China Economy

Mainland China shows Hong Kong how to grow millionaires

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 4:05am


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Millionaires on the mainland will grow in number nearly twice as fast as those in Hong Kong in the next two years, research shows, though more slowly than this year.

The newly rich will find the fine wine and luxury cars that come with their lifestyle are rising in price faster than the rate of inflation, the study by private bank Julius Baer also found.

Kaven Leung, the Swiss bank's chief executive for north Asia, said the number of affluent mainlanders would grow faster because theirs is still a developing economy that can grow more quickly, while Hong Kong is a relatively mature market.

In its third wealth report since 2011, the bank said the number of high-net-worth individuals (people with US$1 million or more in investable assets, excluding property) in Hong Kong grew 9.5 per cent to 113,000 this year, while the number on the mainland jumped 21.6 per cent to 1.02 million. Julius Baer estimates the number in Hong Kong will reach 134,000 in 2015, representing an annual growth rate of about 8 per cent, and the number on the mainland to reach 1.4 million, for an annual growth rate of about 15 per cent.

"Asia's growth and wealth creation engine has decoupled from mature economies, and there are clear indications that China, in particular, is moving up the value chain," said Stefan Hofer, emerging market economist at Julius Baer.

McKinsey & Co partner Kenny Lam told a conference on private banking yesterday that affluent mainlanders were looking to put about half their assets into foreign banks outside the mainland, to diversify the risk.

"They will find a local bank in the onshore market for convenience but look for more professional advice on wealth management and asset accumulation when going offshore," Lam said.

Julius Baer estimates the number of high-net-worth individuals in Asia, excluding Japan, will grow from an anticipated 2.17 million this year to at least 2.82 million by 2015. Affluent Japanese make up about half of all such individuals in Asia, and mainlanders a quarter.

The cost of luxury living for Asia's rich continues to outpace the standard measures of inflation, the bank's report says.

In Shanghai, costs rose by 10 per cent in yuan terms - excluding property, which moderated in price - as many items, such as watches, wine and cars, jumped in price from the year before.

Among luxury items, the cost of going to university showed the highest increase - a surge of more than 30 per cent - for all the Asian markets surveyed.

The second-highest price increase was for high-end wine, which rose more than 16 per cent on average.