Financial stock

Quick definition

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Updated: Jan 9, 2024

Financial stocks are companies that operate in the financial sector such as banks, mortgage companies, stock market exchange operators, lenders, credit card companies, and financial technology (fintech) organisations.

Key details

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  • Financial stocks are companies operating in the finance industry. 
  • Some of the biggest companies in the world are financial stocks such as banks and mortgage lenders. 
  • The best financial stocks have delivered large gains over the years to shareholders. 

What are financial stocks?

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Financial stocks are stocks of companies such as banks, mortgage companies, stock market exchange operators, lenders, credit card companies, and financial technology (fintech) organisations that make up the gigantic global financial sector. 

What are the defining characteristics of financial stocks?

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1) They’re in the money business

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Sounds simple, but it’s important to remember! Neither individuals nor businesses will get very far without the ability to acquire loans, invest their money, and finance their everyday lives. That means that while financial companies may evolve, their core services remain integral in any economic climate. 

2) Their overheads are relatively low

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Companies that operate factories and carry large product inventory burn through lots of money in the everyday operations of their business. Financial companies on the other hand deal with money, moving it around digitally and thus requiring relatively less money to run their business. Those low costs fatten financial companies’ profit margins, which in turn boost their stock price.

3) They garner lots of government support

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When the 2008 global financial crisis thrust many huge banks into grave danger, world governments responded by bailing out many of those banks, regardless of how culpable they were for the crash in the first place. Thus was born the term “too big to fail,” a reminder that if you invest in a certain class of financial stock, you can feel fairly confident that governments will at least partly protect your investment in times of crisis, as the ramifications of letting large financial institutions fail would be disastrous to society.

4) They’re often a good barometer of overall economic health

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To fund their operations, businesses of all sizes rely on financial companies such as banks to provide loans and other forms of financing. So if loans, initial public offerings, and other major financial transactions are happening in large numbers, that’s a good sign for both financial firms and the economy as a whole. 

Why are financial stocks popular?

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No other industry can succeed without backing from the financial industry, and so there is always the need for companies to be thriving in the financial sector. From offering loans to financing initial public offerings, financial companies provide fuel for other companies (as well as billions of individuals) to live and do business every day. The best of those financial stocks have delivered huge gains over the years, making them attractive bets for investors. 

What are some examples of financial stocks?

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If you’re looking to add some financial stocks to your portfolio, here are some options that are worth considering.

1) MSCI (MSCI)

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MSCI is a global stock market index operator and provider of portfolio analysis tools. Its stock has been a monster, more than doubling in price from year-end 2018 to June 2020.

2) Goldman Sachs (GS)

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The investment banking giant is one of many financial stocks that got walloped during the coronavirus-induced market downturn of the spring, only to bounce back as the broad market rebounded. The size and influence of Goldman Sachs make its stock a good bet for many investors.

3) American Express (AXP)

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American Express’ stock has followed a pattern similar to Goldman Sachs, falling hard for about a month, bottoming out in late March, then working its way back up. The credit card provider’s stock was up more than 50% from its March lows as of June 2020.

4) Square (SQ)

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Square is a mobile payment services provider that reported nearly $5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company’s stock was barely affected by the COVID-19 market downturn, and then began shooting higher. As of early June 2020 it had reached a 52-week high and kept riding higher.

How do I find financial stocks?

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Several different websites offer screening tools that let you research the best financial stocks based on parameters such as earnings per share, revenue growth, and the stock’s relative price strength. But you can simply stay right here, on this site you can also examine some of the best financial stocks right here on this site, thanks to our monthly lists of financial stocks on the rise.



Sources & references
Risk disclaimer
Prash Raval
Financial Writer
Prash is a financial writer for Invezz covering FX, the stock market and investing. For over a decade he has traded spot FX full time while... read more.