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Which European City Is Rightfully Called the Banking Capital of Europe and Why?

Numerous cities in Europe, including Amsterdam, London, Zurich, and Frankfurt are competing for the label of the European banking capital. They all boast highly developed financial infrastructure that consists of insurance companies, banks, stock exchanges, and other institutions.

European financial capitals

European financial capitals

Several European cities could be referred to as financial capitals. London, in particular, is commonly recognized as the top financial center in the world. The city is home to some of the largest European banks and financial institutions.

Frankfurt, a city in Germany, serves as a significant financial hub with the European Central Bank headquartered there. Zurich, on the other hand, is well-known for its strong banking sector, especially in private banking and wealth management. Meanwhile, Paris hosts several French banks and financial institutions, while Amsterdam is an important financial center in the Netherlands. There are also other cities, such as Luxembourg and Dublin, that function as major financial centers, particularly in the field of fund management.

Ratings of European financial hubs

Determining which city deserves the title of European banking capital is no easy feat. However, specialized rankings compiled by top financial organizations can offer valuable insights. These rankings typically take into account factors such as the size of a city’s banking market, the quality of its infrastructure, and the availability of highly skilled professionals.

Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI)

The Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI) is widely regarded as the most authoritative ranking in the finance industry. It is referenced by leading financial publications and Statista. Published twice a year by Z/Yen Partners in partnership with the China Development Institute, GFCI reports have been documenting the progress of the world’s leading financial centers for the past 16 years. The index evaluates the size of the banking markets, infrastructure quality, and availability of professional talent in each city.

Financial experts rank cities based on various factors. In the 32nd version of the GFCI ranking, which is valid as of March 2023, 119 cities worldwide are listed. If we consider only European capitals, then the top 10 European banking centers would look like this:

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Frankfurt
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Geneva
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Zurich
  8. Munich
  9. Berlin
  10. Edinborough.

As for the global rating, only London (2nd place after New York) and Paris (10th position in the world ranking) made it to the top 10 European banking capitals.

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International Financial Centers Ranking 2022

Compiled by the CEOWORLD team, the above rating is based on a global survey of 228,536 financial experts. The latter evaluated 250 cities across 100 factors in 7 broad areas of competitiveness, including:

  • business environment;
  • scope and scale of financial activities
  • capital market size;
  • availability of human capital
  • quality of business infrastructure
  • reputation
  • international capital management.

The survey was completed in late July 2022. If we consider only European cities, these are the top 10 contenders for the title of banking capital:

  1. London
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Zurich
  4. Paris
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Munich
  7. Frankfurt
  8. Stockholm
  9. Geneva
  10. Brussels.

The notable feature of this ranking is that London is at the top, followed by New York in second place. Moreover, among the top 10 cities in the list, 6 are from the European continent, which is quite impressive.

Go ahead and learn how you can set up a bank account in a European capital remotely as a non-resident.

Strengths of European banking capitals

In Europe, the capital of each country is typically seen as the leading financial hub. However, regional centers vie for the role as well, offering perks that may outshine those of the country’s main city.

London

London is among the primary rivals of New York for the title of the world’s financial capital. Many banks, insurance companies, and fintech firms are headquartered in the city. The daily turnover of the London currency market amounts to USD 3.8 trillion. This is more than the combined turnovers of Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore.  London houses the headquarters of multiple investment managers. The latter manage the funds that their colleagues in any other European city can only dream of.

Paris 

Paris, the capital of France, has emerged as a strong contender to London’s position as the European leader, especially after Brexit. The departure of Britain from the EU has led to many financial companies relocating from London to Paris. According to Paris Europlace, the financial sector in the French capital employs approximately 180,000 people. Paris is home to the headquarters of several leading French banking groups, including Groupe BPCE, BNP Paribas, and Société Générale. Key European regulators such as the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Banking Authority are also located in Paris.

Overall, Paris has become a hub for the financial industry, and its position as a major European financial center will gain greater significance in the years to come.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt is considered the financial capital of Germany and the wealthiest European city, making it one of the wealthiest cities in Germany. With over 200 banks and 7,900 financial and investment companies and funds, Frankfurt is a major hub for the financial industry. The city is also home to large branches of renowned consulting firms, agencies, as well as legal and auditing firms from around the world.

Frankfurt houses the largest stock exchange in Germany, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The latter is one of the leading trading platforms globally. The city is also home to several important European financial supervisory bodies. Here are some of the said authorities:

  • The European Central Bank (ECB), which oversees monetary policy for the Eurozone
  • The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), which supervises the insurance and pensions industry in the EU
  • The European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), which assesses and monitors risks to the stability of the financial system in the EU.

Overall, Frankfurt’s status as a major European financial center is cemented by its numerous financial institutions and regulatory bodies, making it a crucial player in the global economy.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a dynamic city that holds a prominent position as a European financial and technological hub. The city boasts the presence of major Dutch banks such as ABN AMRO and ING, alongside more than 50 international banks including MUFG, Norinchukin, and the European Investment Bank. Amsterdam houses several leading accounting and insurance firms and is home to numerous pension funds. With its thriving financial and technological industries, Amsterdam offers excellent opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.

Geneva

Geneva, located in Switzerland, is a bustling city and the administrative center of its namesake canton. Known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, Geneva houses over 37,000 financial specialists and 87 banks. Additionally, the city is home to several global organizations, including the headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Red Cross. The financial sector plays a vital role in Geneva’s economy, contributing more than 12% to its GDP. With its thriving financial industry and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Geneva is a desirable location for businesses and professionals alike.

The aforementioned cities are just a few examples of the numerous urban centers boasting highly advanced banking infrastructures. Such cities are prevalent throughout Europe, with almost all major capitals and population centers characterized by a plethora of banks and payment companies. To put things into perspective, The Banker has reported that there are currently over 5,000 financial institutions operating solely within the European Union.

With such an extensive selection of banks available, it can be a daunting task to find the right partner on your own, especially if you add the additional requirements for customers to the equation. If you need to open a personal or corporate account in a European bank, please do not hesitate to reach out to the International Wealth pros. This is as easy as ABC, just send your contact information to our email address at: info@internationalwealth.info. The International Wealth experts are quick to respond and will provide you with valuable information.

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