Financial services are the companies that allow people to put their money to productive use. This includes banks, insurance firms, and investment firms. Financial services are essential for the economy because they allow businesses and individuals to borrow money to invest in things like new technologies, or to purchase homes and cars. They also provide insurance against unexpected losses. There are many different jobs within the financial services industry. For example, an investment banker might work to raise capital for a business, while an insurance agent might help individuals shop for insurance policies.
There are also regulatory agencies that oversee the activities of financial services companies to ensure that they operate fairly and are held accountable for their actions. These include the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The lines that separate different sectors of the financial services industry are blurring. For instance, many banks now offer investment products such as mutual funds and insurance. Similarly, private wealth management firms are beginning to compete with traditional investment banks, offering investors specialized advice and customized portfolios. There are even financial services companies that specialize in structured finance, which involves developing intricate (typically derivative) products for high-net worth clients and advising them on mergers and acquisitions.