March 25 ,2014 | by Hari Srinivasan

Chinese Languages Flourish In The City Of London

Chinese Languages Flourish In The City Of London

French is still the top foreign language spoken in the City of London, but Astbury Marsden has found that Mandarin and Cantonese are catching up in London business circles.


Finance is a truly international industry. Traders, analysts, consultants and other professionals are constantly communicating with their counterparts in other centres around the world. So it’s no surprise that language skills are particularly popular in the City of London.

According to the latest research from recruiter Astbury Marsden, French is still the most commonly spoken foreign language in London’s financial sector, with more job applicants citing these skills on their CVs than any other language. That may not be surprising – France is one of the UK’s nearest neighbours, and the language is commonly taught in schools. But what is particularly interesting is the growing popularity of Chinese.


Mandarin leapt four places in this year’s rankings to become the fourth most commonly quoted language on CV applications in the City. What’s more, though it was not even in the top ten last year, Cantonese has appeared in sixth position on the list. According to the report’s authors, the findings are proof positive that London is consolidating its position as the biggest renminbi trading hub in the world outside of China itself.

Since the government announced a deal last year which meant British institutions could invest in Chinese stocks and bonds directly from London, the City has definitely seen a spike in its dealings with Chinese traders and institutions. What’s more, Chinese investors are taking more of an interest in the prime London property market and Chinese banks wishing to set up UK branches will be subject to less regulation.

Given that more trade is also taking place with emerging markets in Asia, where Mandarin or Cantonese may be a more comfortable language for finance professionals to use, it is easy to see why these languages are becoming more highly sought.


But it is important to remember that four of the top five languages are still European – French, Spanish, German and Italian are all still popular. The top ten are completed by Indian languages, Russian, Arabic and Portuguese, which all correspond to growing markets in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

The findings don’t just highlight the importance of language skills in a competitive market, but they encapsulate the way that markets – and the world in general – are changing. Traditional financial centres in the US and Europe will increasingly have to jostle for position with burgeoning new markets around the world.

Hari Srinivasan

Hari is the LSBF Blog's News Editor. He manages the editorial content on the blog and writes about current affairs, SME, entrepreneurship, energy, education and emerging market news.

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