Drop in rankings has put a cloud over Hong Kong’s standing as a financial centre. Photo: Bruce Yan

Hong Kong overtaken by Singapore as third leading global financial centre

Although margin still narrow, lawmaker says Legislative Council delays in approving projects have hit city hard

Hong Kong risks losing its competitive edge after being overtaken by Singapore as the third leading global financial centre, ­according to the latest survey by research institute Z/Yen Group.

Hong Kong slipped to fourth while Singapore climbed one place by just two points among 86 financial centres surveyed for their global competitiveness.

London remained in the top spot, climbing four points in the ratings to lead New York by eight points, in the study based on 24,495 assessments by 2,520 financial professionals last year.

A spokesman for the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau pointed out that Hong Kong was still just behind Singapore by a very narrow margin.

“It shows the competition is very keen in the financial services industry in the region.”

The spokesman added that different surveys used various methodologies, saying Hong Kong had been named the world’s second most competitive economy after the US in the International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Yearbook.

In the latest survey, Shanghai and Beijing rose five and six places respectively, ranked 16th and 23rd. Singapore was also named as the most significant financial city for the next few years, ahead of Shanghai. Hong Kong was fifth.

Lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, who represents the financial sector, said Hong Kong’s slip in the rankings was “inevitable”.

“I am not really surprised, since a lot of policy initiatives were stuck in the Legislative Council and unable to proceed,” he said, referring to filibustering in Legco.

He said Singapore had been working hard on technology and financial services while Hong Kong had been hit hard by delays to projects such as the high-speed rail link to the mainland and the proposed third airport runway.

“If the situation continues, Hong Kong will lag further behind,” he warned.