Best Biz Cities? London, NYC Rule; Asia Climbs

London and New York still hold the top spots as the world’s most competitive financial centers, but the economic crisis has seen Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore surge up the rankings, according to the Global Financial Centers Index.

London topped the index as "the most competitive city in the world," according to the index, compiled by z/Yen Group. The UK capital has held the title for the last three years, with New York close behind in second.

Top marks in categories such as office rent, airport satisfaction and tax rates are what helped clinch the top spots.

But fears over knee-jerk regulation in response to the economic crisis are helping Asian cities gain favor, Mark Yeandle, director at z/Yen, told CNBC.

“If one looks back about a year, on our scale of a thousand: London, New York were ahead of all the other centers by 80, 90 points. That gap has reduced significantly, the Asian centers have all come into their own,” Yeandle said.

“You’ve got Hong Kong, Singapore and now they’re only 30 or 40 points behind,” he said.

Along with fears about regulation, the main concerns highlighted by the study related to hiring and firing, Yeandle said.

The availability of skilled people and the flexibility of the job market are key, he said. That’s why European cities like Paris and Frankfurt have struggled to gain traction on the list, he added.

Other fast-growing Asian centers, including Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen also posted large rises. Meanwhile, Dubai fell from the top of the “up-and-comers” list.

The findings don’t spell the end for London and New York as financial centers, however.

The results show “the emergence of a 'Premier League' of economically and socially interconnected cities,” a spokesperson for the City of London Corporation, which commissioned the research, said.

- Watch the full interview with Mark Yeandle above.