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311 OVERVIEW
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(a) CHANGING THE ENVIRONMENT The nancial institutions industry has changed signi cantly in the last decade Regulatory changes and increased competition have further blurred the lines among depository institutions, mortgage banking activities, investment companies, credit unions, investment banks, insurance companies, nance companies, and securities brokers and dealers Competition has increased as all types of nancial entities conduct business directly with potential depositors and borrowers Transactions traditionally executed through depository institutions are now handled by all types of nancial institutions Increased competition has heightened the depository institutions desire for innovative approaches to attracting depositors and borrowers Institutions are seeking higher levels of noninterest income, restructuring banking operations to reduce costs, and continuing consolidation within the industry (b) ROLE IN THE ECONOMY Financial institutions in their basic role provide a medium of exchange; however, they may also serve as a tool to regulate the economy In a complex nancial and economic environment, the regulation of nancial institutions directly and indirectly is used to impact economic activity (c) TYPES OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS Many types of nancial institutions exist The more common types are described In view of the range and diversity within nancial institutions, this chapter will focus on three major types of entities/activities: banks and savings institutions, mortgage banking activities, and investment companies (i) Banks and Savings Institutions Banks and savings institutions (including thrifts) continue in their traditional role as nancial intermediaries They provide a link between entities that have capital and entities that need capital, while also providing an ef cient means for payment and transfer of funds between these entities Banks also provide a wide range of services to their customers, including cash management and duciary services Financial modernization and nancial reform legislation continues to change the way banks and savings institutions conduct business Banks and savings institutions have developed sophisticated products to meet customer needs and technological advances to support such complex and
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31 4
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FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
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specialized transactions Continued nancial reform may change the types and nature of permissible banking activities and af liations (ii) Mortgage Banking Activities Mortgage banking activities include the origination, sale, and servicing of mortgage loans Mortgage loan origination activities are performed by entities such as mortgage banks, mortgage brokers, credit unions, and commercial banks and savings institutions Mortgages are purchased by government-sponsored entities, sponsors of mortgage-backed security (MBS) programs, and private companies such as insurance companies, other mortgage banking entities, and pension funds (iii) Investment Companies Investment companies pool shareholders funds to provide the shareholders with professional investment management Typically, an investment company sells its capital shares to the public, invests the proceeds to achieve its investment objectives, and distributes to its shareholders the net income and net gains realized on the sale of its investments The types of investment companies include management investment companies, unit investment trusts, collective trust funds, investment partnerships, certain separate accounts of insurance companies, and offshore funds Investment companies grew signi cantly in the early 1990s, primarily due to growth in mutual funds (iv) Credit Unions Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-pro t cooperative nancial institutions, organized around a de ned membership The members pool their savings, borrow funds, and obtain other related nancial services A credit union relies on volunteers who represent the members Its primary objective is to provide services to its members, rather than to generate earnings for its owners More recently, many credit unions have made arrangements to share branch of ces with other credit unions and depository institutions to reduce operating costs (v) Investment Banks Investment banks or merchant banks deal with the nancing requirements of corporations and institutions They may be organized as corporations or partnerships (vi) Insurance Companies The primary purpose of insurance is the spreading of risks The two major types of insurance are life, and property and casualty The primary purpose of life insurance is to provide nancial assistance at the time of death It typically has a long period of coverage Property and casualty insurance companies provide policies to individuals (personal lines) and to business enterprises (commercial lines) Examples of personal lines include homeowner s and individual automobile policies Examples of commercial lines include general liability and workers compensation Banks, mutual funds, and health maintenance organizations are aggressively trying to expand into products traditionally sold by insurance companies In recent years the insurance industry bene ted from the strong stock and bond markets; however, slow premium growth and the increased competition continued to pressure insurers to reduce costs and improve pro tability (vii) Finance Companies Finance companies provide lending and nancing services to consumers (consumer nancing) and to business enterprises (commercial nancing) The more common types of consumer nancing include mortgage loans, retail sales contracts, and insurance service The more common types of commercial nancing include factoring, revolving loans, installment, term and oor plan loans, portfolio purchase agreements, and lease nancing Captive nance entities represent manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, and other business enterprises who provide nancing to encourage customers to buy their products and services Many captive nance companies also nance third-party products More recently, mortgage nance companies and diversi ed nance companies have increased their presence by increasing the number of loans made to higher risk niches at higher yields
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