Results from a biannual study into the world’s financial centres have the Virgin Islands global competitiveness ranking tumbling more than 20 spots from last September.

Z/Yen, a London-based commercial think-tank and consultancy, and the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen-based think-tank devoted to studying China’s liberalisation, collaborated to publish the 23rd Global Financial Services Index, which ranked 96 cities and jurisdictions on their financial services effectiveness.

Results were compiled using quantitative measures from the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the United Nations, as well as thousands of responses to an online questionnaire, according to the index report, which was released last month.

The VI ranked 60th in the world, 23 spots lower than its 37th-place ranking in the 22nd index published last September.

The study measures centres on the competitiveness of their business environment, human capital, infrastructure, financial sector development and reputation, and assigns them a composite score of 0-1,000, according to the report.

The VI scored 594 points overall, 69 points fewer than the previous report.

The Cayman Islands had a rating of 700, higher than any other jurisdiction or city in the Caribbean and Latin America. The British overseas territory ranked 22nd overall and jumped up nine spots from the September index.

“All centres in Latin America and the Caribbean fell in the GFCI ratings except for the Cayman Islands,” the report read. “Despite the fall in the ratings, six centres rose in the ranks, with the Bahamas leading the way rising 22 places.”

Top of the list

London topped the overall list with a score of 794, followed by New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, respectively.

Though London and New York have occupied the top two places since Z/Yen’s study was first published in March 2007, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong have closed distance since then, with less than 50 points on the scale separating the top five centres in the most recent index.

The research indicates financial centre competitiveness is shifting east: The average score for the top five financial centres in the Asia/Pacific region is now higher than the comparable figures for Western Europe and North America.

“This demonstrates that the historical dominance of the leading centres in Western Europe and North America has been eroded over time,” the report stated.

VI score

The VI’s 60th-place ranking represents the territory’s lowest score in recent history.

The VI ranked 51st in March 2017, 36th in September 2016, 46th in March/April 2016, 43rd in September 2015, and 34th in March 2015.

Kenneth Morgan, the chairman of the board of directors for BVI Finance Limited, did not express any alarm at the territory’s drop in ranking.

“We’re confident that the BVI will continue to be a leading international jurisdiction,” he said. “These indexes come and go and rankings change, but we’re optimistic.”