The Financial Services Industry
The financial services industry is massive, encompassing all roles that deal with managing and exchanging money. It’s also a hot space for disruption as startups and legacy institutions alike strive to build new digital tools and streamline old ones.
A key aspect of this sector is that it deals with a different kind of good than most other industries. A financial good is something that lasts, whether a mortgage loan, an insurance policy or a stock investment. But a financial service is the process that goes into acquiring those goods, like a mortgage loan application or an insurance quote.
Financial services are important to an economy because they help channel cash from savers to borrowers and redistribute risk. Banks, for example, take deposits and lend out funds with the aim of making a profit on the difference between what they pay to depositors and what they get from borrowers. They do this by taking on risk that borrowers won’t repay, and spreading it among many borrowers so they aren’t crippled by the loss of any one of them.
Other providers of financial services include brokerages, asset managers and investment banks. They offer advice on investing and saving for the long term, and they manage assets that customers own, including stocks, bonds, real estate and other kinds of investments. Some companies specialize in a particular area, such as lending to small businesses or providing mortgages. Others, like family offices, handle a wealthy client’s assets and make investments on their behalf.
Besides the big players, there are also plenty of independent financial service providers. The number of independent finance and wealth management firms continues to grow, as people seek out a variety of ways to manage their money. These can include digital services, such as money-management apps, which allow individuals to monitor and track their finances from a mobile phone or computer.
There are also services that provide access to credit cards, and there are those that facilitate online trading in the share market. Financial services providers are also involved in a wide range of other activities, such as issuing securities and administering payment systems. They are often heavily regulated by government authorities, which means that there is significant competition and the ability for consumers to switch providers easily.
The diverse set of jobs available in this sector makes it a compelling career choice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. Duitch points out that although the industry plays a critical role in society, it is not immune to economic cycles and other factors that impact performance. That’s why it’s important for those who are considering a job in the sector to carefully weigh the pros and cons. He adds that a degree is not always necessary, and that success in the sector depends more on interpersonal skills than on education. The financial services industry is a highly specialized field, but there are many opportunities for those with the right mix of hard and soft skills.