The 2018 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report reveals a steady growth in global household
wealth, with Singapore among the top for Asia’s wealthiest individuals.
The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report is an annual report that attempts to paint a
comprehensive picture of the world’s household wealth, and the factors contributing to it.
Household wealth is essentially the value of financial and real assets owned by a household,
minus any debts.
The report’s 2018 edition marked the increase in household wealth at moderate pace, with a
growth rate increase of 4.6% over the last 12 months till mid-2018. While this rate is lower
compared to 2017, it is important to note that it is still higher than the average over the last
decade – in fact, with the population growth rate being lower than that of the wealth growth
rate, global mean wealth per adult reached a record high of US$63,100.
Increasing Global Wealth
The report found that while financial assets constituted 41% of the increase in wealth, the
biggest stimulus to overall growth was the increase of non-financial assets in most regions.
The last 12 months have seen non-financial assets account for more than 75% of the rise in
China and Europe, and all of the rise in India. Country wise, the US and China recorded the
highest wealth gains, followed by Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Japan. China now
ranks second in the world wealth hierarchy, overtaking Japan with respect to the number of
ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals in 2009, total wealth in 2011, and number of
millionaires in 2014. The biggest losses in wealth were recorded in Brazil, Turkey and
Geographically, North America and Europe account for 60% of total household wealth –
even though they account for 17% of the world’s population. China and the Asia-Pacific
region have a population share about 30% higher than the wealth share, while the
population share is more than thrice the wealth share in Latin America, nine times the wealth
share in India, and 15 times the wealth share in Africa.
In terms of measuring wealth per adult, the US has the largest increase, followed by Libya,
France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, and a number of smaller countries. The
largest decrease in wealth per adult was recorded by Switzerland followed by Sweden, New
Zealand and Israel.
The number of millionaires increased in 2018 by 2.3 million, bringing the total to 42.2 million
millionaires worldwide. The US alone contributed around 40% of the global increase, just a
fraction below the combined total of new millionaires in France, Germany, the United
Kingdom and Italy (around 200,000 each). China accounted for 186,000 new millionaires
and 94,000 in Japan. The number of millionaires fell in a handful of countries, such as
Turkey, Sweden, Australia and Brazil, primarily due to currency depreciation.
To be counted among the world’s wealthiest half of world citizens in 2018, an individual
would require net assets worth US$4,210. Assets worth US$93,170 would land them among
the top 10%, while US$871,320 would belong to the top 1% of global wealth holders.
Prosperity In Singapore
In Singapore, the number of millionaires grew by 11.2% from last year, bringing the
headcount to 183,737. Wealth per adult has been growing since the new millennium to the
current average of US$283,120. This puts Singapore at 9th place in the world in terms of
household wealth per adult, the highest in Asia excluding China.
Similar to how assets are distributed in Switzerland, 55% of Singaporean household wealth
is made up of financial assets. The average debt is 16% of the total assets, which is
moderate for a high wealth country like Singapore. Statistics show that wealth inequality is
not extreme in the Lion City – compared to 64% globally, just 14% of its people have wealth
below US$10,000. However, the percentage of individuals with wealth above US$100,000 is
five times more than the world’s average. Some 0.5% of these individuals are part of the top
1% of global wealth holders – no mean feat, considering that Singapore accounts for just
0.1% of the world’s adult population.
This article was first printed in MillionaireAsia Issue 50 - Dec 2018