Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Hong Kong has overtaken New York as the world’s largest ultra high net worth (UHNW) city, according to the World Ultra Wealth Report 2018.

The UHNW population comprises individuals with a net worth of US$30million or more.

In 2017 the world’s UHNW population rose by 12.9% to 255,810 people. The US accounts for 31% of the world’s UHNW population, but it recorded the weakest growth among the top seven countries, while UHNW wealth in mainland China surged by 33%.

Asia’s ultra wealthy population grew by 18.5% and its collective net worth rose by almost 27%. The region’s share of the global ultra wealthy population reached 26.5%, up from around 18% a decade ago. Mainland China, Hong Kong and India registered an increase in wealth of more than 30%, accounting for the highest share of Asia’s growth.

The top 10 UHNW economies in 2017 were the United States (79,595 UHNW individuals), Japan (17,915), China (16,875), Germany (15,080), Canada (10,840), France (10,120), Hong Kong (10,010), the United Kingdom (9,370), Switzerland (6,400), and Italy (5,960). The top 10 economies accounted for 71% of the global ultra wealthy population and 70% of total UHNW wealth in 2017.

For the first time Hong Kong topped the list of UHNW cities.

In 2017, Hong Kong had a UHNW population of 10,010 individuals, registering a 31% year-on-year growth. New York was second (8,865, +7%), followed by Tokyo (6,785, +11.9%), Los Angeles (5,250, +8.6%), Paris (3,950, +17.3%), London (3,830, +10.1%), Chicago (3,255, +7.1%), San Francisco (2,820, +10.6%), Washington DC (2,735, +7.7.%), and Osaka (2,730, +11.7%).

UHNW portfolios comprised for the most part liquid assets (34.9%), private holdings (32.2%), and public holdings (26.3%).

The vast majority of UHNW individuals were self-made millionaires (67.4%), followed by individuals with self-made and inherited wealth (21.7%). Only 10.9% had entirely inherited their wealth.

“Asian industrialists” were one of the largest UHNW groups, demonstrating the dynamism and opportunities of the manufacturing sector in the region. 41.1% of the 19,005 Asian industrialists came from mainland China.

China and Hong Kong also top the billionaire list

China’s billionaire population continued to rise in 2017 amid global record growth, according to the Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2018.

In 2017 global billionaire wealth rose by 24% to a record level of US$9.2 trillion and the billionaire population grew by 15% to 2,754 individuals.

The three economies that recorded the highest growth in total net worth of its billionaire population were mainland China, Hong Kong and India.

In 2017 mainland China had 338 billionaires with a net worth of US$1.1 trillion, while Hong Kong had 93 billionaires, whose total wealth amounted to US$315 billion.  In mainland China the level of billionaire wealth surged by 61% to $1.1trillion, raising the country’s share of global billionaire wealth from 9% to 12%.

The United States had 680 billionaires whose net worth is estimated at US$3.1 trillion. Europe was the continent with the highest number of billionaires: 821 individuals with a net worth of US$2.4 billion, comprising 29.8% of the world’s billionaires.

The top billionaire cities in 2017 were New York (103 billionaires), Hong Kong (93), San Francisco (74), Moscow (69), London (62), and Beijing (57). Shenzhen was only 9th, with 39 billionaires. Chinese cities registered the highest year-on-year growth in the number of billionaires: Hong Kong +21, Beijing +19, Shenzhen +16.

According to the report, Hong Kong’s increasing integration with mainland China has provided opportunities for wealth generation. Expansion of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement has strengthened Hong Kong residents’ investment and trade rights in China compared with other foreign investors. Improved access to interbank markets and direct trading links between Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges were also contributing factors.

However, the growth of the billionaire population is not a sign of rising prosperity for the middle class.

According to a 2018 Oxfam report, 82% of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1% of the global population, while the poorest 3.7 billion people saw no increase in their wealth. A 2017 Credite Suisse study found that the richest 1% owned half of the world’s wealth.

Despite its large number of billionaires and millionaires, in 2016 over 1.3 million Hong Kong people lived under the poverty line, according to government statistics. The poverty rate in the city stood at 19.9%, which was reduced to 14.7% through the Hong Kong government’s welfare programmes. Hong Kong middle and low income households also struggle to buy property due to the city’s notorious housing shortage and speculation.

You may like