'Let me tell you about the rich. They are different from you and me.' This famous quote, taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story The Rich Boy, is just as famous as the putdown credited to the literary critic Mary Colum who said: 'The only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.' Since those heady days of America in the 1920s and '30s, the fascination with the rich has hardly wavered; all that has changed is a growing volume of studies about the rich. One of the latest, the Julius Baer Wealth Report Asia, produced in co-operation with CLSA, is packed full of little gems. First up, for those obsessed by Hong Kong's position in international comparison tables, the Special Administrative Region is, yet again, pipped at the post by Singapore as having the wealthiest people in Asia (excluding Japan in this survey). In US dollar terms, the median level of wealth (meaning investible assets, besides property for one's own use) in Hong Kong is US$152,000, compared with a modest US$9,000 in India, US$11,000 on the mainland, and US$35,000 in Taiwan. But fear not, in Gini coefficient terms, which measures wealth disparity, Hong Kong is still there right at the top of the league. This survey defines high net worth individuals (HNWI) as those with over US$1 million to invest. Impressively, tiny Hong Kong accounts for 7 per cent of the HNWI wealth in Asia, above even tinier Singapore, which accounts for 6 per cent but understandably well below China, the world's most populous nation, which accounts for 43 per cent. China's share of Asian wealth is projected to rise to 49 per cent by 2015, while Hong Kong's share of the action is estimated to slip back to 5 per cent at this time. The Baer report says there are 86,000 millionaires and 484 billionaires in Hong Kong. To put these figures in perspective, it means that the SAR, with a population of about six million adults, has about half the number of HNWIs found in India, with an adult population of about 730 million. At this point, a note of caution: despite the best efforts of this survey's researchers, tracing the cash of the very rich is no easy task. Indeed, as they get richer, they tend to make even greater efforts to obscure their wealth. So, none of these figures can be taken as wholly accurate - better as indicators. Julius Baer has also looked at its own client base and compared how its HNWI clients have allocated their investment portfolios across the world. Asian clients keep something like 62 per cent of their wealth in equities with 28 per cent equally divided between bonds and the money markets. In Europe, equity holdings account for 38 per cent of HNWI portfolios, with 29 per cent in bonds and 17 per cent in money markets. Also, Asian investors keep only half their funds in home-based investments, compared with Europeans' 70 per cent in home-based assets. This tells us what we sort of already knew: Asian investors are more adventurous - or is that they are more sceptical about opportunities closer to home? People with money tend to like investing in property. In Asia, some 40 per cent of HNWI wealth is in property assets, and this survey makes modest assumptions about the prospects for growth of these assets from 2010 to 2015. It projects, for example, that Hong Kong property will end the period only 3.5 per cent up, while Singaporean property is forecast not to grow at all in value. For those with higher risk tolerance, Indonesia and Malaysia are said to offer the best growth prospects, at 11 per cent, followed closely by Thailand at 10 per cent. Perhaps also unsurprisingly, Hong Kong, home to so many rich people, is the place where the kind of things the rich buy - such as lavish wedding banquets, golf club memberships and private medical services - are vastly more expensive than most other places in the region. But Hong Kong is still a bargain basement for the rich when it comes to buying luxury cars, watches, cigars or women's handbags. What are the risks to Asian wealth? According to this study, a wary eye needs to kept on the Chinese economic bubble and the vagaries of the US dollar, but it says nothing about political risk.