Wealth Grew Faster in North America Than in Asia Pacific Last Year

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(Bloomberg) — For all the misery unleashed in 2020, the year also produced a gusher of global riches — and a change in which region ranks highest in high-net-worth-wealth growth.

For the first time in five years, North America bested the Asia-Pacific region in the growth of high-net-worth individuals, and in how quickly their wealth expanded, according to the Capgemini World Wealth report released Tuesday.

North America accounted for 55% of the roughly 1.2 million new high-net-worth individuals minted in 2020, compared with 39% of the previous year’s 1.6 million new entrants. It was also where 46% of the year’s growth in wealth among that group originated, up from a 37% share in 2019.

On a country-by-country basis, however, high-net-worth wealth in China rose 13.5% over 2019, compared with 12.3% for the U.S. 

© Bloomberg Where High-Net Worth Wealth Grew Fastest

Globally, stock market gains fueled a 6.3% rise in the ranks of the world’s high-net-worth population, and a 7.6% gain in their wealth. The annual report defines that group as including those with investable wealth of $1 million to $5 million (which it calls “the millionaires next door”), individuals with $5 million to $30 million (the “mid-tier millionaires”) and the ultra-high net worth set with $30 million or more.

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The wealth news was even better, unsurprisingly, for the world’s ultra-high-net worth individuals. That population grow at a 9.6% rate and saw wealth rise 9.1% compared with 2019. The largest growth was in the Middle East, where the ranks of the ultra-rich grew by 31.2% in 2020 from a year earlier, and wealth rose 17.2%.

Iran played a big part in the Middle East region’s wealth growth, with its ultra-rich population rising by 24.5% and that group’s wealth swelling by 27.3%. 

Much of mushrooming wealth was thanks to a booming technology sector, and not just because of the dominance on U.S. stock markets of firms such such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. It was also affected by, among other things, the strong tech stock performance in South Korea and a boom in semiconductor exports in Taiwan. 

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