Booming global stock markets swell ranks of the super rich

World population of people in ultra-high-net-worth bracket increased by 12% last year

Almost 30,000 people joined the ranks of the global super-rich last year, as booming global stock markets boosted the fortunes of the already very-rich and tipped them over into the ultra-high-net-worth bracket.

The global population of UHNW people, classed as those with more than $30m (£23m) in assets, increased by 12.9% last year to a record 255,810 people, according to a report by research firm Wealth-X.

The Wealth-X World Ultra Wealth 2018 report, published on Wednesday, said there had been a “sharp acceleration” in the number of UHNW people due to “significantly more favourable conditions for wealth creation, despite still volatile geopolitics”. The rate of growth of the UHNW population was far faster than in 2016, when it grew by 3.5%.

Collectively, the quarter-of-a-million UHNW people have a combined fortune of $31.5tn – almost double the GDP of the US.

“Buoyed by a synchronised upturn in the world economy, rising asset markets and robust corporate earnings, the combined net worth of the ultra-wealthy population increased by 16.3% to $31.5tn,” the report said. “A testament to the auspicious economic climate, the ultra wealthy population and its total net worth increased in all seven major regions.”

The fastest growing region was Asia, with China and Hong Kong becoming particularly wealthy. Hong Kong overtook New York as the city home to the most ultra-rich people, with the new total of 10,010 UHNW individuals representing a 31% increase on the previous year.

“The broad upturn in global financial markets and the reflation trade from higher interest rates were among the drivers of robust wealth gains,” the report said. “The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the US currency so domestic rates largely followed the upward path set by the US central bank. Wealth creation was also supported by enhanced trade and investment links with mainland China, including a direct trading connection between the Hong Kong and Shenzhen bourses.”

The US is still home to the most UHNW people with 79,595, followed by Japan with 17,915 and China in third place with 16,875. The UK slipped from seventh to eighth – being leapfrogged by Hong Kong – due to “stagnant incomes and uncertainty over Brexit weighed on investor, consumer and business sentiment”.

Only 13.7% of UHNW individuals are women, but the number of women grew by 30% outstripping the 10% rate of growth for men. The study predicts that the size of the ultra-rich population will continue to increase, with the number of UHNW individuals expected to grow to 360,000 by 2022.


Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
US-China trade war and interest rate rises spell losses for the super-rich
After seven years of growth, assets of the richest people on the planet fall by 3%

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

09, Jul, 2019 @4:00 AM

Article image
More than a million people join ranks of very wealthy after stock markets boom
Number of high net worth individuals – with free assets of more than $1m – grows rapidly after US and European shares perform well

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

28, Sep, 2017 @3:30 AM

Article image
Global stock market rout leaves world with 57 fewer billionaires
Big fall in wealth in China as combined fortunes of ultra-rich dips for first time since financial crisis, says UBS

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

08, Nov, 2019 @12:47 PM

Article image
London to remain a 'magnet for global super-rich despite Brexit'
UK capital will continue to pull millionaires and billionaires from Asia and Middle East, says report by property consultants

Rupert Neate

01, Mar, 2017 @1:46 PM

Article image
Call for super-rich to donate more to tackle coronavirus pandemic
While some billionaires have pledged vast chunks of their fortunes others have been criticised for not giving enough, or even at all

Rupert Neate

11, Apr, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
China’s super-rich: the billionaires in Communist party’s sights
Country has more ultra-wealthy people than any other – and president’s patience with them has run out

Jasper Jolly

01, Sep, 2021 @6:05 PM

Article image
Global super-rich on the march as personal fortunes swell

Number of high net-worth individuals rose by 1.76 million to 13.7 million around the world, with 62,000 more in Britain alone, writes Rupert Neate

Rupert Neate

18, Jun, 2014 @6:38 PM

Article image
Family fortunes of wealthy increase as super-rich ride coronavirus storm
UBS says portfolios of 77% of richest investors are performing in line with or above target

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

16, Jul, 2020 @5:01 AM

Article image
A million more people join the ranks of the global super-rich

One third of the new wealthiest are from Asia, according to Royal Bank of Canada research

Heather Stewart

18, Jun, 2013 @9:43 PM

Article image
What to buy the super-rich this Christmas? A luxury experience, of course
Retailers’ bids to woo wealthy include private dinner inside Jimmy Choo’s or Antarctica trip

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

21, Dec, 2018 @3:00 PM