10 cities that are rapidly becoming major financial centres

The world’s biggest financial sectors feature some stalwarts — like New York, London and Tokyo — that have stayed way at the top of any rankings for decades.

But there are also dozens of challengers in the developing world that are giving the giants a run for their money, and are giving international investors access to some of the world’s fast-growing financial markets.

Some of the fastest-growing are in east Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

We took the Global Financial Cities Index released for 2015 and compared it to the same publication when it was released five years ago, to find out which of the hubs are moving up the ranks most quickly.

10. ALMATY — Kazakhstan’s biggest city has risen nine places since joining the index in 2009, and it’s ahead of Moscow or Warsaw.

REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Fireworks explode in the sky above the Kazakh-British Technical University at a fireworks and light show during City Day in Almaty, September 14, 2013.

9. BANGKOK — Thailand’s capital has climbed 11 places since 2010, though it has taken a hit during Thailand’s recent political instability.

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
The sun sets over the Bangkok skyline November 14, 2014.

8. KUALA LUMPUR — up 13 places since 2010, the Malaysian capital is taking a bigger position as an Asian financial centre.

REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad
A view of Malaysia’s landmark Petronas Twin Towers against an almost clear sky in Kuala Lumpur, June 27, 2013.

7. DOHA — Qatar’s capital has risen 16 places in the ranks over the last five years, and it’s now the Middle East’s second-most-important hub for the sector.


6. PANAMA — Panama’s unique position for Atlantic-Pacific shipping has helped its finance boom, with rapid growth raising it 13 places in the index since 2013.

REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A general view of the low-income neighborhood known as Boca la Caja next to the business district in Panama City, September 17, 2013.

5. CASABLANCA — this Moroccan city has risen 20 places in the ranks since it entered the index in 2014, and it improved by more than any hub in the Middle East and North Africa this year.

The faithful pray on the esplanade of the Hassan II Mosque on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy month of Ramadan, in Casablanca, August 5, 2013.

4. SEOUL – South Korea’s premier city has surged up the competitive ranks of East Asia’s growing financial sector, rising 21 places since 2010. For banking, the city is ranked fifth in the world.

South Korea’s capital city has one of the fastest-growing financial sectors in the world.

3. JOHANNESBURG —the South African city has climbed from 54th place to 32nd in the index since 2010, the highest-placed in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cityscape of Johannesburg in South Africa, a venue of the 2010 World Cup, February 18, 2010.

2. ISTANBUL — despite Turkey’s choppy political and economic conditions, it takes the top spot in the eastern Europe and central Asia category, rising 30 places since 2010.

REUTERS/Murad Sezer
A new bridge, which will connect new metro lines, is under construction over the Golden Horn in Istanbul, September 5, 2013.

1. RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s capital is by far the most improved financial centre on the list, rising by an astonishing 55 spaces since 2010, as the city prepares to open its financial markets to foreigners.

REUTERS/Ali Jarekji
Riyadh’s Kingdom Centre, Saudi Arabia’s iconic third-tallest skyscraper.

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