Structured finance is a sector of finance that was created to help transfer risk using complex legal and corporate entities. This transfer of risk, as applied to the securitization of various financial assets (mortgages, credit card receivables, auto loans, etc.), has helped provide increased liquidity or funding sources to markets like housing and to transfer risk to buyers of structured products; it also permits financial institutions to remove certain assets from their balance sheets as well as provides a means for investors to gain access to diversified asset classes. However, it arguably contributed to the degradation in underwriting standards for these financial assets, which helped give rise to both the inflationary credit bubble of the mid-2000s and the credit crash and financial crisis of 2007–9.
Common examples of instruments created through securitization include collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and asset-backed securities (ABS).