A survey of more than 3,000 executives around the world found that the "dominant issue in deciding where to locate is workplace related", and Sydney must do more to emphasise its desirability as a work destination.
"While Sydney's lifestyle remains the city's major selling point, the challenges are to better define Sydney's role in global talent's career path and better promote the advantages it offers for career progression," it said.
Global high-flyers nominated the opportunity to work on interesting and challenging projects as their top reason for moving cities, with "liveability" -- such as the ease of getting around and a city's safety and security -- second.
As one interviewee told the survey: "There is a time-limit or use-by date on Sydney's lifestyle offer."
The report, a collaboration between the New South Wales state government and the independent Committee for Sydney which aims to promote the city, acknowledged that competition for the cream of global talent was fierce.
Sydney, which is home to the Australian Stock Exchange and numerous global companies, was up against cities in the United States and Europe, with Asian hubs also fast approaching the top, with Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo the benchmark in the region.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's annual liveability survey published last week saw Melbourne top the list for quality of life for the third year in a row, with Sydney in seventh place.