From Superfunds to Sustainability Commitment: Sydney Is Making Waves in the Finance World

16th November 2023

Sydney is a place where financial markets wake up; literally. Its unique geopolitical advantage, along with governmental vision and progressive thinking, has led the city to become a global financial powerhouse and a breeding ground for innovative fintech and regtech companies. At the heart of this thriving financial ecosystem lies Barangaroo, a vibrant extension of the Sydney Central Business District that has positioned the destinationas a leading example of environmentally responsible urban planning.

Words Vicky Koffa

When it comes to finance and professional services, Sydney boasts a compelling track record. It’s home to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), and 80% of foreign banks, fund managers, private equity firms, venture capitalists, and fintech startups, all conveniently located in one compact area. This concentration of financial institutions creates a thriving ecosystem, where ideas flow freely, and innovation is the norm.

What sets Sydney apart is its strategic location on the map since it is one of the first major capital markets to open each day. This feature alone makes it a vital global business centre. Moreover, Australia’s compulsory superannuation scheme, which has collected significant pension funds, attracts major banks, fund managers, and investors to Sydney. 

Sally Loane, CEO of the Financial Services Council (2014-2021), currently Chair of Ignition Advice and Destination NSW and non-executive director of Chubb Insurance Australia, says: “All sorts of businesses associated with financial services come to Sydney to take advantage and grow funds from that superannuation pool. It grows every single day because we have a mandatory system. As a result, financial services is one of the leading contributors to our national economy, and Sydney is at the centre of that economic growth.”

Sydney’s allure is evident in the presence of esteemed companies like HSBC, PwC, Visa, KPMG, Westpac, Swiss Re, and Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers, among others, that have chosen Barangaroo as their base of operations. As Ms. Loane points out, Barangaroo represents Sydney’s might in the finance and professional services industry and serves as a central hub for major players in the sector. This concentration of potential business collaborations is a fertile ground for any association event with a view to creating impactful change.

Innovative Fintech & Regtech Scene

In addition to traditional finance, Sydney has emerged as a hotspot for fintech and regtech innovation. With over 800 fintechs based in Sydney and more than half of them at Barangaroo, the city is undoubtedly the fintech capital of Australia. Sydney’s digitally active and affluent population makes it an ideal launching pad for new fintech ventures.

Australia’s fintech success is bolstered by substantial industry and government support. Incubators like Stone and Chalk provide valuable guidance to fintech startups, and government programs like the enhanced regulatory sandbox (ERS) facilitate the emergence of innovative financial services. Australia is also the third-largest regtech hub globally, offering technological solutions to simplify business operations and ensure compliance with a complex regulatory landscape.

Michael Rose, Chairman of the Committee for Sydney, believes that Sydney’s status as a global city with a diverse and well-educated workforce positions it to drive change in the finance and professional services industry. “To be globally competitive from a market like Australia, you have to be prepared to be innovative,”he says. Furthermore, the city itself, with its strong health, education, legal, commercial, and financial sectors, offers an exceptional quality of life that few other cities can match. It’s a combination that makes Sydney the complete package for professionals in the industry and an unrivalled destination for like-minded business events.

Barangaroo, Sydney

Sustainability: The Core of Barangaroo’s Success

Barangaroo doesn’t only pride itself as being Sydney’s thriving business hub; it has also set new benchmarks for environmental and social sustainability. Once a disused part of the city, the development of Barangaroo presented a unique opportunity to reimagine urban living that prioritizes the well-being of both the planet and its inhabitants.

Barangaroo’s dedication to sustainability is evident in its ambitious targets, including achieving carbon neutrality, becoming water-positive, and diverting 80% of operational waste from landfill. It has become the world’s first large-scale climate-positive precinct, setting new standards for responsible urban development worldwide.

Anita Mitchell, Chief Executive of Placemaking NSW, who led the environmental and social sustainability strategy for the Barangaroo South development, underscores Barangaroo’s role as a sustainability trailblazer. “Barangaroo symbolizes our drive for innovation,

sustainability and the knowledge economy. It really provides a drawcard for celebrating the lifestyle that Sydney offers. We’re really proud of the fact that there are a number of other precincts that are following Barangaroo’s lead in setting up their carbon-neutral processes,” she says.

One of the most significant innovations is Barangaroo’s Australian-first biosolar green roof study. This study, led by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, explored the benefits of green roofs in enhancing energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and promoting biodiversity. It achieved a 3.6% increase in energy generation and removed 81 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases.

The living sea wall in Barangaroo emulates natural marine structures and fosters a thriving underwater habitat. It comprises habitat ’tiles’ made from materials like oyster shells and crushed sandstone, attracting native marine organisms. This innovation, pioneered in Barangaroo, is now being rolled out globally.Barangaroo’s commitment to achieving zero waste is reflected in its 78% landfill diversion rate. Additionally, more than 30,000 LED globes were used to light the three International Towers at Barangaroo South, marking the largest installation of LED lights in the world when the buildings were constructed.

The Full Package

Sydney’s financial prowess, fintech and regtech innovation, and its commitment to sustainability through Barangaroo have combined to position it as a global leader in finance and professional services. The city’s ability to gather top talent and innovative companies has attracted major conferences like the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Global Conference 2022 with over 4,500 attendees. With a concentration of some of the most innovative financial minds in the world, Sydney offers an ideal platform for business events committed to creating change in a sustainable way.

For more information on Finance & Professional Services in Sydney visit

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