By Kate Madley

In recent years Hong Kong has been propelled to world-leading financial hub status, and it is now predicted to surpass western equivalents this decade.

A report published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) claims Hong Kong will offer 275,000 finance service jobs by 2017, an increase of 100,000 from 2007.

Financial centres such as London and New York have previously led the market, offering the highest number of jobs in the sector, but Asian hubs are growing with Singapore also predicted to double their offerings by 2017 up to 200,000.

New York and London are expected to provide in the region of 250,000 jobs in the sector, with London reducing its number of jobs from 350,000 in 2007.

On current trends, Hong Kong has ranked top of the World Economic Development (WEF) Financial Development Report for the last two years, ahead of the US and UK, which rank second and third respectively. The report analyses 62 of the world’s leading financial systems and capital markets, measuring the factors enabling the development of financial systems.

Hong Kong, the first Asian centre to top the index, climbed to first position in 2011, up from eighth in 2008.

The WEF report highlights Hong Kong’s large and efficient banking system and strong commercial access to capital as major strengths of the sector. However, weaknesses in the non-banking financial services and retail access to capital were noted as areas that needed improvement.

The report further suggests the Hong Kong Stock Exchange profited from the contribution of mainland Chinese firms. In 2011, 43% of the Exchange’s firms were listed as mainland Chinese companies, this accounted for 56% of the Exchange’s market capitalisation.

The input from the Chinese economy will continue to aid Hong Kong’s growth in the financial sector.