Financial services are activities related to managing money and include banking, investing, borrowing and saving. These activities support individuals, businesses and governments. Some of the major players in this sector are credit unions, banks and investment firms. The industry also includes insurance companies, credit-card and payment services providers and debt resolution firms. The sector is extremely diverse and offers a wealth of opportunities to anyone with an interest in finance.
The financial services industry has many different sub-sectors, each of which plays an important role in supporting the overall economic health of a country. Some of the most prominent sub-sectors include:
Banks – These companies act as intermediaries between savers and borrowers. They accept deposits of funds from individuals and businesses, and then lend them to those who need capital for various purposes such as starting a business or buying a home. Financial institutions also provide depository services such as checking and savings accounts, and offer financial products like money market mutual funds and mortgages.
Investment firms – These entities invest in companies and other organizations in exchange for equity stakes or profit participation. They may also provide advisory services on company strategy and growth. Private equity funds and venture capital providers are important members of this sector, as are angel investors and hedge fund managers.
Credit card companies and other payment service providers – These firms provide cards, networks and processing services for electronic transactions. They also facilitate international currency exchange and wire transfer services. Financial services companies that provide debt resolution and other consumer services are also part of this sector, as are global payment systems and exchanges that facilitate stock, derivative and commodity trades.
Insurance services – These companies provide protection against the unforeseen, such as death or disability (life, disability income and auto insurance). They also offer coverage for property loss and damage (homeowners and car insurance), as well as liability coverage to protect against lawsuits.
Financial services companies are heavily invested in their employees. Many provide extensive on-the-job training and are known for promoting based on aptitude rather than tenure. This makes the industry attractive to young people who want to grow quickly within a firm.
Despite the many positives of working in the industry, it is not without its challenges. One of the biggest is that technological change is happening much faster than government regulations can keep up. As a result, new entrants are entering the marketplace with innovative products and solutions that challenge established firms to adapt.
Other issues facing the industry include the lack of basic knowledge about finances, debt and money management among consumers. Educating the public on these topics could help increase customer retention and ultimately boost sales. It is also critical to reduce the number of fraudulent activities and cyberattacks that have been a significant driver of recent losses for some financial services firms. To minimize these risks, firms should implement stringent cybersecurity measures and use data analytics to identify suspicious activity.