Location, location, no location

Words gain the power as we face the digital death of financial centres

London's Mayfair is considered the epitome of posh. Its celebrity is due to its historical proximity to Buckingham Palace. Physical proximity to what as the seat of monarchical power used to be very important.

The pub used to be the centre of social activity: you bumped into friends, settled differences, bought poached game from the local lord's estate or snapped up a new TV that had probably fallen off the back of a lorry.

In the ancient market cities the clothiers, the goldsmiths or the spice merchants clustered in their "quarter" that would draw in customers and allow traders to keep an eye on the competition – an early version of market transparency.

Falling footfall in financial centres?

A report1 that shows London and New York losing out to financial centres to Asian financial centres. How the City of London will fare in the wake of Brexit raises questions about whether location is as important as it once was. And if proximity pales into unimportance, what will replace face-to-face communications if where a financial centre is located ceases to be relevant?

The pub is in decline with many closing every week. The physical market, in the form of the high street, is in retreat. Social media is in ascendency. People are choosing to fraternise of Facebook, buy dodgy TV's on eBay and shop on Amazon rather than engage or exchange in a particular location.

Can questions about the usefulness of a "global financial centre" be far behind? Sure rise of Asian banking is seeing the burgeoning of the banking, asset management and investment options in Chinese financial centres and sure doubts are being cast over London's future role by the political flux over Brexit.

Seeing the whites of their eyes

But the migration of stock exchanges, commodity trading floors and derivatives exchanges from the floor of the open outcry system to flickering images on multiple desk-bound screens have long been harbingers of the decline of physical financial centres.

Rubbing shoulders, seeing the whites of the opposition's eyes or weighing up their body language has long ceased to be in the trader's armoury. If the sight, feel and smell of interaction are no longer tools of the trade, has location lost its lure?

And if location, location, location is no longer the imperative for interaction other forms of effective communication become vital.

If a firm seeks to promote, persuade, present, advocate or float an idea when the power of public peacock strutting is no longer an option, it gives alternative communications far greater weight.

Clear, readable, authoritative writing is a crucial and influential alternative to face-to-face communications in promoting, persuading, marketing, selling and maintaining clients.

The power of content on a website, in a blog, in a descriptive case study or a thought-provoking thought leadership article are replacing well-located real estate as the determinant of interaction and engagement.

Being near Buckingham Palace remains an attractive option if, on the spur of the moment, the Queen invites you around for a cup of lapsang souchong. But that no longer carries the same influence as the trader with a smart phone on a Bermudan beach.

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