Yes, the big three stock market indices -- the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq -- are all down over 20% so far this month. (Today alone, every one of the 30 stocks in the Dow fell.) But not every public company should be seen as off-limits right now.In fact, some of the most interesting investment plays in this market can come from the unlikeliest of places. If you're looking for a compelling value play and you're not risk-averse, some financials actually look good. Not so fast. There are some caveats, of course, to financials looking "good." There are lots of financial stocks I wouldn't invest in -- you know, those companies that saddled themselves with subprime and watched their stock prices plummet as execs tried to grasp the reigns. And those are the obvious ones. I also want to keep my distance (for now) from the big guys who've been making a business of swallowing up the sick ones. Let's face it: The financial stocks are a mess. Like I said, though, there are some attractive investments out there if you know where to look. And with some potential "pro-financial" news on the horizon, now is as good a time as any to consider investing in a select few financial stocks, if you've got the cash right now. The name of the game today is fundamentals. Stick with companies you understand and who you know can make money. Right now, there are a few criteria that eclipse the others: cash, balance sheet health, and business model. If I stumble across a company with cash coming in, enough assets to pay the bills if things get tough, and a business that's not going going to be extinct anytime soon, I'm interested. Small financials seem to offer just that right now.