Singapore and London share many things in addition a common colonial legacy. Today, both cities are among the largest financial hubs anywhere in the world.
The presence of so many large banks and financial institutions has shaped much more than the skyline of each city. Regulation, infrastructure, and taxes have all been modified to meet the needs of firms that have offices in Singapore or London. Many of the larger ones are in both simultaneously.
In addition to traditional banking, both cities have defined themselves in the twenty first century as top destinations for talented individuals in the digital economy as well as the high tech firms that employ them. As the often stodgy world of high finance increasingly embraces technological change, a number of cities from San Francisco to Stockholm are competing to be the international hub of the emerging fintech industry. London and Singapore rank at the top of many lists and either stands a good chance of establishing itself as the undisputed leader.
Two recent reports from Deloitte and Baker & Mackenzie put Singapore among the best cities globally for fintech firms and their customers. There are many factors that make Singapore a good candidate for the top spot but none more so than location.
Due to its strategic location at the heart of East Asian commerce and global shipping lanes, Singapore has been a prosperous port for centuries. Today, massive capital flows into China or smaller regional economies have brought trillions of dollars in assets flowing through the city state.
Being the financial hub of East Asia has already brought the world’s largest banks to Singapore and helped sustain new fintech enterprises. As this region becomes increasingly prominent in the global economy, established financial firms and technology start ups will find it indispensable to have a presence in Singapore.
In addition to its strategic location, the city also offers fintech companies a respected legal system for dispute resolution as well as world class infrastructure to support operations. Singapore’s dynamic culture and top tier amenities will help attract the top talent that is necessary to compete at the global level.
London is frequently raised as a potential competitor to Singapore. Despite uncertainty arising from the recent Brexit vote, the city still boasts many advantages that could make it a natural choice for fintech firms looking for the best home base.
If Singapore’s location offers it advantages access to emerging markets, London has unrivaled access to customers. As a financial hub, London straddles the Atlantic, connecting large and establish markets in Europe and North America. The city also has a thriving technology scene that will help fintech companies find and retain experienced staff. Finally, London offers many of the structural and cultural advantages as Singapore, while allowing staff to live and work in an English speaking country.
Both Singapore and London have been at the center of global finance for generations. As old brick and mortar banks increasingly embrace new technology, each city will have to transform itself to retain the established companies that currently call it home as well as attract new arrivals.