Mauritius was ranked a lowly 63rd out of 83 financial centers by the Global Financial Centers Index 15 (GFCI), in a setback to the island economy which is trying to position itself as the financial hub of Africa.

However, this signals an improvement over last year when it was ranked 68th, and the rise in ranking was accompanied by a significant increase in its overall score from 581 to 621 points, where a high score indicates greater diversity, connectivity and specialization in the financial services space.

Across Africa, the biggest gains were seen in Johannesburg which gained 55 points and rose 11 places to 50th. Globally, Buenos Aires saw the biggest climb of 21 places to come 25th in GFCI15, whereas Rome saw the biggest fall, down 19 places to 54th.

New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore were declared the ‘Big Four’ financial centers, followed closely by Zurich to round up the top 5. While the big centers retained their supremacy, London yielded place to the Big Apple for the first time since the six-monthly index was originally published in March 2007. Another surprise upset was suffered by Tokyo, which was overthrown from fifth spot by Zurich.

The index makes it clear that the ‘Big Four’ global financial centers are being chased. The top ten centers are now within 75 points of each other while just three years ago, the difference between first and tenth was a significant 117 points.

An investment banker based in London noted that “London continues to receive bad news – LIBOR, creeping EU regulation nd corruption – I think Frankfurt and Zurich will catch up soon.”

In GFCI15, 29 financial centers climbed in the ranks, 47 centers declined, four centers experienced no change, and three centers namely Almaty, Busan and Casablanca entered the GFCI for the first time.

The GFCI was first published by Z/Yen Group in March 2007 and has subsequently been updated every six months, with the aim of examining major financial centers globally in terms of competitiveness.

The GFCI provides profiles, ratings and rankings for 83 financial centers drawing on two separate sources of data – instrumental factors (external indices) and responses to an online survey, where this year GFCI 15 has used 103 factors, of which 52 have been updated since GFCI 14 and 1 is new. GFCI 15 uses 25,441 financial centre assessments completed by 3,246 financial services professionals.

Finally, the criteria used by GFCI to judge a nation’s financial competitiveness are ‘Connectivity’ – the extent to which a centre is well known around the world, ‘Diversity’ – the breadth of financial industry sectors that flourish in a financial centre and ‘Speciality’ – the depth within a financial centre of the following industry sectors: investment management, banking, insurance, professional services and government and regulatory.

Image (Wikipedia): Across Africa, the biggest gains were seen in Johannesburg which gained 55 points and rose 11 places to 50th.

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