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8 Global Cities To Move To For a Career in Finance

global financial hub finance jobs

Finance continues to rank as one of the most desirable career paths for MBA graduates (the whopping six-figure salary might have something to do with it).

If you’re one of the many planning to use an MBA to advance your career in finance, you should know that the landscape is changing and a number of new cities are beginning to challenge London and New York’s reputation as the leading global financial hubs.

Each of the below cities is home to leading financial institutions, stock exchanges, banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies, and can offer graduates high living standards to accompany that top-level salary.

Los Angeles

Each of these eight cities has been included in the latest edition of the Global Financial Center Index published by the British think tank Z/Yen Group and the China Development Institute. The CFGI compares the competitiveness of the world’s leading financial centers based on a survey of more than 29,000 people worldwide, taking into account indices from the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The first of our leading global cities to feature in the GFCI is Los Angeles, showing that it has more to offer than just the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Tinseltown. If you want to combine your financial career with some West Coast, California living then Los Angeles might be the place for you.

San Francisco

Or, alternatively, you could give San Francisco a try. In 2017, San Francisco reclaimed its crown as the US’s second-largest banking center – offering a whole host of opportunities for MBA grads wanting to land a job in the many large financial institutions and venture capital firms in the city.

Geneva

According to GFCI’s report, Geneva made a huge jump from 26th to 9th this year. The Swiss city is one of the most livable, yet one of the most expensive cities on the planet, with a number of financial institutions, asset management firms, and watchmakers calling Geneva home.

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Singapore

Island-nation Singapore transformed its economy off the back of hard work and political stability and is one of the most business-friendly countries in the world today. Singapore is a leading destination for wealth management and insurance firms.

Shanghai

Experts predict that Shanghai will become the world’s biggest financial center within a decade, and it’s unsurprising when taking into account the city is home to the world’s fourth largest stock exchange with a market cap of over US$4 trillion.

Tokyo

The Japanese capital is HQ for several investment, insurance, and banking giants. The Tokyo Stock Exchange is the third largest in the world, following suit behind NYSE and Nasdaq. It’s an incredibly expensive city to live in, so landing a well-paid job will be key to ensure e you thrive.

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London

London has been a global financial hub since the London Stock Exchange was founded in 1698 so its inclusion on this list isn’t really a surprise. However, since Brexit many businesses have said they would move their offices and investments to other cities in Europe, which made the city’s economic prospects seem less promising. Whether it will continue to be an attractive destination for MBA graduates remains to be seen.

New York

New York is still the world’s leading financial center and home to many of the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, credit rating agencies, and private equity firm. Two of the world’s largest stock exchanges by market cap – NYSE and Nasdaq – are based in New York. Wall Street is calling, right?

Forecasting the future

At the beginning of the year, New York-based consultancy firm Duff & Phelps surveyed 240 senior financial executives on where they considered the world’s top financial center to be located now and where they predicted it would be in five years’ time.

While New York and London came out on top currently (with 56.2% and 33.7% percent of the vote respectively), there was less confidence they would still be the most notable cities for financial companies in the future.

By contrast, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt are all expected to grow over the intervening period.

8.7 percent of survey participants said Shanghai would be the next global financial hub by 2025 – and it’s no wonder. Shanghai houses the largest stock exchange in China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), and the SSE Composite tracks the performance of over 1,600 listings with US$4.9 trillion in combined market capitalization.

Elsewhere, with US$27.2 billion exported in financial services annually, Singapore’s economy has grown at an average of 7.7 percent per year since the country’s independence, one of the highest growth rates in the world.

The global financial sector is still primarily influenced by New York City and London; however, perceptions definitely seem to be shifting and the eventual destination of MBA graduates will do too.

Both cities will of course retain their reputations as massive financial capitals in the future, namely due to their prominence in the sector through history, however, it’s clear that emerging hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai will provide big competition.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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