Financial services are the businesses and institutions that deal with making, investing, and managing money for both individuals and organisations. They include everything from banks and building societies to credit card companies and credit rating agencies. But there are also a lot of other players within the sector including insurance, private equity funds and investment managers. There are some who argue that digital financial services – including online banking and payment systems – are now an integral part of the sector too.
Banks are the main focus of this industry but they don’t just keep money in their vaults, they lend it out to people and businesses. They’re also known for offering products like money market accounts, mutual funds and mortgages to help people save and then borrow. Other companies that offer financial services include stockbrokers – who buy and sell shares in public companies – as well as commodity traders, who use their own money to trade commodities like coffee or oil, instead of taking deposits from customers.
Increasingly, the lines between the different sectors are blurring as companies merge and expand their range of offerings. This is often due to advances in technology too. For example, some lenders now offer personal loans through digital platforms and private banks have a growing presence on smartphones and tablets. Other services include debt resolution – which helps people who are in too much debt get back on their feet – and payment recovery – helping business recover money they’ve paid to vendors.