Shanghai slated to beat Hong Kong and Singapore in race to be Asia's top financial hub

Poll of senior executives predicts bright future for Shanghai despite lack of faith in its current regulatory regime


Shanghai is set to emerge as Asia’s leading financial centre in the next five years ahead of both Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a survey of financial services executives. Nearly one in ten (9%) of the executives polled by the consultants Duff & Phelps said they believed Shanghai would be the world’s pre-eminent financial centre in 2025, behind London (22%) and New York (50%).

The finding puts China’s mainland financial hub ahead of both Singapore (6%) and Hong Kong (4%) and comes as a number of international firms, including most recently Allen & Overy, have beefed up their presence in Shanghai by forming joint ventures with local firms.

‘Overall, it’s notable that close to one in five (18%) see Asian jurisdictions leading the financial world in five years’ time,’ says the report.

Shanghai’s predicted pre-eminence is all the more striking given the lack of confidence in its current regulatory regime – just 2% of the respondents said China’s regime was the most favourable for financial services, compared to 11% who stumped for Hong Kong and the 18% who preferred Singapore; although London (30%) and New York (26%) were well ahead of their Asian rivals.

The poll took place against the background of the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong – Asia’s pre-eminent hub for international law firms - and is likely to have influenced the respondents’ faith in its long-term future as a financial centre.

The impact political uncertainty has on business confidence was underlined by the sharp decline in London’s popularity given the UK’s parliamentary deadlock over Brexit: last year 53% of respondents labelled it the global financial leader against 42% who preferred New York. That lead has vanished with London ranked second in the latest report (34%), well behind New York (56%).

 ‘If there is any consolation for London, it is that relatively few [respondents] see Paris or Frankfurt making great gains. Rather, it is emerging centres in Hong Kong, Singapore and, particularly, Shanghai that are expected to see the major growth. That may worry the US just as much as the UK.’

The executives who took part the Global Regulatory Outlook survey worked in banking, asset management, hedge funds, private equity, broker dealers and a range of other businesses and were based across the US, the UK, Europe and several other jurisdictions.

The survey also highlighted concerns over the mounting costs associated with complying with the regulatory clampdown that followed the global financial crisis.

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