As the financial services sector is dealt ever more deadly blows in an economic climate gloomier than any other in living history, the battle lines are drawn between global financial centres. All concerned need to raise their game in order to capture investment, which is threatening – by all predications – to experience a sharp downturn in 2009.

fDi’s financial and business services sector rankings found that London has retained its pre-eminence as a global financial centre, winning a long-fought battle with New York for the title.

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Asian powerhouse

This will come as bad news for New York, which did not even make second place in the index of most competitive locations for regional headquarters for financial and business services firms. Instead, the emergence of Asia as a financial powerhouse saw Hong Kong and Shanghai take second and third place respectively and New York lagging behind in fourth place.

New York was the top US city for regional headquarters, with Chicago and Atlanta ranking second and third respectively. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, London, Paris and Dubai ranked above any other cities.

The only similarity for fund administration centres around the world was that London remained in the top spot. New York made second place, with Paris third and Tunis fourth – demonstrating the great strides that Islamic finance has made within the sector.

Benchmark services

The rankings are produced by fDi Benchmark, an online subscription database that benchmarks the cost and quality competitiveness of more than 300 countries and cities worldwide across more than 30 sectors.

The fDi competitiveness indices for fund administration centres are based on an evaluation of more than 100 location factors.

Key factors assessed include: size of the labour force in finance and business services; flexibility of labour relations; size of the financial services sector; track record in financial services inward investment; quality of infrastructure; quality of the regulatory environment; and total labour costs for financial analysts, accountants, project managers and office services specialists.