Paris is closing in on London as a major global financial centre since the result of the 2016 EU referendum prompted industry decision-makers to review their European operations. 

The French capital made a big leap forward in the latest edition of the biannual Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), published by London-based think tank Z/Yen on September 19, 2019, to feature in the top 20 for the first time. Although London remains far ahead as it confirmed its status as the second best financial centre in the world behind New York and ahead of Hong Kong, current uncertainties over Brexit affected its overall rating while boosting Paris’s and those of other EU financial hubs. 

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“If Paris continues on this trend, it would overtake London in two years,” Mike Wardle, Z/Yen head of indices, said as he unveiled the results of the latest reading of the index. 

French authorities have been proactively upgrading the Paris financial sector in the wake of the referendum by improving the city’s business environment and pitching new opportunities to companies looking to move functions outside the UK in order to keep an EU footprint.

These efforts have paid dividends so far. The city has attracted record numbers of foreign investment projects into the sector since June 2016, according to foreign investment monitor fDi Markets. No other EU city - apart from London - attracted as much FDI into its financial industry as Paris did in the period, while its status in the GFCI by Z/Yen has improved to 17th overall position, from 32nd before the referendum. 

However, Mr Wardle added, French authorities have still much work to do to match the appeal of top financial centres, particularly with regard to both physical and digital infrastructure.