New York tops London as Financial Center of the World

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CEBR headcount by financial centres

For the first time in 14 years, New York has unseated London in the top spot among the world's financial centers, according to the Center for Economics and Business Research, or Cebr, as its better known.

The title, which is based on the number of financial services jobs, is expected to be short lived, however, as Hong Kong is on track to take that title in 2016. Not far behind and catching up fast is another Asian city, Singapore.

Most of us who work in the financial sector are hardly surprised by a long standing economic shift to the East. I can remember former Merrill Lynch CEO William Schreyer telling students in 1988 that one of the best ways to prepare for a future in the securities industry is to learn Mandarin. That advice was given out 24 years ago and still applies today.

Cebr released data earlier today that showed that financial services jobs in New York will total 254,102 by the end of this year, about 4,600 more than London's 249,512, which is down 280,350 in 2011. This is the first time New York has topped London since 1998 when Cebr started tracking these figures.

Hong Kong, which is currently the third-biggest financial center, is projected to reach 247,912 jobs by 2015, when it will overtake London, but not New York. However, by 2016 it will employ 262,043, outstripping New York to reach number one.

"Much of this shift is inevitable as a result of the world's changing economic geography," said Douglas McWilliams, Cebr's chief executive in a statement released to the media. "But we have accelerated the shift through short sighted over regulation, penal taxation and banker bashing."

According to Cebr, New York has declined by less than London because of the greater strength of the U.S. economy over the European economy, which has caused financial transactions in the U.S. to weaken by less than in Europe.

But the main reason for the shift to the East is the more dynamic growth of the Asian economies, which has created a booming demand for financial services.

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