Bankers Trust has confirmed its reputation as the most successful foreign bank operating in Australia.

Bankers Trust Australia Ltd. reported a 22 percent rise in operating profit to almost $30 million for the 12 months ended last November, the second full year of operation for the bank. This represents an after-tax return of 33 percent on shareholders' funds.Before it was granted a full banking license in 1985, Bankers Trust had operated in Australia as a merchant bank since 1969.

Although it has a reputation as a tough, aggressive operator, BTA maintains a very low public profile and is largely unknown outside the

financial community.

BTA's corporate finance department handled 22 mergers and acquisitions in the year through last November, with a total transaction value of $4.26 billion.

Robert Ferguson, BTA managing director, said he was more cautious about the bank's performance during 1988. He said he expects a less spectacular performance from the bank.

As we face 1988 and beyond, he said, the events of recent months clearly show that the growth in financial services, worldwide, has peaked.

The industry is now in a cyclical decline with inevitable attendant shakeouts and, as a result, the indifferent or mediocre will simply disappear, while the strong performers will emerge even stronger, he said.

During the past year, BTA's funds under management rose by 30 percent to $3.0 billion. Retail services funds soared 84 percent to $823 million.

BTA is strong in all financial markets with the exception of retail banking. It embraces corporate mergers, investment management, cash management trusts, foreign exchange, futures, securities and stock trading.

BTA was one of 16 banks to receive a full banking license early in 1985.

The move was part of the Australian government's finance sector deregulation program. It also reflected what was considered a need to inject more competition and greater depth into the local banking scene.

Five U.S. banks received licenses. The others were BankAmerica, Chase Manhattan, Morgan Guaranty and Citibank.

It is now likely BTA will remain fully owned by the U.S. parent indefinitely.

When the New York-based bank made its formal application for a license, it indicated willingness to float 25 percent of local operations to Australian investors. This was in response to the implied preference of the Australian government for local equity investment in ventures to be set up by foreign banks.

But several banks received licenses without local equity, and the government has made it known that Australian participation is not necessarily a preferred option.