Financial services is the industry that deals with the making, investing and exchanging of money for both businesses and individuals. This includes banking, credit unions and credit-card companies, investment firms, insurance companies, credit-rating agencies and providers of critical financial market utilities.
The strength of the financial sector is a key factor in a nation’s economic growth, as well as its citizens’ standard of living. A strong financial system boosts consumer confidence and spending power, while a failure can pull down an entire economy.
To make a profit, a financial services firm earns the difference between what it pays out on loans and deposits, or through fees and commissions such as the spread on interest rates between loans and savings accounts. These companies also offer other products to consumers and businesses, including debt resolution, mortgages and other lending services, credit-cards and a range of payment systems.
Some companies, called conglomerates, operate in multiple sectors of the financial services industry, such as life insurance, general insurance, property and casualty insurance, asset management and financial consulting. They may also act as market makers for trading exchanges and provide brokerage services.
Breaking into a career in financial services can be difficult, but there are a few ways to increase your chances of landing a role. It’s important to build your network and have connections in the industry who can vouch for you, but also to apply for entry-level roles that allow you to learn on the job. These roles will enable you to develop a broad range of skills that you can use when applying for more senior positions. The industry is also known for promoting from within on the basis of merit, so if you’re talented and have an aptitude for finance you can rapidly move up the ranks.