Singapore to usurp Switzerland as top finance hub by 2015: Study

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Singapore will dethrone Switzerland in the next two years as the world's top centre for managing international funds, a study said on Thursday, as a global tax crackdown and tighter regulation weaken the Alpine nation's appeal to investors.

Switzerland, still the world's biggest offshore financial centre with US$2 trillion (S$2.5 trillion) in assets, came ahead of rivals Singapore, London, Hong Kong and New York in the 2013 ranking, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers as part of its Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey.

But respondents to the survey, which questioned 200 finance industry professionals from 51 countries, also said they expected Switzerland to lose ground, with Singapore taking the top spot in the next two years.

Switzerland's tradition of banking secrecy has helped its financial sector thrive but is under massive pressure from the United States and elsewhere, as cash-strapped governments seek to stop tax evasion and close loopholes.

Switzerland and other international financial centres will be forced to create special areas of expertise if they are to differentiate themselves in future, as transparency and increased regulatory standards create a more level playing field, the study said.

It added that centres located in emerging markets stood to gain in stature.

Respondents also named Shanghai and Dubai as fast-growing centres, closely followed by Brazil, Miami and Mexico City.

"Competition between traditional and newer IFCs and cities for the wealthy is expected to intensify," the study said.