Bill Jamieson: Scotland at risk of being wiped off map by Asian financial centres

HAVE Glasgow and Edinburgh really fallen a lot down the league table of world financial centres, or a little?

After the crisis that engulfed our two biggest banks, arguably the most remarkable feature of this survey is that they are still in the global top 50 – and Edinburgh has not fallen further.

But this is a worrying survey, nonetheless. And it will puzzle many that Dublin, where the financial carnage has been relatively greater, is still ranked ahead of both. It comes in 23rd out of a total of 75 global financial centres, above Edinburgh at 27th and Glasgow at 49th. The one sliver of positive news from the survey, commissioned by the City of London, is that Edinburgh continues to hold its own as a centre for asset management, retaining its position at number 15 in the global rankings.

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The bigger story, of course, is the relentless and accelerating rise of Asian financial centres, which in turn reflects the global shift of financial wealth and power to the Far East in the wake of the financial crisis.

The report says Hong Kong and Singapore have now joined London and New York as "genuine global leaders". The gap between second place (New York) and third (Hong Kong) has been slashed from 91 points to 45. The financial centres that have risen most are Asian, with Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul all rising by more than 100 points. Glasgow has now fallen behind Taipei, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.

Scottish Financial Enterprise points out the survey was held between January and June, thus missing the "good news" of call centre expansion and new financial services investment by food retailer Tesco. However, compared with the dynamics that are now driving Asia and the growing volume and sophistication of its financial centres, this is clutching at straws. At this global level Scotland risks being wiped off the financial centre map by this epochal shift.

It needs to improve its competitive offer against other European centres, seriously improve its transport infrastructure and pull in more international companies if it is to stay in the global game.