Financial services are economic services that comprise a broad range of business sector companies dealing with money management, such as banks, investment agencies, credit card firms and stock brokerages. This sector helps individuals manage their investments and savings, as well as providing protection from financial risks, such as loss of property or health. Financial services are crucial to the overall functioning of a healthy economy.
A healthy financial services industry allows people to secure loans to finance purchases like cars or homes, save for retirement and other future goals, and safeguard their assets with insurance products. It also provides millions of jobs and allows people to live a decent life through steady wages and the ability to pay for basic needs with cash.
What are the types of financial services?
There are four primary categories of financial services: investment, insurance, payment and settlement, and wealth management. Banks and other financial institutions are the largest providers of all financial services. However, non-banking financial services firms also offer a wide range of products and services. Some of the most notable include securities research, broker services, prime brokerage, and structured finance.
Securities research firms conduct research and analysis on stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities to help investors make informed investment decisions. These firms often have their own brokerage departments that purchase and sell securities on behalf of clients. They may also provide consulting and advisory services to private clients and hedge funds.
Banking services are the foundation of the financial services industry, and include everything from storing your money in an FDIC-insured account to paying others for goods and services with a debit or credit card. Some banks even offer insurance products like life, auto and home insurance. Credit cards are a popular way to make payments, and many come with rewards programs that can add up to free merchandise or travel. Some banks also operate global payment systems, and maintain currency exchange services and wire transfer networks.
Insurance services provide peace of mind by covering losses and reducing risk for individuals and businesses. Companies in this category also offer investment advisory services to help customers plan and execute their investing strategy. They also manage the underwriting process for companies seeking to raise capital, and advise investment bankers on loan risk.
A healthy financial services industry includes independent regulatory bodies that oversee different sectors of the market, uphold transparency and ensure that their customers are treated fairly. This ensures that the industry remains stable and competitive, while still giving consumers access to the products and services they need to succeed. Regulatory bodies may work with other independent organizations to share information and best practices. This collaboration is crucial to the success of the financial services industry as a whole. It also helps create a level playing field where all players are able to compete equally with each other in the global marketplace. In this way, consumers are able to receive the best and most up-to-date products and services.