• University of New South Wales
  • Macquarie University
  • The University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
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  • The University of Melbourne
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  • Australian Government - Treasury
  • New South Wales Goverment


New framework for ranking International Finance Centres

Sydney at number ten


8 December 2015 (Sydney):  A new study funded by the Centre for International Finance and Regulation ranks Sydney as the tenth largest international finance centre based on data of investment banking fees billed from cross-border deals over the period 2000-14.


The study titled “International Competitiveness of Australia’s Financial Services Sector” was co-authored by Dr Eric Knight from The University of Sydney and Professor Dariusz Wójcik, of the University of Oxford.


Their findings suggest that, in order to grow Sydney’s status as an international finance centre by this measure, all levels of government need to (a) support competition measures in the non-finance

sectors of the economy, and (b) encourage a flexible and open labour market. This suggests a need for the Federal Government to complement existing free trade negotiations to include working visas for labour mobility in financial services.


Knight and Wójcik, also recommended that the NSW Government focus on initiatives to drive population growth locally.


Dr Eric Knight said, “Unsurprisingly we found that the size of a city’s population is an important determinant of international finance centres, so all things being equal, cities that have the ability to grow their population will outperform. This puts places like Singapore and Hong Kong at a disadvantage because their ability to grow their populations is limited by space constraints.”


Other drivers behind the top performing cities cited by the study included EU membership, workforce flexibility, top universities, presence of a stock exchange, concentration of investment banks and professional services firms, and the ability to enforce contracts.


Counter-intuitively, sector-specific measures such as corporate taxation had limited impact on growth in cross-border fees in financial services, though measures related to individual personal taxation were relevant.


About the methodology


Existing studies of financial centre development suffer from measurement reliability, and are dependent on qualitative questionnaires. Conversely, this study relied specifically on data of investment banking fees billed from cross-border deals. These are an important proxy for wider macroeconomic performance because (a) they are an indicator of deal-making within

the real economy and (b) researchers were able to obtain comprehensive data worldwide over 15 years, which was not possible, for example, for retail banking or asset management transactions.


Top Ten International Financial Centres by cross-border fees totaled over the period from 2000-2014:





For interviews or copies of the research:


Heather Gascoigne, The Continuum Partners

hgascoigne@thecontinuumpartners.com +61 410 297 111





The Centre for International Finance and Regulation (CIFR) represents a strategic link between academia, financial regulators, policy makers and industry, promoting financial sector vibrancy, resiliency and integrity, through leading research and education.

CIFR receives funding and support from the Commonwealth and NSW Governments, and its industry, university and research centre partners.



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