A healthy financial services sector is vital to the health of the world economy. It helps individuals and businesses get the loans they need for mortgages, investments and other purposes. It protects people’s property and lives through insurance policies. It provides millions with well-paying jobs. And it supports local economies through the money that it pumps into business and consumer spending.

When you think of financial services, you probably picture investment bankers and hedge fund managers. But the industry is much broader than that. Financial services encompasses all of the organizations that offer banking, money transfers, credit and financing options. It also includes all the companies that provide critical financial utilities like credit card networks and ATMs, global payment providers (Visa and Mastercard) and debt resolution services.

Financial services is a hugely important industry to understand because it touches everyone in one way or another. Whether you’re saving for a big purchase or getting a loan to pay for it, you’re likely making use of the financial services that are available to you.

The sector is incredibly broad, which means that there are many different career paths for professionals in it. It’s also a dynamic sector, with new tools and technologies appearing on the horizon all the time. This makes it a great choice for people who want to constantly learn and grow their skillsets.

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry into the industry, but a graduate degree isn’t always necessary. Entry-level positions are typically quite competitive, so you’ll need to be able to prove yourself in your first few years on the job.

As you progress, you’ll find that many companies invest heavily in their employees. Many offer on-the-job training, in addition to a formal education program. This is because the field of finance is constantly evolving, and it’s important that the company you work for keeps up with it.

Companies are also merging and buying up other financial services firms to expand their offerings. For example, a large bank may buy an insurance or brokerage firm, then add those products to its existing lineup. The lines between sectors are becoming more blurry, which is great for consumers, because it’s often easier to have all your products under the same roof.

If you’re interested in a career in financial services, it’s worth talking to your network and seeing what opportunities are available to you. Then you can start to build a portfolio of professional experience that will help you secure an entry-level role and move up the ladder quickly. As you advance, the pay in this industry is quite good and can increase into the high five figures. However, it’s important to remember that your responsibilities and duties will be fairly complex and demanding, so you must be prepared for them. To succeed, you’ll need to be smart, quick-thinking, and a team player.