It’s official: in many areas of financial services, Singapore is now ahead of Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is attracting greater optimism, more international bankers want to live there, and it is gaining in the two crucial sectors of sales and trade.

Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong to become the world’s third most important center behind London and New York, according to the latest Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI 32) compiled by Z/Yen London and the China Development Institute.

Singapore scored better than Hong Kong on all five criteria – on availability of human capital, business environment, infrastructure, financial market development and “reputation and general”.

However, Hong Kong ranked above Singapore in the most prestigious sectors, including banking and commerce. For sales and trading activities, it ranks third in the world, behind New York and London.

Bankers and traders in Hong Kong were also unusually optimistic about the city’s future competitiveness. Hong Kong ranked as the third most attractive place in the world behind London and New York when people were asked where they would prefer to work if they had to move to another city. – Hong Kong was mentioned 151 times by respondents, ahead of Singapore, which was mentioned only 124 times.

Chinese financial centers continued to climb the rankings, with Beijing and Shanghai joining Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Singapore among the top 10 global financial centers. Guangzhou (25e), Chengdu (34e) and Qingdao (36e) also enters the top 50, while Taipei takes 55e place.

He Jie, director of the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Financial Supervision and Administration, said in the report’s introduction that despite the impact of the pandemic, there has been “no change in the continuous shift in gravity global financial activities from North America and Europe to Asia”. adding that “financial centers in China continue to grow with a sharp rise in international influence.”

When the index is broken down into sub-sectors, Shenzhen tops the global ranking of banks based on responses from people working in the sector, with Shanghai in fourth and Hong Kong in fifth, based on responses from people working in the sector. in industry. Singapore is the top location in Asia for fintech and the third globally, while Hong Kong is ninth, according to respondents from these sectors.

The Hong Kong slippage is the result of travel restrictions and it is likely to be remedied as they are lifted. “After the depths of Covid, bankers are definitely returning to Hong Kong, having moved to other centers to escape lockdowns,” said a senior banker. Two bankers who temporarily moved to Singapore said they found it too expensive and missed the “buzz” of Hong Kong.

Nevertheless, the trend of workforce rebalancing in the region remains. “The pandemic has shown how overweight banks have become in Hong Kong in terms of population. Now they are much more taken into account and spread their resources, locating business leaders in Singapore and Australia. It also allows them to choose from a deeper talent pool,” said a Hong Kong-based headhunter.

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