The Hurun Report surveyed 393 Mainland Chinese ‘millionaires’, defined as individuals with a personal wealth of RMB10 million (HK$12.7 million). They do this each year and it gives an interesting insight into what those with often newly-acquired wealth actually do.
These included 69 super-loaded individuals with wealth of RMB100 million. Their average age is 38 years (39 among the super-rich band) and the ratio of men to women is 6:4. Respondents were from 23 first and second tier cities. Hurun has been doing this for a decade now, so they have built up a solid bank of data.
First revelation is that China’s super rich tightened their belts last year, relatively speaking. They spent 15 per cent less than the previous year, though probably not as a result of Mr Xi’s austerity measures, because hopefully they are not also working as Government officials. Nevertheless, maybe their selfish genes were kicking in because their spending on gift giving was down a dramatic 25 per cent.
They’re an interesting bunch, workaholics who only take 7.5 days’ holiday per year and spend eight days a month on business trips, one day more than last year. Collecting expensive watches, for years their favourite hobby, has for the first time been overtaken by accumulating Chinese ink paintings, which takes them into the murky world of Chinese art dealing. As I reported yesterday, 29 per cent of them prefer to send their offspring to a British secondary school, as opposed to the 26 per cent who favour US schools.
When it comes to third level education, 36 per cent want them to study in America, ideally Harvard. They have caught the business aviation bug, with 40 per cent saying they intend to use private jets, but half are happy to time share. That’s a change: usually mainland Chinese have no interest in chartering or part owning their jet, they want it outright. The reason being the whole appeal of private aviation is go anywhere any time and if you have to negotiate with other owners that’s the fun and spontaneity gone. They will find their high-flying ambitions curbed for a few years anyway, by the lack of private jet-friendly airports and ground facilities in China.
While red wine and watches remain the gifts of choice for the super-rich, up to a staggering RMB20,000 per item, travel vouchers and healthcare products are now acceptable alternatives. That seems like a colossal sum to budget for one gift, but they live in a different world.
And it seems they devote much time to making sure it's a different world, with 64 per cent having emigrated or planning to do so as soon as possible. That’s up from 60 per cent before. Six out of ten of the super rich have holiday homes too, within China, Yunnan and Sanya top of the list. I wonder if they will discover they like the idea of a holiday pad more than the reality and hardly ever go there. When it comes to jetting off, Australia is the new France, knocking France into second place for the first time in four years. Well, it's a lot closer, the weather's better and you don't have to grapple with French. And the food and wine are just as good and probably better value.
Only 15 per cent want to ditch their Chinese nationality, with most saying they are merely looking for permanent residency. America is top of their emigration wish list. Heaven knows why. Next comes, in order, Europe, Canada, Australia, Singapore and only then, Hong Kong. The number headed for Europe is increasing. Again, you have to wonder why. Linguistically, it must be difficult and cities like London can be pretty lonely places if you don't already have a network of friends.
For luxury travel it's Australia, followed by France, Dubai, Switzerland, Maldives, the US, Germany, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand.
There is no obvious logic to this Why would anyone want to holiday in Dubai, a sandpit with sky scrapers? Yet it has shot up the list. And the Maldives - that's a long way to go when you have sandy beaches in Sanya. Without the mosquitoes.