London is the world's leading financial centre, according to an index published by Z/Yen Group. It overtook New York which led the chart in 2014.
The index is based on an online survey of more than 2,000 individuals who rank various financial centres across the world on the basis of factors such as workforce quality, infrastructure, business environment and development of the financial sector. According to the survey, the win by the Conservative party in the May general election helped London overtake New York this time. "We saw quite a significant change in assessments [of London's strengths] after the election. From then on the assessments were 40 points higher than immediately before the election" said Mark Yeandle of Z/Yen.
London leads the pack at a time when HSBC and Standard Chartered were mulling over whether to exit their London headquarters because of a government levy on bank profits and the uncertainty of an upcoming vote on Britain's membership of the European Union. London had topped the index for seven years in this survey, which is updated in September and March every year, but lost its position to New York in 2014. This year it stood first in every category. Other financial centres that made it to the top 10 include Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, Zurich, Toronto, San Francisco and Washington DC.
To ensure sustained growth of its financial industry, London, which is often termed as the World's Gateway to Europe, should successfully negotiate with the currency bloc, according to industry lobby group TheCityUK's chief executive Chris Cummings. "London faces stiff challenges from other established centres, not just New York and the likes of Singapore, but also emerging centres in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But it is the future of the UK's relationship with the EU which is arguably the most pressing issue," Cummings added.
According to Yeandle, London's chances of continuing as the world's leading financial centre is threatened by its government's efforts to control immigration. "Soundbites coming out of Westminster about restricting immigration add uncertainty. London still attracts a lot of good international people and I always say: you can't have an international financial centre without an international workforce" Yeandle added.