Financial services are a vital part of every economy, providing individuals and businesses with the tools they need to succeed. A healthy financial sector allows people to borrow money for mortgages, car loans, education, or any number of other needs. It also safeguards property and health through insurance. It provides millions of well-paying jobs, and it helps families and businesses grow.
Financial services companies include investment banking firms, brokerages, credit card companies, banks, lenders, insurance companies, and more. Many of these companies specialize in specific areas, such as offering business loans, personal lines of insurance, or payment processing. Others provide general financial services, such as investment advisory, tax preparation, and accounting.
Some financial services are offered by large multinational corporations that operate across multiple countries. This type of company is referred to as a financial conglomerate. Other financial services are provided by independent companies that offer one or more specific financial products. For example, an independent financial advisor might offer advice on retirement planning, investment strategies, or estate planning.
A growing industry, financial services are often a source of employment in the US and around the world. Regulatory bodies exist to monitor the activities of financial institutions and ensure that they treat their customers fairly. Independent agencies, such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency oversee the operations of banks and other financial institutions. Other regulators include a variety of state-level agencies and international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund.