London is the banking centre of the world and Europe's main business centre.More than 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies headquarters are situated here. Many of world's largest financial companies have their European headquarters in London too.London is the heart of the world's financial business and the centre of financial innovation and information. It's supportive legal, regulatory and fiscal regimes are underpinned by a highly efficient technological infrastructure and an unrivaled concentration and variety of expert services.
The Bank of England used to regulate the financial markets before the government launched the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to take control of financial regulation. The FSA is an independent non-governmental body which was given its full powers in 2001.London's success reflects in part Resistance to tighter regulations in a post- Enron United States, where the Securities and Exchange Commission oversees financial markets.London is also attracting investors and companies because of a perception that regulatory scrutiny is more burdensome in the United States than in London. At the same time, while London is outside the euro zone, the common Currency has helped bring depth to the capital markets of Europe, benefiting London.
London has a dominant role in several international financial markets, including crossborder bank lending, international Bond issuance and trading, foreign-Exchange trading, over-the-counter derivatives, fund management and foreign equities trading. It also has the world's largest insurance market, the leading Exchange for dealing in non-precious metals, the largest Spot gold and gold lending markets, the largest shipbroking market, and more foreign banks and investment houses than any other centre. London has scored highly on financial flows, economic stability and the ease of doing business.
The London foreign Exchange market is the largest in the world, with an average daily turnover of $504 billion, more than the New York and Tokyo combined.The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is Europe's largest stock market, listing more than 2,900 stocks, depository receipts, warrants, and Eurobonds -- nearly 20% from non-UK companies. The Exchange, which listed its shares in 2001, uses an order-driven system called Stock Exchange Electronic Trading Service (SETS) to match buy and sell orders via computer, so there is no trading floor.
Along with The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development there are more than 550 international banks and 170 global securities houses have set up offices in London. By contrast Frankfurt has around 280, Paris, 270 and New York 250.The Bank of England's Centre for Central Banking Studies conducts seminars and provides expert advice for central banks throughout the world.