Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of service sector firms that manage money and assets. These include credit unions, banks, credit-card companies, investment firms, insurance companies and consumer-loan providers. They also provide an array of auxiliary services such as data processing, financial advice and brokerage, and underwriting of debt and equity securities.
A robust financial services sector is critical to the overall health of a country’s economy, as it provides individuals and businesses with crucial access to capital through loans, allow them to save for future expenses and investments, safeguard their property through insurance and shield them against liability through risk management. When these sectors and their associated professionals operate at their best, they enable people to purchase everything from homes, cars, college educations and medical care.
In addition to the various responsibilities and duties they perform, the people who work in the financial services industry must be detail-oriented, quick-thinking and team players. In this fast-paced field, employees are often given substantial responsibility right away and are promoted based on merit. In return, they earn competitive salaries, though bonus opportunities aren’t as prevalent as they are in other industries.
Many of the largest financial services companies are payment or credit-card processors. American Express is one of the most prominent examples, offering customers a variety of charge and credit cards paired with rewards programs. Other key providers include mortgage lenders and personal and student loan services. The financial services industry also includes a number of independent investors who supply private equity funds or venture capital to startup companies in exchange for an ownership stake and profit participation.