Financial News

Asia-Pacific nudges ahead in the world wealth stakes

The personal wealth of the world’s richest individuals dropped by almost 2% last year – with the exception of those living in the Middle East.

The fall was the first since the downturn, when the wealth of the richest slumped by 19.5%.

For the first time, high net worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific has surpassed those living in North America.

Up 1.6% to 3.37 million, the region nudged ahead of North America’s rich list of 3.35 million high net worth individuals (HNWIs).

North America remained in the lead as the world’s richest region, with a total net worth of US$11.4 trillion, compared with $10.7 trillion for the Asia-Pacific.

Globally, the number of HNWIs increased by a modest 0.8% to 11 million in 2011, says the World Wealth Report from consultants Cap Gemini and RBC Wealth Management. Most of these individuals have a personal worth of between $1 million and $5 million.

Rankings by country saw South Korea replace India in 12th place, while the top three countries of US, Japan and Germany, had 53.3% the total share of HNWIs, slightly up from 53.1% in 2010. Of the top 12 countries by population, Brazil saw the greatest percentage rise (6.2%) in the number of HNWIs.

“While more people surpassed the US$1 million disposable income level in 2011, the aggregate wealth of high net worth individuals declined overall, as market volatility took its toll,” said George Lewis, of RBC Wealth Management.

“It is significant that for the first time this year there are now more high net worth individuals in Asia-Pacific than in any other region. However, losses in key markets such as Hong Kong and India meant that wealth contracted in Asia-Pacific overall.”

Someone who is a HNWI generally has liquid funds of $1 million, excluding property.

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