Finance, Insurance & Investment Mgmt Staffing

Securities, Commodities, & Other Investments

The securities industry is made up of a variety of firms and organizations that bring together buyers and sellers of securities and commodities, manage investments, and offer financial advice. The products provided by the industry are called securities. The most basic types of security are stocks and bonds, which provide capital to finance corporations. Stocks entitle their holders to partial ownership of a company, whereas bonds are a form of debt that a company pays back with interest. Investors purchase stocks and bonds in order to earn money in the form of dividends or interest, or to sell the securities to other investors at a higher price.

Another type of security is called a derivative. There are two basic types of derivatives: options and futures. An investor who holds an option has a contractual right to purchase or sell an asset at a set price on a specified date, but is not required to do so. A futures contract is an agreement to purchase or sell an asset at a set price and date with no option to decline. For example, commodities such as corn, wheat, and pork bellies are often bought and sold in this way and are among the best-known derivatives. Other goods sold on the derivatives market include foreign currencies, precious metals, oil and natural gas, and electricity. Buyers purchase derivatives with the hope that the price of the asset involved will be higher than the agreed price when the contract matures.

Besides selling securities, segments of the securities industry also sell advisory services. Investment banks, for example, help companies to plan stock or bond issues and sell them to investors. Securities and commodities exchanges, on the other hand, provide forums for buyers and sellers to trade securities. Private banks and investment advisories help individual investors to determine how to invest their money.

Banking

There are three basic types of banks: commercial banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions. Although some of the differences between these types of banks have lessened, there are key distinctions. Commercial banks, which dominate this industry, offer a full range of services for individuals, businesses, and governments. Commercial banks come in a wide range of sizes, from large global banks to mid-size regional and small community banks. In addition to typical banking services, global banks lend internationally and trade foreign currencies. Regional banks have numerous branches and automated teller machine (ATM) locations throughout a multi-state area and provide banking services to individuals and local businesses. Community banks are based locally and have fewer branches than regional or global banks. In recent years, online banks—which provide financial services entirely over the Internet—have entered the market, with some success. However, even in Internet banking distinctions have lessened as traditional banks also offer online banking, and some formerly Internet-only banks have opened branches.

Insurance

The insurance industry consists mainly of insurance carriers and insurance agencies and brokerages. In general, insurance carriers are large companies that provide insurance and assume the risks covered by the policy. Insurance agencies and brokerages sell insurance policies for the carriers. While some of agencies and brokerages are directly affiliated with a particular carrier and sell only that carrier's policies, many are independent and are thus free to market the policies of a variety of insurance carriers.

In addition to these two primary components, the insurance industry includes establishments that provide other insurance-related services, such as claims adjustment or third-party administration of insurance and pension funds. These other insurance industry establishments also include a number of independent organizations that provide a wide array of insurance-related services to carriers and their clients. One such service is the processing of claims forms for medical practitioners. Other services include loss prevention and risk management. Also, insurance companies sometimes hire independent claims adjusters to investigate accidents and claims for property damage and to assign a dollar estimate to the claim.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
 

NAICS Code

52 - Finance & Insurance

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