Universal Banking

DEFINITION of 'Universal Banking'

A banking system in which banks provide a wide variety of financial services, including both commercial and investment services. Universal banking is common in some European countries, including Switzerland. In the United States, however, banks are required to separate their commercial and investment banking services. Proponents of universal banking argue that it helps banks better diversify risk. Detractors think dividing up banks' operations is a less risky strategy.

BREAKING DOWN 'Universal Banking'

Universal banks may offer credit, loans, deposits, asset management, investment advisory, payment processing, securities transactions, underwriting and financial analysis. While a universal banking system allows banks to offer a multitude of services, it does not require them to do so. Banks in a universal system may still choose to specialize in a subset of banking services.

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