The new global hub: Toronto?

Toronto’s Bay Street could rival New York, says a report

The new global hub: Toronto?New York, London . . . Toronto? An influential business website says Canada’s largest city—and the banks and financial services companies clustered around Bay Street in particular—could one day “blindside” traditional financial centres such as London and New York when it comes to global importance.

While Canadians in other parts of the country are no doubt rolling their eyes, Business­ says the recent financial crisis has created opportunities for up-and-coming regional financial centres like Toronto to elevate their status to global hubs just as London and New York struggle to recover from last year’s financial meltdown. Other cities in the running include Luxembourg, São Paulo, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Zurich, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo.

In Toronto’s case, the website cited Hogtown’s current status as North America’s third-largest financial centre (after New York and Chicago), as well as its ranking as a world leader in listings for mining companies. It also noted a five-year plan by the Toronto Financial Services Working Group to elevate Toronto to among the top five or seven financial centres, compared to its current ranking of between 12th or 15th. “The goal isn’t to supplant New York or London, although that would be nice,” says Don Drummond, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank and a co-chairman of the group.

To get there, the study calls for solidifying Toronto’s grip on mining and energy-based financing and trading, positioning Toronto as a global leader in the retirement financing business and establishing a global institute for “risk management.” In other words, Toronto needs to capitalize on a national economy heavily weighted toward natural resources, an aging population and Canadians’ peculiar fondness for stability and regulation. It could work—just don’t expect Michael Douglas to star in a movie titled Bay Street any time soon. M