Over the next 10 years, the world’s financial centers will stay the same – London, New York, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, Moscow has a realistic chance of joining this group, according to participants in the panel discussion “Financial Centers: Moving from North and West to South and East.” Yet this requires creating comfortable conditions for investors, upgrading infrastructure and improving transparency and the overall business climate.

Michael Milken, Chairman of the Milken Institute, whom The Washington Post once called “someone responsible for rising levels of wealth and growth of the entrepreneurial spirit in the U.S.,” believes that in the past ten years Russia has become a country with one of the world’s most effective equity markets. The most important factor in turning Moscow into a global financial center is human capital, which is why it is necessary to improve the educational and healthcare systems and to stem the outflow of intellectual resources to other countries.

By contrast, Shachindra Nath, Group CEO, Religare Enterprises Ltd., argued that new world financial centers in emerging market countries such as Russia are unlikely, since the scale of the Russian economy overall and the financial sector in particular still significantly trails the U.S., UK and other major capital markets.

According to Peter Derby, Managing Partner at the Concinnity Group, one advantage of Moscow as a future financial center is the progressive tax system. However, in order for investors to want to do business in the Russian capital, it is necessary to perfect corporate law and to build a legal society.

Oleg Mukhamedshin, Director of Capital Markets at UC Rusal, believes that global companies can register in any major financial center, regardless of their geographic location.

President of International Markets at Master Card Worldwide Walter Macnee believes that the biggest obstacle to setting up a world financial center in Moscow is under-developed infrastructure, an opinion shared by Ruben Aganbegyan, President, MICEX Group, who believes that the prerequisites to a financial center are attractive conditions for investors and ensuring convenient access to capital markets in any part of the world.

Overall, panelists and discussion participants converged in the belief that Moscow has realistic chances of becoming one of the world’s financial centers. Yet this requires implementing transformations in Russian legislation, raising corporate governance standards, upgrading financial infrastructure, as well as improving the business climate and the country’s image in the eyes of foreign investors.