More money, same problems: Hong Kong’s wealthiest still concerned with quality of life and education

Survey finds the number of people with between HK$1 million and HK$10 million in assets grew 14 per cent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 4:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 10:29pm

Hong Kong’s growing number of millionaires are still worried about the city's education system and quality of life, according to a recent survey.

Citibank’s latest affluence study found the number of millionaires in the city – people with between HK$1 million and HK$10 million in liquid assets – grew 14 per cent, from 768,000 in 2015 to 878,000 in 2016.

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“If you look at the numbers, [the increase is mainly young people],” said Lawrence Lam, head of retail banking at Citibank Global Consumer Banking.

The bank surveyed a total of 3,770 people with assets of HK$1 million or more and aged 21 to 79 years.

While the number of multimillionaires in the city – people with liquid assets of more than HK$10 million – remained steady at 59,000, 53 per cent of them increased their wealth through new investments such as stocks, foreign currencies, mutual funds or bonds.

But even with more money, the city’s wealthiest 1 per cent were still concerned about Hong Kong’s education system and quality of life.

The number of multimillionaires that reported the living environment as a major concern jumped from 11 per cent in 2015 to 36 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile, 42 per cent named education as an issue, saying they were more concerned about their children’s schooling than their own retirement.

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On the city’s economy, more than 55 per cent of multimillionaire respondents forecast a negative outlook for the city’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Property remained the main source of investment for the city’s multimillionaires, with 86 per cent owning one or more properties and 37 per cent owning three or more. However, high property prices have made the rich more reluctant and led them to diversify into other asset categories, Lam added.

“I think the culture of people in Hong Kong and China is usually that their first dream asset is property,” Lam said.

“That’s why around 15 per cent of wealth [of millionaires] is coming from property.”

Overall, the Citibank survey found that happiness did correlate with rising wealth, but only up to a certain point. Once wealth reached between HK$5 million and HK$10 million, happiness levels began to plateau at a score of 7.6 out of 10.

While multimillionaires said they were concerned about the city’s quality of life and education system, half of them selected Hong Kong as their ideal place to retire. Canada was second at a distant 14 per cent.

The North American country was also a top destination for 16 per cent of multimillionaires who were thinking about emigrating in the next five years.