Financial services are economic services that enable individuals to save and manage their money, invest in various assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate and hedge against risks. Financial institutions also provide insurance products such as life, health and property coverage to protect against unforeseen events. Financial services also include payment-processing services such as facilitating electronic fund transfers, issuing credit and debit cards and managing payment systems.
Financial service firms serve a broad range of clients, from small business owners to high net worth individuals and families. Some common financial services firms include banks, investment banks, brokerage firms, private bankers and credit unions. They may also offer more specialized services such as securities research, prime brokerage and institutional asset management.
A healthy economy requires a good financial services sector to support it. The presence of financial services firms ensures that there is a steady flow of capital to companies so they can expand their operations and ultimately reap greater profits. Financial services are also a barometer of how well a country’s economy is doing; if there is hectic activity in the stock market, it is a sign that the economy is doing well.
A career in finance is a lucrative option for intelligent, quick-thinking people who enjoy a fast-paced and competitive work environment. While a bachelor’s degree is usually required to begin in any of the many roles available, further education is not always necessary; experience, hard work and interpersonal skills can often make up for lack of formal qualifications.