The world's ultra-high net worth (UHNW) population - individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more - rose by 12.9 per cent in 2017 to 255,810 people, a sharp acceleration from a year earlier. Their combined wealth surged by 16.3 per cent to $31.5 trillion, reflecting significantly more favourable conditions for wealth creation despite still volatile geopolitics.
According to Wealth-X estimates of global private wealth, by 2022, the global ultra-wealthy population would grow to 360,390 people, an increase of almost 105,000 compared with 2017. The level of UHNW wealth is projected to rise to $44.3 trillion, implying an additional $12.8 trillion of newly created wealth over the next five years.
On a wider scale, the number of individuals with net assets of more than $1 million totaled 22.3 million in 2017, with a combined net worth of $91.7 trillion. The number of ultra-wealthy women totaled just under 35,000, equivalent to a record-high share of 13.7 per cent.
Stronger global commodity markets and relatively stable exchange rates against the US dollar also supported UHNW wealth trends, especially in emerging markets, said the report.
Hong Kong replaced New York as the city with the largest ultra-wealthy population, while Bangladesh emerged as the country showing the fastest growth in UHNW population at 17 per cent since 2012. Double-digit increases have also been posted by Vietnam, Kenya and India, illustrating the significant opportunities for wealth creation across the emerging world.
Hong Kong's wealth creation was boosted by enhanced links with mainland China. New York posted the weakest growth among the top 10 cities.
Another global financial hub, Tokyo, maintained its top three city status. Paris jumped over London to become the largest UHNW city in Europe. China's largest UHNW city of Shanghai was well down the rankings, partly reflecting the wide dispersion of ultra-wealth across the country. However, China accounted for 26 of the 30 fastest-growing major UHNW cities over the past five years.
All seven major regions recorded growth in their ultra-wealthy populations and in combined net worth. The fastest growth was in Asia, which posted an increase in ultra-wealth of 27 per cent.
The Middle East remained the fourth-largest UHNW region in 2017, just ahead of Latin America and the Caribbean, but recorded by far the weakest growth both in its ultra-wealthy population (up 4.4 per cent) and combined net worth (up 4.8 per cent).
"Wealth creation in the region has proved challenging over recent years, amid significant social unrest and a comparatively weak trend in commodity markets. Global oil prices entered a bear market in mid-2017 but then rallied strongly in response to Opec's efforts to rein in supply, delivering wealth gains over the second half of the year," the report said.
The US remained by far the leading country for UHNW individuals in 2017, accounting for a 31 per cent share, but it recorded the weakest growth in its ultra-wealthy population and net worth among the top seven countries. Collective wealth in China jumped by 33 per cent, generating large gains in average net worth. The top 10 UHNW countries all experienced double-digit growth in total wealth.
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