Abu Dubai, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have all bounced back in the 24th Global Financial Centres Index, a financial markets competitiveness report released by British research consultancy Z/Yen Partners.
Developed in conjunction with the China Development Institute (CDI) since 2016, and updated every September and March, the Z/Yen Partners’ Global Financial Centres Index now evaluates the competitiveness of 100 financial centres across the globe, from London, New York and Hong Kong through to Baku, Almaty and Dalian – using 137 quantitative measures compiled from leading data sources and over 30,000 financial centre survey assessments.
In respect to the metrics used, which draw from sources such as the World Bank, the OECD, and the UN, the instrumental factors are broken down into the five broader categories of business environment, human capital, infrastructure, financial sector development, and reputation, with further inputs drawn from a range of global consulting firms including A.T. Kearney, Capgemini, Mercer, The Boston Consulting Group, PwC and KPMG.
Overall, ongoing jockeying at the top has seen Ney York once again overtake London at the top of the table over the past six months, with Shanghai also eclipsing Tokyo to claim the fifth spot and Hong Kong and Singapore gaining ground on the top two in third and fourth. Yet, Z/Yen Group Executive Chairman Michael Mainelli makes the strong point in the report preface that the real story is the long-term trend, which since its 2007 inception has witnessed a persistent shift from the West.
While Asian centres in particular have provided a challenge to long-term western predominance – with Z/Yen stating that it’s ‘highly likely an Asian centre will have the top slot very soon,’ the average rating of the top five centres in each geographical region has also seen the Middle East & Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe & Central Asia all make up ground on Western Europe and North America over the past ten years – with the emerging regions also bouncing back strongly after a dip in the last report period to March.
Contributing to the uptick in the Middle East were the rebounding fortunes of the Dubai and Doha financial markets, which rose significantly in the rankings (respectively up 4 spots to 15th, and 13 spots to 34th), along with Abu Dhabi (26th globally) which dropped a place but improved its overall ratings performance. A similar result was achieved in Riyadh (down one spot to 69th but up 15 rating points), while Bahrain was down in both measures to drop 8 spots to 59th.
In terms of performance over time for the top markets of the Middle East & Africa region, Doha has made its way back into the after a heavy drop following the dive in global oil prices which hit the region in 2015 – but remains in fifth spot for the region – while Dubai remains steady at the top with steady performance throughout. Tel Aviv (which shot up nine places in this reporting period), Abu Dhabi and Casablanca (up 4 spots) – the second, third and fourth markets of MENA – have drawn neck and neck, ranked from 25th to 28th globally.
For regional leader Dubai, its rise to 15th spot globally was supported by some stand-out assessments in certain sectors as adjudged by respondents working within these industries alone, including featuring in eighth place globally for banking and ninth for professional services. In terms of its stronger areas of competitiveness Dubai placed in the top dozen for all of business environment, human capital, infrastructure, and financial sector development.
“Financial centres can, and do, control large amounts of their destiny. GFCI 24 shows the wide range of strategy, competition, specialisation, and, may I say, style in which they do it,” Z/Yen’ CEO says in conclusion, with Oh Keo-don, the Mayor of Busan (a designated financial capital in South Korea now 44th on the list), adding in the report; “In the face of the 4th Industrial Revolution, new types of financial products based on AI, blockchain and cloud technology have enabled innovative forms of financial transactions that transcend space and time.”
Together with the established financial centres of Asia, especially Singapore and Hong Kong, it’s telling that the biggest market regulators in the Middle East have all made a concerted push towards encouraging the fintech sector to gain a competitive international edge – with the help of some of the world’s leading consultancies, including Accenture in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Global Market in conjunction with KPMG, Deloitte together with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, and Roland Berger in Bahrain.