The number of super-rich 'ultra-high net worth' people in the world is growing

Yacht woman richPhoto by Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesA woman looks at models of luxury yachts on display during the Singapore Yacht Show in 2013

The last 12 months saw an increase in the number of super-rich people in the world, a change from the decline in 2015, despite political and market uncertainty. The biggest increases in wealth occurred in North America and Asia, with the biggest falls coming in Latin America and the Caribbean. The number of super-rich people in the world is predicted to rise significantly by 2021.

The number of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals, or those with $US30 million (£23.58 million) in assets or more, grew by 3.5% to 226,450, according to a new report by Wealth-X. Their combined wealth increased by 1.5% to $US27 trillion (£21.22 trillion), although the average net worth of each person fell for the first time since 2013.

The report expects there to be an additional 72,550 ultra rich people by 2021, in line with the general upward trend since 2012. Long-term growth drivers include urbanisation, rising income levels and an increase in the number of women in work.

Currency movements played a key role in last year’s changes, prompting substantial losses in the UK, Russia, Mexico and Brazil. Meanwhile, a strong dollar, rising equity markets and a strong tech sector entrenched the US as the world’s leading UHNW country — with New York the world’s largest UHNW city.

Meanwhile, Asia has seen the fastest rate of growth: Asia’s share of the world’s ultra wealthy population has grown from 18% to 26% over the last ten years. The report finds this is largely due to resilient economic growth and supportive currency movements in the region.

Political uncertainty throughout 2016 — including the election of US President Donald Trump, the UK’s Brexit vote, the attempted coup in Turkey and escalating tensions in the Middle East — prompted cooling investor confidence and a slowdown in the growth of global real gross domestic product (GDP). The number of mergers and acquisitions globally dropped 18% from a record high in the previous year.

UHNW individuals make up only 0.003% of the global adult population, of which 2,397 are billionaires. Only 272 of the world’s billionaires are women, compared to 2,125 men. Cash accounts for roughly a third of assets owned by the super rich, highlighting their enormous spending potential.

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