London Cedes World’s Financial Center Status to New York as Brexit Worries Weigh on the City

New York regains title of the world’s financial hub over London.

Confidence in Hong Kong’s financial future continues to rise as Brexit continues to cast a shadow over the city.

Global complexities - both political and technological - are affecting regulatory compliance in the sector.

LONDON – In a year dominated by Brexit, trade wars and global financial volatility, Duff & Phelps’ latest Global Regulatory Outlook (GRO) report found that London is no longer perceived as the world’s preeminent financial center by financial sector professionals. New York has taken back the title according to the seventh annual GRO report released by Duff & Phelps, the global adviser that protects, restores and maximizes value for clients, which surveys senior professionals in financial institutions around the world.

The survey found that only 36% currently see London as the foremost global financial hub, a 17% decrease from last year. New York is now seen as the world’s financial centre by 52% of respondents, a 10% increase from 2018.  

Looking ahead five years, respondents’ confidence in London returning to the top spot does not improve either. Only 21% of respondents said that London would be the world’s financial centre in 2024. Confidence in New York’s ability to maintain its place falls slightly to 44%, with Hong Kong picked as the number one city by 12%, signalling the beginning of the ‘Age of Asia’ combined with reduced confidence in the outlook for the UK’s capital post-Brexit.

Monique Melis, Managing Director, Compliance and Regulatory Consulting at Duff & Phelps, said: “Brexit has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the UK’s world-class financial sector and its ability to dominate other major financial hubs in the coming years. Looking ahead, we see the combined effects of Brexit and the emergence of Asia with respondents expecting Hong Kong to play a bigger role as a leading global financial centre.” 

The survey also looked at how firms are coping with regulatory compliance challenges. Some of the most pressing issues facing the global financial community this year continue to involve anti-money laundering (AML) and whistleblowing. These issues are a telling indicator of the pressures shaping the global financial landscape and are influencing activity in both current and future global financial hubs.  

Significant findings of the survey include:

  • While most financial firms rated themselves as being effective at AML, 30% rate at least one of their AML components as being either ‘not at all effective’ or only ‘somewhat effective’;  
  • Nearly a quarter of firms gave themselves low marks in their internal audit of AML risk, an essential element of AML risk management;  
  • 86% of respondents agreed that whistleblowing programs should be mandatory, but only 75% of respondents noted having a program in place;
  • Firms with multinational operations are significantly more likely to have whistleblowing programs in place than firms with operations in only one country (84% vs. 54%).  

Monique Melis concludes, “Regulatory considerations continue to play a large role in strategic decision making. Our survey found that there is a correlation between how firms rate the components of their AML programs and how they rate their whistleblowing programs. Effectiveness in one program correlates with effectiveness in the other. However, while firms have become more diligent and sophisticated in their compliance and risk management, there is also a growing sense of regulatory fatigue that cannot be overlooked. Excellence in compliance begins with a mindset that extends over every aspect of the business. Without robust compliance the sector will be vulnerable to risks that are only just emerging.”  

About Duff & Phelps
Duff & Phelps is the global advisor that protects, restores and maximizes value for clients in the areas of valuation, corporate finance, investigations, disputes, cyber security, compliance and regulatory matters, and other governance-related issues. We work with clients across diverse sectors, mitigating risk to assets, operations and people. With Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps since 2018, our firm has nearly 3,500 professionals in 28 countries around the world. For more information, visit

Charlotte Webber, Rostrum
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