ABS cover only those units about which suitable data from some other source (eg administrative data from APRA) cannot be obtained. In addition, SFI data is used to provide information about certain segments of the financial markets, namely the managed funds and securitisation markets.

The data from the Survey of Financial Information (SFI) feeds into the following publications:
2. Why is the SFI sent out quarterly?
The SFI is a major contributor to the Financial Accounts of the Australian National Accounts which are published on a quarterly basis as economic indicators in their own right. The reason for the quarterly timetable is to give government, private sector analysts, commentators and other users of the data a regular snapshot of how the Australian economy, and the financial markets in particular, is progressing.

3. Do I have to complete the form?
The ABS relies on the cooperation of organisations in Australia such as yours to provide accurate information as requested. However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to provide the completed return.

4. Is confidentiality of my data guaranteed?
The ABS has a responsibility to ensure that it provides a quality statistical service whilst also protecting the privacy rights of those individuals or businesses who provide information. Your completed form remains confidential to the ABS and statistics will only be published in the form of aggregated data. The Australian Statistician and staff are bound by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to observe the strictest confidence in regard to the information supplied by providers. The Act provides for penalties of up to $5,000 or two years in gaol, or both, against officers who breach this rule.

5. What happens if some of the data requested on the forms is not available?
The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The more accurate the figures you supply the more accurate the total estimate will be. However, if for some items exact data are not readily available, careful estimates will be accepted.

6. Are there any other aides available for completing the forms?
Yes there is the definitions booklet which describes the sectors and financial instruments requested on the form; and there is a concordance available showing the relationship between the sector counterparties required by ABS and the Global Industry Classification (GICS) used by the ASX. Please click to access the ABS–GICS concordance.

7. Can I get an extension of time to complete the survey?
If you wish to apply for an extension of time to complete this quarters survey please call 1800 651 552. Under certain circumstance a small amount of extra time to complete the survey may be granted.


The definitions booklet attached here describes the sectors and financial instruments requested on the form.

SFI Booklet 2012v2.pdf


For those companies that use the Global Industry Classification (GICS) to classify their ASX listed entities, the ABS has devised a concordance between the ABS counterparty classifications and the GICS. It is attached here.

GICS ABS concordance.xls


*NOTE: Please do not alter the excel form sent to you in any way (apart from entering data), as doing so will make your survey return invalid*.

1. Generally, how will the electronic form work?
At the end of each reference quarter (March, June, September, December) you will be emailed an electronic form (which is based on Microsoft Excel Software) with the relevant reference quarter on the front. This form has embedded data to identify each statistical unit, so it is unique for your organisation and the quarter it is received. It is important that you return the specific form that you are sent each quarter. You will also be emailed an explanatory notes booklet describing the sectors and financial instruments requested on the form. Please complete the form by the due date and lodge it on the ABS Secure Deposit Box. Upon receipt of your data, you will receive an email receipt for your lodgement which you can keep for your records. When the correct, completed form is received by the ABS, software loads its contents directly into ABS systems.

2. How do I save the excel form?
When you receive the emailed form, simply open in excel and 'save as' to your computer's C drive. You may need to change your security settings to enable macros. Go to the 'Tools' menu and select security, then select the appropriate security setting. This is important so you can save the completed form.

3. If I make a mistake can I resubmit the form in the same quarter?
Yes you can. If you submit revisions to the data that has already been reported, then you should submit the whole completed form again. Could you please let us know that you are submitting revisions by making a note in the 'textual data' box when you lodge the form through the Secure Deposit Box.

4. Can I submit different parts of the form at different times?
Yes you can. If you wish to submit parts (or individual worksheets) of the form at different times then you should still submit the whole form, leaving the other (already submitted) parts blank. However please remember all parts should still be completed by the due date.

5. Can I use the form sent in the current quarter for future quarters to lodge my data?
No you cannot. You must use the form emailed to you each quarter. If this is something you would like to set up in the future, please call the ABS on 1800 651 552 so we can gauge the interest in having this as an option.

6. Can I set up my systems to fill in the form automatically from my organisation's accounting software/systems?
Yes you can. There are a few options – you can insert vlookup into the form based on the data item code situated to the right of the data field; or you can create a visual basic macro that fills in the form based on the unique cell references that have been specified to each data field on the form. This data is shown to the right of the formula bar a the top left of the Excel window. However you must ensure you complete Part 1 General Information tab to indicate the reference quarter.

7. How do I lodge the form to the ABS?
The ABS Secure Deposit Box is a mechanism which allows you to securely lodge this form with the ABS through the ABS website. You will require a user name and password to deposit the information. If you have not received these please telephone the ABS on 1800 651 552. For further information please click on How to submit the completed return.

  • Have you indicated the period covered by this form in Question 1 in Part 1 – General Information tab?
  • Have you used the form sent to you in the current quarter, not last quarter's form?
  • Are you lodging the whole form, even if parts are blank? It is important to submit the whole form not separate worksheets by themselves.
  • Is the form complete? ie have you completed all required parts?
  • Have you checked the data boxes to ensure the results of any formulas have returned valid values?
  • Have you checked the data boxes to ensure only numbers are entered where numeric values are expected? For example, please do not write 'nil' or 'null' in data boxes which have zero.
  • If you receive more than one electronic form for different entities, please ensure you are using the correct E–form for each entity, as the form(s) that are sent to you are hard coded for a particular entity.
  • Have you saved a copy of this quarter's form for your own records and as a reference for next quarter?
  • Do you have a current user name and password for data lodgement to the ABS Secure Deposit Box? Please note that lodging your form through the Secure Deposit Box provides security for your data. Please do not reply to the original email address the form was sent from as it is unattended and therefore not secure.
  • If you are submitting revisions, have you let the ABS know through the 'textual data' box (where you can write comments) when you are lodging the form through the secure deposit box?


Instructions for electronic lodgement of information via the ABS Secure Deposit Box
The ABS Secure Deposit Box is a mechanism for you to lodge statistical files or text to the appropriate ABS collection area via a secure link. Each file that you lodge is encrypted during transmission to the Secure Deposit Box and is immediately moved into a secure location where its content is automatically scanned for viruses. The following instructions will step you through how to lodge data to the ABS Secure Deposit Box. If you experience any difficulties when lodging your data please contact the ABS on 1800 651 552. Thank you for using the ABS Secure Deposit Box facility.

Please find attached the Secure Deposit Box Website ( instructions and tips for solving common problems:

Important Reminder: please ensure you wait at least 1/2 an hour before accessing the Secure Deposit Box.


If you need help completing this form, submitting the form to the Secure Deposit Box, or want to know more about this survey, please call 1800 651 552 (free call excluding mobile phones). We can often advise on ways of making this task easier for you.