July 12, 2016

Better Together: Building On The Strengths Of Canada’s Four Global Financial Centres

Canada has four main global financial centres—Montréal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver—each with its own unique strengths. A new Conference Board of Canada report suggests that the cities complement each other, allowing Canada’s financial services sector to have a depth and breadth beyond what any one financial centre would be able to provide.

“Canada’s financial system is recognized as one of the best and most sound in the world and has been a key driver of economic growth over the past decade,” said Michael Burt, Director, Industrial Trends, The Conference Board of Canada. “This growing international prominence has been largely driven by four key financial centres—Montréal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.”


  • Toronto is Canada’s largest global financial centre, but Canada has three others—Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver.
  • These four cities comprise the majority of financial services activity in Canada.
  • Financial services activity in each of the four cities is different, resulting in different areas of expertise that mirror their respective regional economies.
  • Canada’s financial services sector could improve its position on the global stage if its main financial centres joined efforts to better market their strengths.

The financial services sector is one of the most important to the Canadian economy, directly accounting for over 790,000 jobs and 7 per cent of GDP in Canada in 2015. Together, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary make up the majority of the activity in the sector nationally. One in every 14 private sector jobs in these four cities is in financial services and the sector accounts for an even larger share of GDP in each metro area.

Due to the composition of each regional economy, financial services activity in each of the four cities is different and each excels in different areas. The report, Stronger Together: The Strengths of Canada’s Four Global Financial Centres, identifies key strengths for each of Canada’s four financial centres.

Key strengths in Vancouver’s financial sector include wealth management, facilitating foreign direct investment, trade finance and settlement, credit unions, mortgage brokers, and venture capital. Some of these are tied to the increasing interconnectedness between Canada and Asia, as evidenced by rising trade and investment between Canada and China specifically. In other situations, Vancouver’s strengths are based on the institutions that are found there. For example, Vancouver is home to the headquarters of several of the largest credit unions in Canada, including VanCity, Coast Capital Savings, and First West Credit Union. As well, Vancouver is home to the headquarters for several of the largest mortgage brokers in Canada, including Dominion Lending Centres, and Verico.

The report, Stronger Together: The Strengths of Canada’s Four Global Financial Centres, was funded by Advantage BC, Finance Montréal, Toronto Financial Services Alliance, and Calgary Economic Development. It is available from The Conference Board of Canada’s e-Library. You can also download it from AdvantageBC’s website here.

Did you know?

  • Vancouver is among the top-10 wealth management centres in the world.
  • According to latest GFCI, Vancouver is the 5th most powerful financial centre in North America.
  • All five of Canada’s largest banks have significant operations in BC.
  • Vancouver ranked third most livable city in the world by the EIU.