New research reveals that 15% of senior financial services executives believe that Hong Kong will be the world's leading financial centre in the next five years, whilst 52% of respondents highlighted Shanghai as the leading emerging financial centre in five years' time.
Conducted by Kinetic Partners, the research study reflects the views of senior executives within the banking, asset management and hedge fund industries, and includes contributions from Fidelity International, the Central Bank of Ireland and the New York County District Attorney's Office.
Of the 88 chief executives and directors of financial services companies interviewed for the study, 65% considered London to be the world's leading financial centre at the moment, yet only 41% believed that London will still hold this place by 2018.
By comparison, New York is expected to hold its ground during this same period: 31% of respondents named New York as the world's leading financial centre, and the same number expected it to maintain this position over the next five years.
Hong Kong has the largest increase, moving from less than 1% suggesting it is currently the leading financial centre to 15% believing it will be so within the next five years.
The study also finds that 52% believe Shanghai will be the leading emerging financial centre in five years' time, with Sao Paolo (10%) and Dubai (9%) also set to gain.
Eighty-three percent say that commercial opportunities are the main reason when choosing where to conduct their business. Surprisingly, over 13% suggest the regulatory infrastructure is the key to where they look to do business.
"The financial stock of the East is rising, and Hong Kong and Shanghai are now serious contenders for this mantle - and perhaps sooner than a lot of people think," says Julian Korek, Managing Partner of Kinetic Partners and one of the authors of the study.
The survey reveal that a significant minority of CEOs now believe that Hong Kong could join London and New York as a world-leading financial centre within the next few years, largely because of its proximity to China's savings market, as well as its respected regulatory and legal system.
"However, even though it's not surprising that a large number of firms are attracted to Hong Kong because of the commercial opportunities that this region offers, we're concerned that regulation is not seen as a big enough priority by the chief executives surveyed, especially as it plays such a key role in defining competitiveness. This should act as a red flag for many: recent regulatory fines, such as with HSBC and Standard Chartered, highlight that global firms need to avoid being complacent about principle-based regulation and resist looking to implement only the minimum standards required in any one jurisdiction."
Korek urges companies to consider the global regulatory requirements as part of their commercial assessment activities. "Regulation is the key driver defining what's happening in the global financial market right now and is only going to gain in importance in the coming years."