Singapore and Hong Kong compete to be Asia’s top financial market

Singapore and Hong Kong compete to be Asia’s top financial market

Singapore and Hong Kong have much in common, but they are also competitors in Asia’s financial system.

When you think of finance in Asia, there are a few distinct locations that spring to mind. Tokyo and Shanghai are among the most well-known, but by far the most influential on the global and regional stages are Hong Kong and Singapore.

The two jurisdictions have a lot in common in many respects. They’re small cities that punch well above their weight in the global financial landscape, commonly used as bases for businesses looking to invest or expand into key Asian markets. Both have strong links with China, as well as with other key emerging economies across Asia-Pacific.


But many of these similarities make Singapore and Hong Kong challengers for each other’s markets, and it’s clear that the two nations are in competition for the title of Asia’s top financial destination.

So it’s no surprise that the Financial Times reports that the world is watching as Singapore becomes an ever greater competitor for Hong Kong.

Singapore has enjoyed a dramatic rise in the past few years, becoming the region’s biggest centre for commodities and foreign exchange trading. It’s also fast emerging as an important wealth management centre. Hong Kong, meanwhile, is in the lead regarding equities and flotations – and next month will see the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect service, which will allow offshore renminbi investors to access the Shanghai market through the Special Administrative Region.

On many criteria there’s little to choose between the two, and both have grown in prominence in the past few years as Western centres have suffered during the financial crisis.


New York and London remain the top two global financial centres, according to Global Financial Centres Index 15from Long Finance, with Hong Kong and Singapore in third and fourth place respectively.

Singapore takes the top spot for the ease of doing business in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s 2014 Doing Business rankings – but Hong Kong comes in just behind.

Factors such as living standards for expats and property prices are all likely to play a role in deciding which of the two financial hubs performs the best in the next few years. But as the International Monetary Fund pointed outearlier this year, they can also complement each other by serving different parts of the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region – and both will have to fend off the threat of Shanghai as China takes the stage.

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