Financial services are economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of service sector firms that provide financial management, like credit unions, banks, credit-card companies, investment funds and insurance providers. The industry is a key driver of global economic growth and is responsible for the safe transfer of capital, risk mitigation and redistribution of wealth around the world.
A healthy financial sector is essential to the success of any economy. It provides millions of people with access to loans for homes, education, vehicles and more, enables businesses to expand and grow, and protects individuals against loss through insurance policies. A strong financial sector also promotes economic growth by providing consumers with more purchasing power.
Careers in financial services offer a great deal of variety and flexibility. While some careers require specific degrees or certifications, others only need an interest in the sector and a good work ethic. Most jobs in this sector are also highly lucrative, offering much more money than those in other industries.
The first and largest sub-sector of the industry is banking. This includes retail and corporate banking. Retail banking is geared toward serving individual consumers, with products like checking and savings accounts, mortgages and loans, and credit cards. Corporate, or business banking, is geared toward serving large corporations. This is typically done through investment accounts and debt and equity financing.
Another important financial services sector is asset management. This is where pensions, insurance assets, hedge funds and mutual funds are handled. This is a growing area of the financial services industry, and many companies are moving to offer more of these services to consumers, as well as integrating some of their existing offerings into broader product lines.
For example, many traditional banks are now offering brokerage and insurance services as a way to increase their revenue. They may also be merging with other financial services companies to become larger conglomerates and offer more of a complete suite of options for consumers.
A good knowledge of math, statistics and accounting is helpful in the field of financial services. These skills are necessary to analyze data and determine the best ways to make investments, as well as to keep track of the various numbers involved in the day-to-day operations of a company or fund. A strong understanding of computer systems and the ability to quickly learn new programs is also a must for a career in the financial services industry. With the rapid advances in technology, these skills will likely be required even more in the future.