UHNWIs numbers grow fast

UHNWIs numbers grow fast

UHNWIs numbers on the globe grow faster than ever, research shows. But distribution of wealth is very uneven.

The richest 1% in the largest nations significantly boosted their share of the wealth last year. It happened primarily because of interest rates cuts following the Covid-19 outbreak, Credit Suisse concluded in a report last Tuesday. This is the twelfth edition of the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2021 and it is worth to read.

Wealth creation in 2020 was largely immune to the challenges facing the world due to the actions taken by governments, and central banks to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. Total global wealth grew by 7.4%.

Household wealth has been extremely resilient to the adverse economic conditions. The reduction in consumption opportunities due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, combined with income-support programs, led to a rise in saving for many people.

The household wealth outcomes in 2020 were unforeseen. Given the health and economic challenges, an optimistic forecast would have hoped that household wealth would not collapse as much as GDP. But research revealed that main determinants of wealth levels have become detached from the those affecting daily life in a pandemic-stricken economy. Wealth levels have continued to grow as if nothing unusual is happening.

Wealth differences between adults widened in 2020 for the world as a whole and also in most countries. The global number of millionaires expanded by 5.2 million to reach 56.1 million. As a result, an adult now needs more than USD 1 million to belong to the global top 1%. The ultra-high net worth (UHNW) group added 24% more members, the highest increase since 2003. 2020 marked the year when, for the first time, more than 1% of all adults on this planet are dollar millionaires. A sharp rise in the millionaires’ population.
Not everywhere the richest got more prosperous during the pandemic.

Change in the number
of millionaires by country, 2020

Adults (thousand) with wealth above USD 1 m
Main gains
Country 2019 2020 Change
United States 20,222 21,951 1,730
Germany 2,319 2,953 633
Australia 1,412 1,805 392
Japan 3,272 3,662 390
France 2,159 2,469 309
United Kingdom 2,233 2,491 258
China 5,022 5,279 257
Canada 1,436 1,682 246
Netherlands 826 1,039 214
Italy 1,293 1,480 187
World 50,873 56,084 5,211
Main losses
Country 2019 2020 Change
Brazil 315 207 -108
India 764 698 -66
Russia 313 269 -44
Hong Kong SAR 560 520 -40
United Arab Emirates 208 169 -39
Saudi Arabia 268 236 -32
Thailand 108 86 -21
Kuwait 93 79 -14
Chile 77 64 -12
Mexico 274 264 -10
World 50,873 56,084 5,211

Source: James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks, Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2021

What about the top of the top? In 2020, the UHNW group expanded by 41,420 adults, a rise of 24%, which exceeds the rate in any year this century except 2003. Most regions contributed to this rise, with Africa and Latin America the only exceptions. North America, up 21,640 (23%), added the most members. China added fewer members, an extra 9,830. But this represents a 54% increase on the number in 2019. The percentage rises were also substantial in Europe (up 17%) and Asia-Pacific (up 20%).


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