Investing in financial stocks

Invest in an industry that drives the economy.

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Financial stocks encompass more than only Wall Street. This sector touches many aspects of a consumer’s economic life, from credit cards to mortgages, including the insurance on your new home. A strong financial sector is indicative of a healthy economy. But these stocks come with unique risks. Read on to learn more about the risks and opportunities of investing in financial stocks in Australia.

What are financial stocks?

The financial sector is one of 11 stock market sectors and plays a crucial role in a healthy economy. This sector includes companies that provide financial goods and services, like mortgage loans and insurance policies, to commercial and retail customers.

What subcategories does it include?

Financial stocks can be classified by the following subcategories:

  • Banking. Diversified and regional banks that hold financial assets for customers and lend to small and medium corporations.
  • Capital markets. Companies that trade securities, like stocks and bonds.
  • Consumer finance. Providers of consumer financing and other services, including credit cards, personal loans and car leases.
  • Diversified financial services. Those that offer a range of products and services, such as banking, insurance and student loans.
  • Insurance. This industry encompasses insurance policies, from life and health insurance to property and car protection.
  • Thrifts and mortgage finance. Financial institutions that primarily offer savings accounts and originate residential mortgages.

How to invest in the financial sector

Invest in the financial sector by buying individual stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). When you purchase a stock, you get shares of that company. Stocks have fewer fees but are riskier than ETFs. If you take the ETF path, you’ll get a basket of financial stocks. You’ll probably see higher fees, but it’ll lower your exposure risk.

Here’s an overview of how to start investing in Australia:

  1. Choose a brokerage. Explore brokerage platforms in Australia to pick a firm that best fits your financial goals.
  2. Open an account. Most brokerage firms let you open an account online. Some may require a deposit to get started, while others allow you to add money when you’re ready to begin investing.
  3. Research securities. Use your firm’s research tools to browse different stocks and ETFs.
  4. Place an order. When you’re ready to start investing, place an order to buy your security.
  5. Monitor your portfolio. Log into your account to track your securities.

What stocks are in the financial sector?

What ETFs track the financial sector?

Take a look at the following sector-tracking ETFs:

  • VanEck Vectors Australian Bank ETF (MVB)
  • SPDR S&P/ASX 200 Financials ex A-REIT Fund (OZF)
  • BetaShares Australian Financials Sector ETF (QFN)

How is the financial sector performing?

The graph below tracks the Financial Select Sector VanEck Vectors Australian Bank ETF (MVB). Tracking ETF performance is one way to measure how a stock sector as a whole is doing.

Why invest in the financial sector?

The financial sector may be an attractive long-term investment because of its potential for higher returns to help you stay ahead of inflation. For example, the S&P 500 Financials Index’s returned 32.1% in 2019, compared to the Federal Reserve’s estimated inflation rate of 2%.

Long-term trends also support growth in the financial sector. When the sector is strong, the economy thrives, which can lead to higher incomes for Australian consumers and bigger profit margins for companies. As Australians accumulate wealth, they need a way to manage their funds and plan for retirement.

Another attractive characteristic of financial stocks is their high dividend yield. The sector currently has a 4.19% dividend yield, compared to the S&P 500’s modest 1.96%.

What unique risks does the financial sector face?

The financial sector comes with considerable challenges and risks.

  • Regulation. Government red tape and legislative compliance can be a burden on companies, decreasing profit.
  • Drastic rise in interest rates. When rates rise, lenders generally make more money on the credit they issue to borrowers. But if banks raise interest rates before the economy is ready to adjust to the higher cost of borrowing, demand could drop and potentially trigger a recession. A weak economy can be detrimental to financial stocks.
  • Litigation. Businesses in the financial sector spend a lot on legal proceedings, which can impact profitability and share prices.
  • Weakening economy. Financial stocks are extremely sensitive to changes in the economy.
  • Debt liability. Many financial stocks come with some credit exposure risk. During an economic downturn, borrowers may default on their credit cards and loans, leaving some lenders with a mountain of debt.

Compare stock trading platforms

In order to purchase stocks or ETFs, you'll need a brokerage account in Australia. Compare your options using the table below to find the best fit.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro Share Trading (US stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US stocks with trades as low as $50.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Pay zero brokerage on all Australian ETFs.
Trade ASX stocks with a flat $5 commission fee and a low minimum investment of just $100.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Limited offer: Get 5 free ASX trades when you open a new account with ThinkMarkets before June 30, 2021 (T&Cs apply).
Buy and sell CHESS sponsored ASX shares with $0 brokerage on your first 5 trades. Only $8 flat fee brokerage thereafter, plus enjoy free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Get 5 free stock trades and unlimited ETF trades until July 31, 2021 when you join Bell Direct.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$6.99
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, ETFs
Yes
Acess 19,000+ stocks on 37 exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. “Standard brokerage” fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Bottom line

The financial sector may be a good choice as a long-term investment in a healthy economy because of its generous dividends and long-term growth potential. But keep in mind that it’s one of the most volatile sectors of the stock market and comes with inherent risks.

Compare online trading platforms to pick a brokerage firm for your investment account.

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