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The top 10 cities for a career in finance

There are finance jobs all around the world, but some cities offer more possibilities than others

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There are finance jobs to be found in nearly every city in the world, but some cities offer more possibilities than others. This article pinpoints the top 10 cities for finance jobs and examines their important features and cost of living. All of these cities are expensive places in which to live, but they also offer plentiful and high-paying jobs for finance workers.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 (in no particular order):

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Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Mercer’s* Cost of Living Ranking = 125

Well-known for its asset-management businesses, Boston is home to large money managers such as Fidelity Investments and Putnam Investments. The job market for asset management tends to be relatively more stable than that for investment banking or trading. This makes Boston a relatively appealing financial job market during economic recessions or market pullbacks.

(*Note: Mercer is an international human resources company that offers financial advice, products and services. The highest cost-of-living city is listed as No.1, and the comparison cities are rated in descending order. Numbers are as of June 2012.)

Emmanuel Huybrechts/Wikimedia Commons via Flickr

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Chicago, Illinois, USA

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 110

Chicago is home to the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, making it a hot spot for futures and derivatives trading. Large banks and brokerage firms also often have offices in America’s “second city.”

John Gress/Reuters

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 94

Dubai is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and is rapidly increasing in importance as it attempts to become the financial capital of the Middle East. Many global financial institutions are rushing to open and staff regional offices here, making this a potentially excellent time to move to Dubai. International applicants might find that they are able to find a job here even if they do not speak Arabic.

Jumana El Heloueh/Reuters

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Frankfurt, Germany

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 88

Frankfurt is arguably the finance capital of continental Europe, and is the home of large German companies such as Deutsche Bank. Many international firms also keep their European headquarters in Frankfurt.

Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

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Hong Kong

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 9

Hong Kong is one of the top cities for finance jobs in Asia and a key gateway to China. As such, this is a rapidly growing market for a wide variety of brokerage, banking, wealth management and trading jobs. While some employees may be able to get by only speaking English, knowledge of Chinese would definitely be helpful.

Vincent Yu/AP

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London, England

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 25

For those who do not view New York as the finance capital of the world, London is it. In addition to being the finance capital of the United Kingdom, nearly all of the large international banks and brokerage firms maintain a significant presence in London. London is particularly strong in currency trading, commanding more than twice the market share of its closest rivals. Like New York, London has suffered job losses due to the credit crisis.

Sang Tan/AP

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New York City, USA

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 33

New York is commonly regarded as the finance capital of the world. Many of the largest investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch are headquartered there. So too are several large banks, including Citigroup and JP Morgan. Nearly every large, global financial institution has a presence in New York. The city has lost a large number of jobs due to the credit crisis, but Wall Street is still the place to be.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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San Francisco, California, USA

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 90

San Francisco is the finance capital of the western United States. There are many brokerage and banking firms with offices in the San Francisco area, and companies such as Charles Schwab and Franklin Templeton Investments have their headquarters there. As the gateway to Silicon Valley, San Francisco has a particular focus on the technology sector, and the Bay Area is the worldwide headquarters of the venture-capital industry.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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Tokyo, Japan

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 1

Tokyo is the world’s second-largest economy and as such is the headquarter for most Japanese financial institutions as well as the regional headquarters for many international firms. Once considered a rival to New York for the title of world financial capital, Tokyo has slipped in importance in recent years as the Japanese economy and financial markets have languished. Activity has picked up recently, and if the Japanese economy continues to recover, Tokyo could thrive.

Kimimasa Mayama/Reuters

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Zurich, Switzerland

Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking = 6

Zurich is the capital of the Swiss banking industry and a great place to find a wide variety of finance jobs. Global giants UBS and Credit Suisse have their headquarters here, and the city is particularly strong in wealth management and private banking. Applicants will have more success if they speak some German or French, but it may be possible for otherwise well-qualified applicants to get by with only English.

Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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The Bottom Line

All of the cities discussed in this article offer wonderful possibilities for job seekers. Prospective employees will find that there are no wrong choices on this list, which leaves each individual free to select the city that best suits his or her interests.

David Karp/AP

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