City of London overtakes New York to seize financial crown

THE CITY of London has overtaken New York to regain its crown as the world’s leading financial centre, according to a survey of industry professionals.

The City of London at dusk

The Conservative Party’s shock election triumph earlier this year helped sway the result, said City think tank Z/Yen, which published the research.

The online survey of more than 2,000 individuals ranked 84 cities around the world in terms of the business environment, infrastructure, quality of workforce and financial sector development.

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London, which had top billing for seven years running in the twice-yearly survey, lost the top spot to the Big Apple last year.

The result comes despite Europe’s biggest bank HSBC and its Asia-focused rival Standard Chartered currently deciding whether to axe their London headquarters because of a Government levy on bank profits and the uncertain outcome of an upcoming vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

London came top in every category, the report showed. Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo took third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Toronto, San Francisco and Washington DC were also named in the top 10.

The only other European city to rank among the world’s 10 leading financial centres was Zurich while Frankfurt was the European Union’s second highest ranking city in 14th place. Dublin was at 46, while Glasgow and Edinburgh came in at 70 amd 71 respectively.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of lobby group TheCityUK, said a successful renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the currency bloc was “critical” to sustained growth of its financial industry, often described as the world’s gateway to Europe.

“London faces stiff challenges from other established centres, not just New York and the likes of Singapore, but also emerging centres in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But it is the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU which is arguably the most pressing issue,” he said.

Mr Cummings, who is from Leeds, said TheCityUK continues to engage with policymakers in EU member states and in Brussels to build support for reform.

Mark Yeandle, a director, said London’s future status as the world’s top financial centre was also threatened by Government efforts to control immigration.

“You can’t have an international financial centre without an international workforce,” he told the City AM newspaper.

Another big challenge facing the City is the availability and cost of space, an unwelcome byproduct of its success.

Michael Mainelli, the co-founder of Z/Yen, told The Yorkshire Post it would be best for the UK as a whole if cities could work together more closely. The City is the place to do international deals, while back offices could be set up in Leeds, he added. He said Leeds has “grown massively” over the years in back office process, credit and fulfilment.

Professor Mainelli said: “The City is full. We have 350,000 workers every day. We are scheduled to get another 45,000 more over the next three of four years with Crossrail. You can’t walk around the footpaths.”

The research was unveiled in China today. Mr Yeandle said: “While London and New York still lead the field, the next four centres are all Asian. We are launching in China to mark the success of the Chinese centres in becoming more competitive.”