Number of Global Ultra High Net Worth Original Hits Record High

The ranks of the global “ultra-high net worth” (UHNW) individuals swelled by 46,000 last year to a record 218,200 as the world’s richest people benefited from “almost an explosion of wealth” during the recovery from the pandemic.

According to a report by investment bank Credit Suisse, the number of UHNW people – those with assets worth more than $50 million (£43.7 million) – will increase in 2021 as the super-rich benefit from soaring house prices and booming stock markets. Over the last two years, the number of people in the UHNW bracket has increased by more than 50%.

The huge increase in wealth of the richest 0.00004% of the world’s adult population comes as billions of low- and middle-income people many of whom saw their savings wiped out during the pandemic  struggle to cope with soaring food and energy prices.

“The strong rise in financial assets resulted in an increase in inequality in 2021,” the report by Credit Suisse, which helps manage the fortunes of many of the world’s richest people, said. “The rise in inequality is probably due to the surge in the value of financial assets during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report, “the recovery of macroeconomic activity in a low-interest environment produced exceptionally favorable conditions for household wealth growth in 2021.”

“We estimate that global wealth totalled $463.6tn at the end of 2021, a rise of $41.4tn (9.8%),” the report said. “Wealth per adult grew by $6,800 (8.4%) during the course of the year to reach $87,489, close to three times the level recorded at the turn of the century.”

Anthony Shorrocks, an economics professor and an author of the report, said there had been “almost an explosion of wealth last year Probably higher than any other year we have ever recorded”.

Wealth growth has not been distributed fairly. For the second year in a row, the richest 1% of the global population increased their share of total global wealth to 46%, up from 44% in 2020.

Global Ultra High Net Worth

The number of US dollar millionaires increased by 5.2 million during 2021 to a total of 62.5 million just under the 67 million population of the UK. Shorrocks said the number of millionaires was becoming so large that it was becoming “an increasingly irrelevant measure of wealth”.

More than one-third of millionaires live in the United States, which has 24.5 million millionaires, or 39% of the world’s total.

The number of millionaires in the United States increased by 2.5 million, accounting for nearly half of all new millionaires worldwide. “This is the largest increase in millionaire numbers recorded for any country in any year this century and confirms the rapid rise in millionaire numbers seen in the United States since 2016,” according to the report.

China is in second place, with 10% of the world’s millionaires, ahead of Japan with 5.4%, the UK (4.6%), and France (4.5%).

Switzerland was named the richest country in terms of mean average wealth per adult, with $700,000, surpassing the United States, which had $579,000.

However, when the median average wealth per adult is examined, the inequalities in those countries are highlighted. Switzerland drops to sixth place with a median wealth of $168,000, while the United States falls to 18th place with $93,000. Australia ranks first in the world in terms of median wealth, with $274,000.

UK adults have a mean wealth of $309,000 (14th place) and a median wealth of $142,000 (ninth place).

The country with the biggest jump in mean average wealth was New Zealand, which saw a $114,000 average increase to $472,000.

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