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A snapshot of the world's ultra rich

Sep 30 2016 19:00
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The assets of the ultra wealthy in the world grew only marginally by 0.8% in 2015, but this small group of people who account for 0.004% of the globe’s population control 12% of the world’s wealth. 

According to the latest Wealth-X report – a wealth information and insight business – ultra high net worth individuals (Uhnwi) are people with assets worth at least $30m. 

Although the global wealth of Uhnwi increased slightly, the regional picture looks very different. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the value of assets of these individuals fell 2.4% as equity markets and local currencies and GDP yielded negative returns. 

Conversely, although China has experienced a slowdown in growth and market volatility, the Asia-Pacific region saw a 3.9% rise in the value of these individuals’ assets. 

READ: Ultra rich worry about preserving family wealth

In the Americas the 1.5% growth in ultra wealth value could be attributed to Latin America rather than North America. 

Russia and Australia on the other hand experienced double-digit declines in the number of Uhnwi and total asset value due to the slump in energy and commodity prices since the mid-2015s. 

Altogether 221 615 individuals in the world count as ultra high net worth. According to Wealth-X, these individuals are likely to be male, married and in their late 50s. 

“In two of three cases, their wealth is self-made rather than inherited,” the report said. On average their assets are worth $141m in 2015, which represents an average increase of $290 000 year on year. 

These individuals are generally found in the finance, banking and investment industries, although the manufacturing sector is also yielding its fare share of ultra high net worth individuals at 8%. 

United States

The US has the highest percentage of the world’s Uhnwi, with 69 350. This is the third of the world's Uhnwi population.  

Growth of US-based Uhnwi declined in 2015 which is surprising, given that the US economy grew by 2.5% in 2015 that prompted the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at the end of 2015. 


Despite slower economic growth and a roller-coaster stock market, China’s ultra wealthy population grew by 980 individuals in 2015, or close to 9% to 12 050. 

China has one of the world’s youngest ultra high net worth populations, who are on average 52 years old. 

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