World’s ultra-rich getting much richer – study

2014-11-21 11:53

A bare 0.004% of the world’s adult population controls nearly $30 trillion in assets, 13% of the world’s total wealth, according to a new study released yesterday.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the study by the Swiss bank UBS and luxury industry consultant Wealth-X said the concentration of money in the hands of the ultra-rich is growing.

The report said 211 275 people qualify as “ultra-high net worth” – those with assets above $30 million. Of them, 2 325 have more than $1 billion.

Their numbers grew by 6% over the past year, but their wealth grew by 7%, as asset markets like stocks and property soared in many places around the world.

The fastest growth, indeed, came in the “demi-billionaire” group worth a half-billion to a billion dollars apiece, the study said.

“Even amid geopolitical conflicts, socioeconomic strife, and volatile currency markets, the world’s equity markets displayed strong performances, thereby enabling ultra-high net worth individuals’ wealth to increase and their influence across industries and sectors to grow – from their importance in wealth management to their consumption of luxury goods,” it said.

“Such a large concentration of wealth in the hands of these few individuals means that they tend to have a large degree of influence, whether on global equity markets or specific industries.”

Of the nearly $30 trillion this elite group controls, just over one-third is in the hands of tycoons in North America, more than one-quarter in Europe and 23% in Asia.

Of them, 87% are men, of the average age of 59, and nearly one-quarter of them were in banking. Of them, 68% were “self-made” rich, 13% rich by inheritance, and the rest a combination of the two.

The average ultra-rich woman was 57, and more likely to be involved in nonprofit and social organisations (19%) than any other sector. Nearly half became wealthy through inheritance, while one-third were self-made wealthy.

As F Scott Fitzgerald wrote, the rich are different. The average ultra-high net worther spends $1 million a year on luxury goods and services.

Yet, the study points out, luxury items can be “part and parcel of their lifestyle and are not necessarily considered a ‘luxury’.”

“For example, ultra-high net worth individuals with private jets use their aircraft not only for leisure, but also for business purposes. On the other hand, while yachts, and particularly superyachts, are usually a non-necessity, many ultra-high net worth individuals lead very public lives, and the privacy of a family holiday on a yacht is a very special treat.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.