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Investment banking, facilitating foreign direct investment, private equity investment, corporate banking and wealth management are all attributes that make Calgary an internationally recognized financial centre.

Those specific qualities were identified in a report from The Conference Board of Canada this week titled Stronger Together: The Strengths of Canada’s Four Global Financial Centresthat charts a way forward for the financial services industry in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. 

Canada is consistently rated as having of the soundest financial systems in the world and the report recommends better leveraging the unique and strengths of the four key financial centres to enhance their international prominence and elevate Canada’s global reputation.

Economic diversification beyond the oil and gas sector, into areas such as financial services, is one of the key elements in Calgary Economic Development’s 10-year economic strategy Building on our Energy.

“Financial services activities act as the lubricant that enables all business activity in the economy to operate smoothly,” said the Conference Board report on the sector that employs 791,000 people nationally and accounts for seven per cent of Canada’s GDP.

There were two recommendations in the report:

  • Further develop the nascent Fintech – financial technology – sector in all four cities to employ the disruptive technologies transforming financial activity from banking to payments to wealth management globally.
  • Work cooperatively to more effectively market Canada’s strengths as a global financial centre.

The Global Financial Centres Index ranks all four cities among the top 30 financial centres in the world. Toronto is ranked 10th with the three others all in the 20s – Montreal is 21st, Vancouver is 22nd and Calgary is 28th.

In total, 44 per cent of the 42,800 firms providing financial services in Canada operate in those four cities.

“Access to capital is critical to the economy and businesses in Calgary have benefitted from the strong financial services industry here,” said Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development. “As we diversify our economy there is a world of opportunity for financial services companies in Calgary – and Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto – that we should target to leverage and enhance Canada’s international reputation.”

All of Canada’s major banks and financial institutions have operations in Calgary as do eight of the world’s 10 largest banks and all of the Top 10 investment global banks. Bloomberg Data has calculated that in the five years up to 2015 Calgary’s financial services sector handled 12 per cent of all global energy deals.

The Conference Board concluded that Calgary’s strengths are aligned with the “unusually large number of firms headquartered in the city … in particular the size and importance of Calgary’s oil and gas sector is a major driver of the financial activity.”

The Conference Board listed slightly more than 2,700 head office locations in Canada and Calgary – with four per cent of the population – is home to eight per cent of the head offices in the country. Most are in the energy sector but the Conference Board noted that firms like Canadian Pacific Railways, WestJet Airlines, Agrium and Shaw Communications contribute to economic diversity beyond oil and gas.

The report also concluded Calgary has the highest incomes in the country, with per capita disposable incomes nearly 60 per cent above the national average

Discussion

BY Stephen Ewart

Manager, Research & Strategy

Research & Strategy

Stephen joined our Communications team in 2016 from the Calgary Herald where he was a columnist on the energy industry. He had previously worked in communications roles with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Cenovus Energy, Encana and Precision Drilling and in journalism with The Canadian Press and the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick.

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