The wealthy value collect personal treasure like jewellery, fine art and antiques to form a sizeable part of their asset portfolio and the less developed their country, the more treasure they will hold, says a new survey.
On average, rich people will have nearly 10% of their portfolio as treasure items with women possessing slightly more at 11% and men owning around 9%.
The figures vary depending on the country of residence, with the rich in the United Arab Emirates topping the list with 18% of their wealth held in treasure.
They are closely followed by those in Saudi Arabia and China, who hold 17% of their wealth in treasure.
There are some exceptions to the rule but the survey appears to underline that the more volatile the country’s financial markets, the greater proportion of someone’s wealth is held as treasure.
In many cases, accumulating wealth in this way is part of local culture, and rich people in these countries tend to have a preference for wealth that is portable.
Treasure, particularly gold, is seen as being more secure and more popular than paper assets. In many countries too, treasure is seen as a strong hedge against inflation.
However, the survey by Barclays Wealth reveals that accumulating treasure as an asset is growing in popularity and is certainly more popular than five years ago.
The increasing popularity of buying treasure is recognised by the chief executive of the Fine Art Fund, Phillip Hoffman, who says increasing numbers of rich people are looking to diversify assets by buying art.
He said: “Previously, clients were more interested in bonds, real estate in equities. Now interested in a wider distribution of assets and are putting a proportion of their wealth into assets like art.”
Rich favour jewels and art
One major reason argued by experts is that the recent financial crisis has underlined how precarious a person’s wealth can be and how volatile markets have become.
For that reason an increasing number of rich people believe the treasure will give them a more stable financial worth in difficult times.
Dr Greg Davies, who leads Barclays’ behavioural finance unit, says this trend towards treasure since the financial crisis is led by an investor’s familiarity with the items.
He added: “There is evidence that rich investors are investing in their home markets and putting money into simpler financial instruments, which includes treasure assets as part of this trend towards familiarity, simplicity and tangibility.”
The survey found that the most popular category for treasure assets is precious jewellery, followed by fine art and antique furniture.