Comparing major financial cities across international borders is a challenging task for any organization to accomplish.  Using people, business environment, market access, infrastructure and general competitiveness as categories of competitiveness to be evaluated, the Global Financial Centres Index ranked the top 75 favorable cities for doing business.  London, New York and Hong Kong ranked as the top three cities and were considered essentially equal by researchers.  Taken as a whole, the list reveals many current and future trends in the global business world. 

What is London doing that other business cities should attempt to replicate?  Unfortunately the answer may be that some of London’s greatest strengths are not a result of its own foresight, but rather a product of good fortune.  Positioned geographically between other major financial centers, London often serves as a bridge to new markets.  Leveraging its ideal time zone, widely spoken national language, and clear commercial law system, London finds itself naturally positioned to work with businesses and governments all around the globe.

With that said, there are still challenges for London to overcome if it intends to maintain its position as a global leader.  As 43% of survey respondents admitted they have considered leaving London for new locations and 11% reported actually doing so, it is clear that not everyone is convinced of the city’s clear leadership position.  It seems that the two factors striking the most fear into financial leaders are the possibility of reduced bonuses for bankers and a tax on bank profits.  Until a budget is published by the government putting businesses at ease, many are sure to remain wary about what is to come.

The most apparent global trend found in these rankings has to be the growth of business on the Asian continent.  Only four years ago there were only four Asian cities in the top 20, but now there are eight.  This has surpassed the six cities in North American and five in Europe that make up the 20 best cities for business.  Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Beijing are projected to continue climbing the rankings over the next few years, so this trend is not expected to go away.

The top ten countries in the Global Financial Centres Index are:  London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Chicago, Zurich, Geneva, and Sydney.  A complete list and accompanying research is available here.

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