What Is Financial Services?

Financial services is a broad industry, encompassing everything from insurance to money management to credit cards and payments systems. The sector also includes many nonprofit ventures that provide counseling or education around personal finance. There are many different ways to break into the field. Some people find jobs through connections in the industry; others enter via internships and work their way up, learning new skills along the way. It’s not uncommon for people in financial services to work 16 to 20 hours a day, which can cause burnout if not carefully managed.

It wasn’t always like this, however. In the past, each sector of the industry stuck to its own specialty. Banks offered checking and savings accounts, while loan associations focused on mortgages and personal loans. But starting in the 1970s, consumer demands and market conditions started to change. Many consumers wanted banks to offer more than just checking and savings accounts, so companies began to merge and expand their product offerings.

For example, a brokerage firm would bring in customers to buy or sell shares in mutual funds, stocks and bonds. The broker would then collect a commission on each transaction. Companies also started to offer a variety of other products, such as investment funds and retirement plans.

Today, it’s difficult to distinguish between one type of financial service and the next. Often, a company will acquire an existing company that offers another type of financial service and then combine both under the same brand name. This is known as a “reverse takeover” and is allowed under certain circumstances in some countries.