On the commercial side, things are not much better. Many suggest that the commercial real estate sector is going to take a hit in the coming year. Additionally, businesses are reluctant to take out additional loans, which has resulted in a double-digit decline in year-on-year commercial and industrial loans, another huge money maker for financial firms.

Lastly, the special 10-year fee on large financial companies that President Obama is proposing will likely be a depressant for the sector. This fee, which is expected to generate nearly $90 billion over a 10-year period and repay taxpayers for preventing the economy from completely collapsing, will more likely than not eat away at the bottom line of large financial institutions.

In a nutshell, bank earnings will likely be better than they were a year ago, but it appears that they are not being driven by the consumer. And as long as unemployment remains high and consumers refuse to take on credit, the sector will likely have an uphill battle to fight.

Some ETFs to watch as the financial institutions unveil earnings reports include:

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF), which closed at $15.25 on Friday.

The iShares Dow Jones US Financial Sector Index ( IYF), which closed at $54.29 on Friday.

The Vanguard Financials ETF ( VFH), which closed at $30.51 on Friday.

The financial sector as a whole has been in a nice uptrend, but it is important to keep in mind the risks involved when investing in it. A good to way to protect against these risks is through the use and implementation if an exit strategy using price points at which an upward trend could come to an end.