What Are Financial Services?

Financial services are the activities that businesses, governments, and individuals engage in to further their economic objectives. They involve the inflow and outflow of money, and include everything from buying and selling products to borrowing and lending. They also include the critical financial utilities that support these activities, such as stock exchanges, credit and investment companies, insurance providers, debt resolution firms, and payment systems.

The core of the financial services sector is intermediation, the process by which savers channel cash to borrowers. This can take the form of deposit and savings accounts (with checking and savings options), as well as lending and credit offerings like mortgages, student loans, car loans, and business loans. Financial services can also add value by aggregating and monitoring investments, pooling risk for a wide group of savers (e.g., by providing life insurance and other forms of security), and enabling a high level of availability and reliability.

As a result of technological advances, financial services are increasingly available to a larger number of consumers around the world. However, it is important to consider all the available options and choose a service that aligns with your financial goals, tolerance for risk, and specific needs. In addition, it is advisable to regularly reassess your financial plan and be open to exploring new alternatives. Financial services can be extremely complex and are heavily regulated to protect consumers. As a consequence, people who work in the industry are often stressed and may find it challenging to maintain a work-life balance.