Perhaps there has been a bankers’ exodus after all – from other cities to London. Bloomberg reports that banks and other financial services organisations in the City are now approaching pre-recession levels of employment. Even RBS now employs more people in its securities unit than it did in 2007. So much for that great flight of talent. Employment in the City and Canary Wharf is expected to rise steadily over the next couple of years.
Despite all the horrid taxes, regulation and banker-bashing, London still tops the Global Financial Centers Index - a list based on the views of senior financial services professionals. Whatever they may say, bankers still like doing business in London for a whole number of reasons. Those who do up sticks and emigrate often regret it soon afterwards.
But how long will this continue? Can London hold its position in the face of competition from the rapidly growing cities of Asia and Latin America?
US bank Citigroup has identified twelve megacities that it believes will boom between now and 2025. You can probably guess most of them. Hong Kong (8th), Mumbai (6th) and Shanghai (4th) are all in there. Most are from the BRIC countries. But, at number one, even boomier than all the others, is London! While its population is expected to remain unchanged, Citigroup predicts that London’s per capita GDP will rise by $29,568, a bigger increase than any other major city.
I haven’t been able to find the original report so I don’t know the thinking behind this. No other G7 city is on the list. I would be fascinated to know why the authors think that London, alone among western cities, will experience such growth. If anyone has seen the figures and the reasoning that led to this conclusion, please let me know.
Whatever their reasons, though, the folk at Citibank are clearly fans of the Great Wen, as, it seems are many others in the financial industry. Bankers, whatever they might say in public, clearly haven’t written London off yet.