Article image

Mobilizing Toronto's Financial Sector for Global Advantage

November 01, 2009 by David Pecaut, Jürgen Schwarz, and Scott Belton
Related Articles
In This Article
  • Four priority opportunities have been identified that have the potential to create between 25,000 and 40,000 jobs and $4-5 billion in annual GDP.

  • We propose three recommendations for proactive, aligned, and focused efforts led by governments and industry leaders.
  • The report presents an execution framework to mitigate challenges and optimize probability of success.

The financial services industry has been an economic engine for Toronto. In 2008, financial services contributed over 12 percent of employment in the Toronto region and more than one-fifth of overall economic activity. The growth in financial services has more than offset the loss of jobs due to the decline in the manufacturing sector.

The region’s economy is increasingly dependent on strengthening the financial services industry and ensuring that it becomes a leading international financial center. The goal of the strategy presented in this report is to increase Toronto's competitiveness as an international financial center in order to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Create more financial services jobs in the Toronto region

  • Increase the industry's GDP contribution and overall economic impact

  • Enhance the conditions for domestic financial services players to grow and succeed internationally

  • Attract international investment and financial services to the Toronto region

  • Strengthen Toronto's position as a financial services capital and maintain financial-services headquarter jobs

Toronto has the potential to become one of the two most important financial centers in North America and among the top ten globally by 2015, perhaps even among the top five.  It has a diverse, multi-lingual, and educated talent base, excellent international accessibility, proximity to U.S. markets, a highly stable and well-regarded banking system and regulatory framework, and an existing cluster of large, respected financial services players. But, along with these strengths, the region also has a few weaknesses. While there are several major financial services companies based in the region, the city is not recognized as a global leader in any specific area. In other major international financial centers, governments and financial services industry leaders have worked together with a purposeful strategy; that shared purpose and spirit of partnership between government and industry has been lacking for the Toronto financial services industry. Other strengths and gaps of the Toronto Region have been identified, and are described in the report.

For the Toronto Region, enhancing competitiveness will require a focused strategy targeted both at leveraging strengths and addressing the weaknesses.