Financial services are the institutions and companies that offer investment, savings, credit and depository services. They also include a number of other business activities, such as financial market utilities (stock exchanges, clearing houses, derivative and commodity exchanges and payment systems), debt management services (debt resolution and collection services), asset management firms and insurance services.
In today’s world of interconnected financial markets, it might seem like the banking industry has become all-encompassing, but it wasn’t always this way. Historically, each sector specialized in their respective fields. Banks offered checking and savings accounts, loan associations provided mortgages, and brokerage companies provided investments in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
While many companies in the field are for-profit ventures, there are some nonprofit organizations that provide counseling services to struggling individuals and families. In addition, a few government-sponsored entities may provide debt consolidation or bankruptcy assistance.
Working in the financial services industry can be an exciting career path. However, it isn’t for the faint of heart as it requires burning the midnight oil in order to climb the ladder. It also requires the right personality as it is a largely network-based profession, and a strong understanding of financial markets and industry jargon is essential. That said, the work is often rewarding, especially as many businesses promote from within and favor aptitude over tenure. And, with new tools being introduced to the financial services industry on a daily basis, it is important for employees to continually expand their skill sets.