Hong Kong is 'top financial centre'
Hong Kong was named the world's top financial centre for the second year running by the World Economic Forum (WEF), thanks to the strength of its business environment, infrastructure and a favourable tax regime.
The WEF's annual Financial Development Report considered a wide range of factors and underscored the rise of Asian trading centres and the influence of China as the world's second-largest economy.
However, stalling capital markets, sputtering economic growth and waning trust in financial organizations served to ensure that the top six positions remained unchanged from 2011, the WEF said.
"Macroeconomic uncertainty as well as concerns related to regulation, contributes to inhibiting the financial industry from funding much-needed growth," said Giancarlo Bruno, senior director at the WEF, which hosts an annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
Though the report noted "pockets of improvement" across some banking-related indicators, it said that these signified "only a small step in what will be a long road to recovery".
The United States, Britain, Singapore, Australia and Canada followed Hong Kong in the 2012 rankings.
Ireland placed 20th in the survey, up two places on the previous year.
The report looked at legal and regulatory factors, business environment, financial stability, banking and non-banking services, markets and access to them.
Ireland scored well in the institutional environment (11th) and business environment categories (14th) but ranked 53rd out of 60 nations in the financial stability category.
"Other areas to target for improvement include banking efficiency (55th), equity market development (46th), and commercial access (42nd)," the WEF said..
Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden made up the remainder of the top 10 financial centres.
The report said that policymakers face a "monumental" task to restore confidence in markets as waning trust in the overall system holds back investment.