The 2015 Wealth Report from global property consultancy Knight Frank gives an in-depth look into who the super rich really are – and what they are spending their money on.
Last year, at the top of the wealth pyramid, 53 new dollar-billionaires were created, making 1,844 in total – a relatively tiny club compared with 17,808,831 dollar-millionaires across the planet.
About 15 people a day joined the ranks of the “ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs worth over US$30 million), totalling 172,850. The number of “centa-millionaires” (those with assets worth more than US$100 million) was 38,280.
The number of super rich people adds up to just over 18 million – with a joint wealth of US$20.8 trillion. Out of a global population of more than seven billion, that’s a handful of people with a serious amount of wealth.
The Wealth Report’s annual Attitudes Survey is based on insights from almost 500 private bankers and wealth advisors, and reflects the attitudes of their ultra-wealthy clients.
It revealed that 2014 was “a good year” for the wealthy. “The vast majority saw their net worth increase, and most of the respondents said this trend would continue in 2015”.
However, 21 per cent of respondents expected their clients’ philanthropic activities to increase; in this year’s survey the figure was 22 per cent, with three-quarters predicting they would remain the same.
When asked if younger UHNWIs have a different attitude to wealth than their parents’ generation, 45 per cent said they were more philanthropic. Andrew Porter, director of research for Camden Wealth, said: “Millennials take seriously the notion of stewardship and social responsibility.”
At the same time, two-thirds agreed they spent more on luxury goods. According to Ledbury Research, developing trends in the top-end goods sector show rising interest in wearable tech (Ralph Lauren, for example, is developing smart Polo Tech clothing that syncs with smartphones).
The second-hand luxury market is also booming, as are coloured diamonds and women’s watches, while Scotch whisky (especially in Asia) and super-yachts are experiencing an uptick.
The report also noted what the most popular investments are: “Art is the luxury asset where interest is rising the most – perhaps unsurprising given its accessibility – followed by watches, wine and classic cars.”
Saeed Patel, investment analyst for Schroders, said: “The scarcity of luxury assets and their historic ability to hedge against inflation make them an appealing investment proposition – it is always possible to commission a new yacht, but nobody can paint another Monet or build a classic Ferrari.”
The use of private jets is “growing steadily”, with demand rising most quickly in Asia – 38 per cent of respondents said their clients were increasingly using them for business and leisure. In 2013, the most popular private jet routes were Moscow-Nice, Miami-New York, and New York-LA.
Meanwhile, 37 per cent of respondents said their clients “increased their exposure to property as an investment” in 2014, and 35 per cent “expect that trend to continue in 2015”.
When it comes to homes (often second, third or even fourth), demand from Asian UHNWIs for vineyards “remains keen”. In Africa (29 per cent) and the Middle East (40 per cent in the UAE) equestrian residencies are more popular, while a ski chalet is most desirable to Europeans (35 per cent) and North Americans (50 per cent).
Globally, tax was highlighted as the main reason UHNWIs would consider moving to a different country, but in Russia, education and political issues were reported as two of the biggest drivers.
Over the next ten years, the number of ultra-high net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) will increase by 34 per cent to almost 231,000, particularly in Africa where the population will increase 59 per cent.
The number of ultra-wealthy people are set to grow 114 per cent in Kazakhstan over the next decade, but out of almost 100 countries, Vietnam’s UHNWI population is forecast to increase by a whopping 159 per cent.
By 2024, China is predicted to be the largest economy in the world, boasting almost 15,700 UHNWIs and 338 billionaires.
The ten most important cities to UHNWIs in 2015 are:
2. New York
3. Hong Kong
However, by 2025, it’s expected that New York will take the top spot. In the future, the cities that could rise in importance as places for the wealthy to live are Belgrade, Panama City, Addis Ababa and Yangon.