A handful of bustling international financial and business cities dominate the world’s capital markets. They have in common a stable domestic political and economic environment, financial expertise, a strong operational support system and a flexible regulatory climate. The proportional mix of these factors often determines the appeal of each hub, and the type of investors it attracts. But external factors often hold considerable sway. The COVID-19 outbreak, for example, has depressed economies worldwide, and the political shifts in the UK and Hong Kong have caused some consternation among investors. Which destinations are now the most alluring for investors and businesses?
In jockeying for position, financial centres are introducing innovative measures to enhance their competitiveness—a greater focus on fintech firms as London and Singapore have done, for example, or the launch of sustainability-related products such as green or social bonds. For its part, Japan as a financial centre is also aiming to make entry conditions for foreign financial players more flexible, and to promote participation of women in the workforce. Given the current volatility in the political, economic and health climate, how have global securities markets changed in response? How has this affected the appeal of the main financial centres? With a possible end to the pandemic in sight, where are international finance and business looking to invest? What is the outlook for Japan as a key destination in 2021 and beyond?