As of 2004, the financial services industry represented 20% of the market capitalization of the S&P 500 in the United States. The U.S. finance industry comprised only 10% of total non-farm business profits in 1947, but it grew to 50% by 2010. Over the same period, finance industry income as a proportion of GDP rose from 2.5% to 7.5%, and the finance industry's proportion of all corporate income rose from 10% to 20%.
The term "financial services" became more prevalent in the United States partly as a result of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of the late 1990s, which enabled different types of companies operating in the U.S. financial services industry at that time to merge.
Companies usually have two distinct approaches to this new type of business. One approach would be a bank which simply buys an insurance company or an investment bank, keeps the original brands of the acquired firm, and adds the acquisition to its holding company simply to diversify its earnings. Outside the U.S. (e.g., in Japan), non-financial services companies are permitted within the holding company. In this scenario, each company still looks independent, and has its own customers, etc. In the other style, a bank would simply create its own brokerage division or insurance division and attempt to sell those products to its own existing customers, with incentives for combining all things with one company.
A "commercial bank" is what is commonly referred to as simply a "bank". The term "commercial" is used to distinguish it from an "investment bank," a type of financial services entity which, instead of lending money directly to a business, helps businesses raise money from other firms in the form of bonds (debt) or stock (equity).
The primary operations of banks include:
Keeping money safe while also allowing withdrawals when needed
Issuance of chequebooks so that bills can be paid and other kinds of payments can be delivered by post
Private banking - Private banks provide banking services exclusively to high-net-worth individuals. Many financial services firms require a person or family to have a certain minimum net worth to qualify for private banking services. Private banks often provide more personal services, such as wealth management and tax planning, than normal retail banks.
Insurance brokerage - Insurance brokers shop for insurance (generally corporate property and casualty insurance) on behalf of customers. Recently a number of websites have been created to give consumers basic price comparisons for services such as insurance, causing controversy within the industry.
Credit card machine services and networks - Companies which provide credit card machine and payment networks call themselves "merchant card providers".
Intermediation or advisory services - These services involve stock brokers (private client services) and discount brokers. Stock brokers assist investors in buying or selling shares. Primarily internet-based companies are often referred to as discount brokerages, although many now have branch offices to assist clients. These brokerages primarily target individual investors. Full service and private client firms primarily assist and execute trades for clients with large amounts of capital to invest, such as large companies, wealthy individuals, and investment management funds.
Private equity - Private equity funds are typically closed-end funds, which usually take controlling equity stakes in businesses that are either private, or taken private once acquired. Private equity funds often use leveraged buyouts (LBOs) to acquire the firms in which they invest. The most successful private equity funds can generate returns significantly higher than provided by the equity markets
Venture capital is a type of private equity capital typically provided by professional, outside investors to new, high-potential-growth companies in the interest of taking the company to an IPO or trade sale of the business.
Angel investment - An angel investor or angel (known as a business angel or informal investor in Europe), is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital.
Conglomerates - A financial services company such as a universal bank that is active in more than one sector of the financial services market e.g. life insurance, general insurance, health insurance, asset management, retail banking, wholesale banking, investment banking, etc. A key rationale for the existence of such businesses is the existence of diversification benefits that are present when different types of businesses are aggregated i.e. bad things don't always happen at the same time. As a consequence, economic capital for a conglomerate is usually substantially less than economic capital is for the sum of its parts.
Debt resolution is a consumer service that assists individuals that have too much debt to pay off as requested, but do not want to file bankruptcy and wish to pay off their debts owed. This debt can be accrued in various ways including but not limited to personal loans, credit cards or in some cases merchant accounts.
Fraud within the financial industry costs the UK (regulated by the FSA) an estimated £14bn a year and it is believed a further £25bn is laundered by British institutions.
The U.S. finance industry comprised only 10% of total non-farm business profits in 1947, but it grew to 50% by 2010. Over the same period, finance industry income as a proportion of GDP rose from 2.5% to 7.5%, and the finance industry's proportion of all corporate income rose from 10% to 20%. The mean earnings per employee hour in finance relative to all other sectors has closely mirrored the share of total U.S. income earned by the top 1% income earners since 1930. The mean salary in New York City's finance industry rose from $80,000 in 1981 to $360,000 in 2011, while average New York City salaries rose from $40,000 to $70,000. In 1988, there were about 12,500 U.S. banks with less than $300 million in deposits, and about 900 with more deposits, but by 2012, there were only 4,200 banks with less than $300 million in deposits in the U.S., and over 1,800 with more.
The financial services industry constitutes the largest group of companies in the world in terms of earnings and equity market capitalization. However it is not the largest category in terms of revenue or number of employees. It is also a slow growing and extremely fragmented industry, with the largest company (Citigroup), only having a 3% US market share. In contrast, the largest home improvement store in the US, Home Depot, has a 30% market share, and the largest coffee house Starbucks has a market share of 32% .