About 3 000 super-rich left SA in the past 10 years - report

About 3 000 super-rich (those with wealth of about $1m or R14m or more) "migrated" from South Africa over the past 10 years, Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, told Fin24 on Monday.

Most of them went to the UK, Australia and the US. Switzerland and Portugal are also popular destinations for them to migrate to, according to Amoils.

He defines migration as those who have in reality "left" South Africa and are living in their new country more than half the year.

Among the estimated 108 000 dollar-millionaires globally who migrated to another country in 2018, Australia came out as the top destination, according to a new report by AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth, which examines recent wealth migration in the world.

Mauritius is the only African country on the list of popular destinations high net worth individuals (HNWIs) migrated to in 2018. According to the report, this is because it is seen as safe and business friendly, and has low tax rates when compared to the rest of Africa.

"It is a hotspot for migrating HNWIs. We expect it to benefit from strong growth in the local financial services sector," says Amoils.

For the purposes of the report, "wealth" refers to the net assets of a person. It includes all their assets - property, cash, equities and business interests - less any liabilities. The report, for instance, estimates that about 42% of the wealth held in South Africa is  held by these so-called HNWIs.

Migration accelerating

According to Amoils, global wealth migration is accelerating. He estimates that in 2017 about 95 000 HNWIs migrated globally.

Popular places for them to move to in Australia included Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Perth and Brisbane.

Other popular destinations for migrating HNWIs in 2018 included the US, Canada, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Caribbean, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Monaco, Malta, Mauritius, Latvia and Hong Kong.

The most popular cities for migrating HNWIs in 2018 included Dubai, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Sydney.

According to Amoils, wealth migration figures are a very important gauge of the health of an economy.

For instance, if a country is losing a large number of HNWIs to migration, it is probably due to serious problems in that country - like crime, lack of business opportunities and religious tensions, he told Fin24.

It can also be a sign of "bad things to come", as HNWIs are often the first people to leave, since they have the means to leave.

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