A Race for Excellence: Top Financial Centers in the Global Power City Index

In the mission to conduct a holistic analysis of 48 global cities’ “magnetism,” or their collective power to attract people and enterprises, the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute of Urban Strategies’ Global Power City Index (GPCI) has historically collected data from six functions: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility. In order to expand the criteria to provide more accurate outcomes, experts at Mori have added the finance function, providing an analysis of the various facets of global cities’ financial strength and ranks them across a detailed set of indicator groups. These include financial instrument markets, financial intermediaries, foreign exchange and interest rate markets, and highly skilled personnel. These indicator groups were evaluated and then averaged to create scores, which were combined to produce collective rankings. 

With the addition of the financial function, some cities were able to better their scores and rankings, while some trailed behind. And thus, Mori establishes strength in the finance industry to be a keystone in the global future. 

A Global Financial Future 

In a globalized world with growing financial interdependence, certain cities have earned the title of financial centers, and others on the periphery have developed missions to establish themselves as such. Mori explains: “With the rapid expansion and internationalization of the financial industry, competition between cities has intensified, and the importance of implementing measures to maintain or enhance their status as financial centers has grown significantly.” And with a collective analysis of the various sectors and facets of the financial industry, this function gives insight into the strengths and weaknesses of global financial cities. 

Indicator Groups 

  • Financial Instrument Markets: Evaluating stock market capitalization, stock market trading value, options/futures transaction volume, and capital raised through IPOs. The top five cities in this indicator group are New York, Shanghai, Mumbai, Chicago, and Hong Kong. 
  • Financial Intermediaries: Evaluating top bank headquarters, top insurance company headquarters (both of which were collected from Forbes’ The Global 2000), top pension funds, and top asset managers. The top five cities in this indicator group are Tokyo, New York, Beijing, Toronto, and London. 
  • Foreign Exchange and Interest Rate Markets: Evaluating foreign exchange turnover and interest rate derivatives turnover. The top five cities in this indicator group are London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. 
  • Highly Skilled Personnel: Evaluating employees in business support services, top international law firm offices, personal income tax, and financial industry–related unicorn companies. The top five cities in this indicator group are London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Beijing. 

Top 5 Cities


Sustaining its reputation as a powerhouse in keeping with its first-place position in the GPCI, London has already ranked the top financial center in the world. Securing the top position in both foreign exchange turnover and interest rate derivatives turnover, London has a strong niche in the foreign exchange and interest rate markets indicator group. Also taking the top position in highly skilled personnel—with notable strengths in financial industry–related unicorn companies and international law firm offices—London proves to have a vast set of strengths. However, going forward the city would need to develop a larger focus on financial instruments markets as they pose a significant weakness. 

New York

Slightly behind London, New York achieved the top ranking in stock market capitalization and stock market trading value. The city’s strengths appear to be largely based in the financial instruments markets indicator group—where it secured the top position—albeit with apparent weaknesses in capital raised through IPOs and options/futures transaction volume from the same indicator group. New York’s main weakness was employees in business support services from the highly skilled personnel function.


Ranking first in financial intermediaries, Tokyo is a leader in top pension funds, with further strengths in insurance company headquarters and banking headquarters. Without any major weaknesses—with the exception of personal income tax within the highly skilled personnel indicator, Tokyo stands with certitude as a strong financial center. However, Mori notes that with the high financial capacity within these funds, Tokyo needs to strategically develop strengths in other sectors in order to optimize its future as a financial center. Furthermore, with a torpid economy, it will be interesting to see how Tokyo’s position as a financial center will be affected. 


Beijing is highly regarded for financial intermediaries, by which it ranked third as well as highly skilled personnel, achieving a solid fifth position. However, Beijing has blatant weaknesses in both the financial instrument markets and foreign exchange and interest rate markets indicator groups, whereby it ranked 37th and 36th respectively. Going forward, Beijing would need to focus on ameliorating these weak points while simultaneously cultivating its strengths if it wants to establish itself as a strong financial center.


Although falling behind in the rankings for the GPCI—falling from 10th to 15th this year— Shanghai has proven itself an impressive financial center. For capital raised through IPOs criterion within the financial instrument markets indicator group, Shanghai received the top position. This could be attributed to the STAR Market in Shanghai, which contributes a bulk of funds raised through IPOs in mainland China. However, Shanghai does have evident shortcomings, notably in the financial intermediaries indicator group. 


In keeping with the importance of finance as a driver of urban magnetism, cities have become increasingly competitive in financial sectors to attract international clients, personnel, and enterprises. As London, New York, and Tokyo sustain their top positions in the GPCI, this demonstrates a virtual monopoly on global functions. However, with Beijing and Shanghai achieving the fourth and fifth positions, it also shows that Chinese cities have a formidable position in the financial world. Although Paris and Singapore ranked fourth and fifth on the GPCI, they rank tenth and ninth respectively on the financial function. However, when combining the finance function with the other six functions, both retain their previous positions. 

Furthermore, in broaching the dismal economic situation in San Francisco that has spawned a high crime rate, the GPCI’s findings take note of its growing office vacancy, and how this has adversely affected the economy—albeit with a hopeful note of a decreasing unemployment rate. A question to consider is whether this is a result of the exodus of Silicon Valley personnel post-Covid. From 2022, the city fell from the 24th to the 27th position in the GPCI. However, when taking into consideration the financial function, San Francisco attains a new position of 22nd. Of note is its third-place position under the highly skilled personnel indicator group. However, this begs the question as to whether the city can improve its overall score come next year. 

Recommended: Insights from the 2023 Global Power City Index and  The Sky’s The Limit: A Look at Azabudai Hills

Share this Story