What is an “international financial centre” (IFC)?

An early 2007 report, entitled “Sustaining New York’s and the US’ Global Financial Services Leadership”, prepared by McKinsey & Company noted in the Executive Summary that while it “considers a broad definition of financial services – including retail and corporate banking, securities, and insurance – it focuses primarily on US competitiveness in the securities and investment banking sectors, where competition among global financial centers is most intense”.

The US has a very large economy and much of New York’s huge amount of financial services activity will relate to that economy. However, the above quote from McKinsey implies that there are certain areas (eg securities and investment banking) where activity may be more or less than what one would expect given the size of the domestic economy.

A June 2012, World Bank affiliated International Financial Corporation (IBRD-IFC) report on Moscow, “Analysis and Diagnosis of the Financial, Regulatory and Institutional Policies Required for Becoming an International Financial Center”, defined an IFC “a jurisdiction in which the level of financial business far exceeds that justified by domestic economic activity alone”

London – which always seems to vie with New York as the world’s top ranked financial center – is based in a much smaller UK economy. Singapore, which always has a high rating in surveys, has a quite tiny domestic economy. Thus, London and Singapore would seem to be true “international” financial centers.

Of course, the use of the term “international” could be seen as suggesting that an IFC should be identified as such only on the basis of its third country activities – ie not taking into account flows that  have a “home country” origin or entry. But, this would imply that the “home country” is not part of the international environment. On such a definition, New York would probably rank much lower than London as an IFC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *