Population of world's ultra wealthy hits 2L in 2013, India adds 120 UHNW individuals

Written by Agencies | Singapore | Updated: Sep 12 2013, 02:47am hrs
Taj MahalThere are 7,850 UHNW individuals in India with combined wealth of $935 billion. (AP)
The number of ultra wealthy people has risen much faster in the West than in emerging markets during the past year, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Almost 10,000 people in Europe and North America have joined the world's ultra wealthy population - meaning they have at least $30 million in net assets - this year while the number of such individuals in the likes of China and Brazil has fallen.

The findings, compiled by UBS AG and Wealth-X (download report), go against expectations that growth in the wealthy populations of fast-growing economies in Asia and Latin America is outstripping those of "old money" countries like the United States, Great Britain and Switzerland.

Despite Indias modest 1.6 per cent population growth, the country added more UHNW individuals (120) than any other BRICS nations in the past 12 months. However, billionaires were the weakest performing wealth tier, joined only by those worth between $200 million and $249 million who did not increase their wealth.

There were 7,850 UHNW individuals (1.6%) in India in 2013 with combined wealth of $935 billion (1.1%). The country had 7,730 UHNW individuals last year with $925 billion wealth. But India's UHNW population with $1 billion wealth fell by 5.5% to 103 in comparison to 109 bn 2012. Total combined wealth of billionaires also fell by 5.3 per cent $180 billion ($190 bn in 2012)

The lowest tier of the UHNW group represented by those worth USD 30 million to USD 49 million is the largest group, of the total UHNW population in the country with a combined fortune of USD 130 billion.

Moreover, India has also the highest number of female millionaires in the world as the country boasts of over 1,250 UHNW women with a combined fortune of USD 95 billion.

A city-wise analysis shows that more than 90 per cent of India's UHNW population live in top 10 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Gurgaon and Jaipur.

Mumbai and Delhi, however, dominate with more than 50 per cent of the country's UHNW population based in one of these two cities, the report said.

China saw a 5.1 per cent dip in the number of ultra wealthy people based within its borders while Brazil had a 13.5 per cent fall in 2013 compared with last year.

Bankers, however, say the findings don't necessarily mean there isn't a large wealthy population developing in these countries, but are more a sign that rich people in these markets are mainly entrepreneurs still focused on building up their businesses.

"When the domestic economies are doing well they tend to put the money into their businesses rather than in their private banks," said Joseph Poon, head of UBS Wealth Management's Southeast Asian ultra high net worth (UHNW) business.

Taken as a whole, the number of ultra high net worth individuals in Asia rose 5.4 per cent to 44,505, still some way behind the United States, which saw an 8.7 per cent rise to 65,505.

Looking ahead, the report's authors are forecasting that this year's trend is unlikely to continue and that Asia should have a bigger ultra wealthy population than Europe by 2021 and the United States by 2032.

"We think it's a temporary condition," said Mykolas Rambus, chief executive of Wealth-X.

In total the report found that the number of ultra wealthy people in the world hit 199,235 in 2013, and together they held close to $28 trillion, a rise of $2 trillion on last year.

Men still far surpass women, making up 88 per cent of the world's rich elite.