Financial services are the companies and professionals who provide a wide range of products that help people save, invest, borrow and manage their money. They also include the various insurance systems we pay into to protect against life’s unexpected calamities. Financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, offer depository services by accepting deposits from individuals and businesses in checking and savings accounts that earn interest. They also extend credit to individuals and businesses through loans, mortgages and lines of credit.
The industry includes everything from hedge funds to small community banks, and even nonprofits. “Financial services encompasses everything that touches money,” Duitch says. “It’s more than investment banking or lending; it includes personal finance, like getting a home loan, paying for college education with student loans, and buying a car.”
Companies that offer insurance like health, auto, homeowners and life are considered part of this industry, as are debt-resolution companies that negotiate with creditors on behalf of consumers or assist with bankruptcy filings. Additionally, companies that offer credit-card processing and merchant services are a part of the financial services industry. So are companies that provide financial market utilities such as clearing houses, securities exchanges, derivative and commodity exchanges and payment systems. Finally, there are financial services conglomerates, which hold a presence in multiple sectors of the industry.
Professionals in this sector report high job satisfaction, and they often gain a broad set of skills that can be applied anywhere else in the field. However, the stress level in this sector is high and burnout is common. This is why many firms promote on-the-job training and encourage their employees to further their education.