Emerging financial centres to watch for a future career

AS THE world’s leading financial centre, London is one of the best places in the world to work in finance. The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) 2013 gives London a rating of 807 – far ahead of rivals New York (787) and Hong Kong (761).
But more cities are making their mark, and Richie Holliday of Morgan McKinley’s Asia Pacific division says different driving factors create varied opportunities. “Regions where local wealth is increasing rapidly, for example, will require more private banking and wealth management services,” he says. Others may be looking to raise finances in a growing local market to drive expansion abroad.

Here’s a few to watch for in the future.


Over the next five years, the number of individuals worth over $30m (£20m) in Africa is expected to grow by an average of 6.9 per cent per annum – the fastest rate in the world according to Wealth-X.

Johannesburg, which generates 16 per cent of South Africa’s GDP, is at the centre of this, and is attracting international banks from all over the world. In March, Standard Chartered said it would be relocating its African business to Johannesburg from Dubai – a move made by Barclays in 2011. It plans to invest $100m in the African continent over the next three years, open 110 branches and recruit 950 more staff.

Hong Kong

The IMF forecasts that emerging Asia will grow by seven per cent in 2014 – that’s over three times faster than advanced economies. This traditional expat destination is well placed to take advantage of this growth, with one of the most efficient banking systems in the world and a strong presence in equity markets. It’s also the only offshore renminbi trading centre in the world – so internationalisation of the Chinese currency could be very profitable.


The Chilean capital recently surpassed its Brazilian rival in the most recent WEF financial development rankings, climbing two places to become the highest-ranked country in Latin America. In an interview with the FT, Fernando Tisné, chairman of the Chilean investment association, says the country has been growing its domestic market for a long time, and is now looking internationally. “[Chile has] $10bn under management, almost all domestically,” he says. “We expect that in the next ten years we will be up to $25bn and that $10bn will be sourced from foreign investors.”


The UK capital is still on top. Even as its developed trading partners struggle with domestic issues, it is internationalising further. It now has the biggest Islamic banking industry outside the Muslim world: a sector that’s grown nearly 50 per cent in two years, and forecast to grow by another third in the next three.

Nigel Denison, head of wealth management and treasury at the Bank of London and the Middle East, says he looks for experienced, adaptable people with the same skills as in regular finance, adding that staff are attracted to the industry by rapid organic growth.

London already hosts three licenced Islamic banks, and services are offered by major firms like Barclays and HSBC. And in October, London will become the first non-Muslim city to host the World Islamic Economic Forum, firmly securing its place in the industry.