Financial services are the professional firms and people that give advice on how to best manage money, whether it’s saving for retirement, investing or just figuring out how to pay the bills. These include banks, credit unions, investment firms, mortgage brokers, credit-card companies and insurance agencies. They provide services such as deposit-taking; lending of all types, including financial leasing; payment and money transmission services; securities trading and brokerage services; asset management, including pension fund management; credit reference and intermediation; and other auxiliary financial services.
A healthy financial services sector helps individuals and businesses get the money they need to fulfill their goals. This includes banks, which offer checking and savings accounts, and loans to those in need of capital, such as mortgages or car loans. It also includes credit-card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, which provide card networks and payment processing services.
Another important service provided by financial services is risk assessment. It involves evaluating the creditworthiness of potential borrowers and offering advice to investment bankers on loan risk. This industry also includes reinsurers, which sell insurance to the original insurers to help them cover catastrophic losses.
One challenge facing the financial services industry is cyber security. As attackers become more sophisticated, these professionals must keep up by constantly monitoring their networks and developing leading edge business continuity solutions to thwart attacks. This is a constant and ever-evolving battle, but one that is essential to the health of this vital industry.