London declared the most important city in the world

by Ray Clancy on March 16, 2016

London is like a well-stocked honey hive for a queen bee as far as wealthy people are concerned with the UK capital city judged more attractive than any other in the world.

Over the past decade, The Wealth Report from international real estate firm Knight Frank has ranked the cities that matter most to the world’s wealthy, based on where they live, invest, educate their children, grow their businesses, network and spend their leisure time.

On all measures, year-in year-out, London and New York have vied for the two top slots. No other city comes close in terms of their breadth and depth of appeal but this year, London has beaten New York for the second successive time to win the accolade of most important city.


Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai repeated their competition for positions three to six but the report also outlines the risk that could affect the top two.

For London, the table of risks was headed by changes in taxation, reflecting five years of relatively rapid tax reform in the UK, followed by changes to financial regulation driven by the impact of European Union and domestic activism on London’s financial sector.

In New York, tax and financial regulation risk were joined by the threat from terrorism, which ranked only marginally lower in London’s case.

Looking ahead, the report suggests it is hard to say what cities could realistically challenge London and New York during the next decade. Of those who thought a challenger could emerge, opinion was divided fairly evenly between Singapore and Shanghai.

In terms of importance, the survey respondents are predicting Shanghai will eclipse Hong Kong’s appeal over the period. Interestingly, while 68% of European respondents and nearly 50% of North American respondents felt no city could overtake London and New York, Asians took a more bullish outcome with only 30% saying the status quo was set in stone.

The report also points out that there is no direct correlation between the locations where the wealthy are normally resident and the locations their advisors view as being most important to them.

This reflects the itinerant nature of many UHNWIs who increasingly educate their children overseas while working and living in multiple international locations. Working with our data partners at Sabre Airline Solutions, we wanted to understand which cities were actually the best connected to the world’s wealthy.

New York at 5,600 pips London at 4,900 in terms of resident UHNWI residents but London’s geographical position means that within a two hour flight the city is accessible to over 16,000 UHNWIs compared with New York’s 8,300.

This helps to explain why the UK capital is generally held as being more important to the global UHNWI population. The concentration of wealth within Europe propels cities in this region high up the ranking of wealth accessibility on this measure, with cities in the US and China seeing similar levels of connectivity to wealth.

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