One in nine adult Hongkongers is a cash millionaire, says Citibank survey

One in nine of Hong Kong's adults is a millionaire, a 14pc jump from a year earlier

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 11:22am

One in nine of the city's adults is a millionaire, a 14 per cent jump from a year earlier, according to a survey by Citibank, and a third of them made their money from property.

The bank put the number of Hongkongers with liquid assets worth more than HK$1 million at 601,000, the highest in the 10 years that it has carried out the survey. The richest of them, who each hold liquid assets worth more than HK$10 million, number 34,000.

Liquid assets include cash and other assets - like stocks - that can be converted quickly into cash, and exclude property.

After adding fixed assets like property, average net assets of all the millionaires soared 40.8 per cent from a year earlier to HK$13.1 million. The jump could have been owing in part to the increase in value of their property, which accounted for 63 per cent of total assets, on average.

The millionaires estimated their monthly expenses after retirement at HK$15,000 on average, nearly double that of people who have less than HK$1 million.

More than one in five of the millionaires are retired.

Of the respondents who were millionaires, 32 per cent made their money mainly from property, the highest fraction in the past four years. Meanwhile, 22 per cent made gains mainly on investments such as stocks, funds and bonds.

This may change, however, said Simon Lee Siu-po, senior lecturer in accounting and finance at Chinese University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management.

"Investment in property may not be the main way to gain money in future," Lee said. He expects prices to fall in the next phase of the property cycle.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the millionaires own property, and 31 per cent of them have more than one property.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the millionaires own property, and 31 per cent of them have more than one property

The majority expect property prices to rise this year, while most in the previous survey expected prices to fall last year.

Christine Lam, country business manager at Citibank Global Consumer Banking in Hong Kong, said the result might have been different had the latest survey, conducted in December and January, been done after the government's February roll-out of a fresh round of measures to curb property prices.

Only 5 per cent of millionaires thought it was a good or excellent time to buy property, because "many of them prefer to wait and see, since the property price has gone up a lot", Lam said.

Just over half (51 per cent) of the millionaires who made investments last year said they gained the most from stocks, followed by 18 per cent who cited property. Stocks were the preferred investment product for the next 12 months.