Hong Kong’s uber-rich population shrinks by 23% while New York, Singapore close in on top spot for ultra-wealthy

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Asia’s population of ultra-wealthy people shrank by about 11 per cent in 2022 – the biggest decline among regions worldwide – as individuals with a net worth of more than US$30 million saw their riches diminished by China’s strict Covid-19 curbs, sluggish economies, geopolitical issues and an equities slump amid monetary tightening, according to the latest report by Altrata.

Hong Kong remained ahead of New York City as the world’s premier city for ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs), with 12,615 such people versus New York’s 11,845, according to the London-based consultancy that compiles and tracks data on the wealthy and influential. However, Hong Kong’s lead narrowed significantly, as its UHNWI cohort declined by 23 per cent while New York’s grew by 2.3 per cent.

Singapore recorded a 13.4 per cent increase to 4,160 UHNWIs – by far the strongest gain among the top 10 cities and good for seventh place. Tokyo, with a 27 per cent decrease to 3,710, took ninth place.

Globally, the number of ultra-rich fell by 5.4 per cent to 395,070, marking the first decline since 2018 and largest contraction since 2015. The collective wealth of the group eroded by 5.5 per cent to US$45 trillion, according to Altrata.

Hong Kong’s uber-rich population shrinks by 23% while New York, Singapore close in on top spot for ultra-wealthy - Informative Updates™
A Gulfstream private jet. The global ultra-rich cohort is expected to command wealth of US$60.3 trillion by 2027. Photo: Handout

The trend is not likely to continue, however, as Altrata forecasts that by 2027, the super-rich population will rise to 528,100 while their net worth will appreciate by a third to US$60.3 trillion.

“Even by recent standards, 2022 was a year of extreme volatility, as the fallout from a new war in Europe, soaring commodity prices, a pandemic lockdown in China and heightened geopolitical tensions disrupted wealth markets around the world,” Altrata said in its report. “A generational surge in inflation triggered aggressive monetary policy tightening for the first time in more than a decade, prompting a major reassessment of capital market risk and returns. Bond markets slumped and most leading stock market indices posted double-digit falls.”

Asset portfolios in both Hong Kong and New York “took a hit from the broad slump in capital markets”, the report said, but while the US enjoyed fairly robust consumer spending, official stimulus and limited exposure to external shocks, Hong Kong suffered from “a combination of pandemic restrictions, an economic downturn, subdued growth in China and the legacy effects of domestic political upheaval in recent years”.

Hong Kong’s exemptions for ultra wealthy to boost wealth management industry

Across Asia, the second-largest region for the affluent set behind North America, the UHNWI population declined by 10.9 per cent to 108,370 – a 27 per cent global share. Total wealth fell by 10.6 per cent to US$12.1 trillion, all but eroding the previous year’s gains, the report said. For comparison, North America’s UHNWI population and the total wealth of that group fell by around 4 per cent, and both figures declined by 7.1 per cent for Europe.

Over the past decade, the 10 largest ultra-wealthy markets were all located in Europe, Asia and North America, but a “modest shake-up” over the next 10 years is likely, with Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates showing strong growth, Altrata said.

Among countries, the US retained its top spot: its rich population declined 4.3 per cent to 129,665 individuals, but the group holds US$15.05 trillion in wealth. China came in second place with a super-rich population of 47,190, down 7.1 per cent, with a cumulative wealth of US$5.3 trillion.

Altrata included Hong Kong on the list of ultra-wealthy countries, in seventh position, with US$1.5 trillion in wealth. Japan took fourth place on the country list, with 14,940 people holding US$1.4 trillion.

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