Asia-Pacific nudges top rank for wealth as people with US$1m rises

Number of people with US$1m in liquid assets falls just shy of North America total, report says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 12:59am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 12:59am

The Asia-Pacific region will soon be home to more people with more than US$1 million to invest than North America, according to a report released yesterday.

There were 4.32 million high-net-worth individuals with US$1 million in liquid assets in the region last year, Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management's World Wealth Report 2014 said - just 10,000 short of the 4.33 million in North America. The annual report, which tracks wealth in 71 countries, said the Asia-Pacific region was expected to be No1 in terms of the number of wealthy investors this year and rank top in terms of assets next year.

The region narrowed the gap with North America in money terms last year. The total wealth of Asia-Pacific high-net-worth individuals rose 18 per cent to US$14.2 trillion last year, compared with 17 per cent growth in North America to US$14.88 trillion.

"We are very confident of the future growth of high-net-worth individuals in Asia," RBC Wealth Management managing director and head of North Asia Michael Yong-Haron said.

"Asian investors will benefit from the stable economic growth in mainland China and the economic recovery of the US and Japan. Asia will be the driving force behind global wealth growth over the next few years."

Europe took third place with 3.83 million millionaires last year, up 12 per cent from 2012. Their wealth grew 14 per cent to US$12.39 trillion.

The Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe were home to 91 per cent of the world's 13.7 million high-net-worth individuals last year. Another 1.76 million people joined their ranks, with the 15 per cent growth rate the second-highest since 2000.

The 13.7 million wealthy investors owned total assets of US$52.62 trillion last year, up 14 per cent on 2012, which Yong-Haron attributed to strong stock market performances in Japan, the United States and other markets. He said he was positive about future growth and believed the total could grow to US$64.3 trillion by 2016.

Simon Ng, managing director of RBC Wealth Management Hong Kong, said wealthy investors had been shifting from cash to bonds and alternative assets to achieve higher returns.

The wealth report, which surveyed 4,500 high-net-worth individuals in 23 major markets in February, found that while cash was still king, accounting for 26.6 per cent of the millionaires' investments, that was down from 28.2 per cent in 2012. These individuals also reduced their investments in stocks and property, with the share of their wealth in alternative investments rising to 13.5 per cent, up from 10.1 per cent in 2012.