The number of millionaires in Asia-Pacific has jumped sharply to overtake Europe, a study revealed on Thursday, driven by the fast-rising super-rich of Hong Kong.
Millionaires in the region — who have a total of almost $11 trillion — became worth more collectively than their counterparts in Europe in 2009, but there are also now more of them, at 3.3 million, versus 3.1 million in Europe.
The report on high-net worth individuals (HNWIs) — defined as anyone with investable assets of at least $1 million — was issued by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and consultancy firm Capgemini.
“Asia-Pacific’s continued strong performance cements the region’s strategic importance to every wealth management firm with global aspirations,” said Michael Benz, Asia-Pacific head of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.
“Now the world’s second-biggest HNWI market in terms of population and wealth, it is more pertinent than ever for the wealth management industry to keep enhancing their service to this diverse region,” he added.
The region is now second only to North America, which has 3.4 million millionaires.
The number of millionaires in Hong Kong grew 33.3 percent in 2010 to 101,300, compared with 76,000 in 2009 — the second straight year in which the city’s super-rich population grew the most.
The rocketing number of millionaires in the southern Chinese city was due to a healthy economy as well as gains in the equities and real estate markets, said the report.
It also noted the fast growth of Indian millionaires, where the HNWI population became the world’s 12th largest in 2010, its highest placing.
Six out of 10 economies with the highest growth in HNWI population 2010 were from the Asia-Pacific, with Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singapore completing the region’s list.
Asia, which has emerged quickly from the global recession, has produced some of the world’s richest people including Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani and Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, nicknamed “Superman” for his business prowess.
The Asian millionaires are collectively worth $10.8 trillion, up 12.1 percent from 2010 and more than the $10.2 trillion held by their European counterparts.
And researchers believe they will surpass North America’s $11.6 trillion soon.
“It’s getting there very close and I think it’s entirely conceivable that Asia will overtake North America in the near future,” Wilson So, a managing director at the Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management told a news conference.
“I will be surprised if that does not happen very soon,” said So, who added that mainland China will also continue to see “high growth” in the number of millionaires.
The number of mainland Chinese millionaires grew 12 percent to 535,000 people, the report said, fuelled by its stunning economic boom.
The world’s rich favoured luxury collectibles include private jets, yachts, jewellery, wine and antiques as “passion investments”, the report said.