China’s richest worry less about making more, and more about meeting maker

‘High-net-worth’ crowd is shifting focus from investing to end-of-life issues, according to report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 11:17pm

The nation’s wealthiest people are shifting their attention from investment to end-of-life care, with health, retirement and ­funeral arrangements looming as bigger issues, according to a ­survey.

Health care was the biggest concern for high-net-worth individuals polled for this year’s survey by Taikang Insurance and Hurun Report, displacing last year’s top issue – investments – which fell to third.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman at Hurun Report, said China’s richest people, many in their 40s, were “more concerned and anxious” about insufficient social security and health care among other problems they might face when they were older.

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China has 13 million people with at least 10 million yuan (HK$11.6 million) in net assets, and their preferences are closely watched by various goods and services providers aiming to capitalise on their purchasing power.

According to the survey, half of 1,125 respondents chose health care as their “topic of interest” this year, up from 42 per cent last year and ahead of sport at 44 per cent.

They exercised 16 times on average each month – up from 14 times last year, with running still the favourite form of physical activity, followed by swimming, yoga, walking and golf.

Financial investment fell as a core interest, from 53 per cent of respondents last year to 39 per cent this year, as the stock market stalled and regulators tightened their grip.

Most respondents said they were highly likely to buy life insurance in the next three years, especially endowment and health care insurance.

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The retirement preferences of parents also changed dramatically this year, the report said. About 63 per cent said they would prefer to spend their retirement years at home, down from 85 per cent, with interest in high-end ­retirement homes doubling.

“The main rationale for this preference is that elderly parents are unable to access the health care services they require if they stay at home,” the report said.

Respondents expressed interest in end-of-life services that combined palliative and psychological care and met religious needs. They were also interested in the legacy they would leave for the next generation.

Religious convictions were more common among wealthier respondents, with more than 60 per cent with at least 30 million yuan saying they had such beliefs. More than 30 per cent of all respondents said they were religious – with 23 per cent Buddhist and 6 per cent Christian. “The proportion of religious high-net-worth individuals has grown. These ­beliefs strongly affect their ­demand,” the report said.

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Over the past year, in spite of China’s slowing economic growth, the number of wealthy individuals continued to rise rapidly alongside the sustained growth in housing prices in first-tier cities. As of May, an estimated 13.4 million people had more than 10 million yuan in assets, up 10.7 per cent from last year. Those with at least 100 million yuan numbered about 89,000, a 14.1 per cent increase.