The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) around the world is predicted to grow by 27% in the next five years to 2025, led by Asia, taking the total population to 663,483, a new report said.
Such individuals are defined as those who have $30m (£21m) or more to their name.
Estate agent Knight Frank’s the Wealth Report estimates that over the same period, the number of millionaires globally is set to rise by 41%.
“In the middle of a global pandemic and the related economic crisis why should we be interested in the wealthy? Simply put if we are to understand market and asset performance then the wealthy form a central part of the story," said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank.
"From policy makers to investors, a lack of insight into the behaviour and attitudes of the 'one-percent' risks a serious misreading of economic trends," he added.
The report said Asia is likely to see the largest rise in the number of UHNWIs with growth of 39%, compared to the 27% global average, led by Indonesia (67%) and India (63%).
By 2025, Asia will host 24% of all UHNWIs, up from 17% a decade earlier. The region is already home to more billionaires than any other, at 36% of the global total.
“China is the key to this phenomenon with 246% forecast growth in very wealthy residents in the decade to 2025,” said Bailey.
Europe will retain its crown as the second largest wealth hub with expected growth of 23%, bringing the total number of UHNWIs to 185,860.
The biggest rises in Europe are forecast in Poland (61%) and Sweden (59%).
Meanwhile, Africa is expected to see the second biggest regional five-year UHNWI growth rate of 33%, led by Zambia (40%) and South Africa (32%).
Looking back at 2020, Knight Frank said the number of UHNWIs globally increased by 2.4% amid the pandemic, just one-third of the growth rate in 2019, bringing the total to more than 520,000.
China saw the largest increase in its UHNW population, where the number grew by 9,594, followed by the US (6,080) and Japan (1,199).
North America’s UHNWI population was 4% higher in 2020 than 2019. The regions which were seemingly able to control the pandemic best, Asia and Australasia, were the strongest performers with growth of 12% and 10% respectively.
Meanwhile in a Knight Frank Attitudes Survey, conducted amongst leading private bankers and wealth advisers, half said their clients’ wealth had increased in 2020.
Those with North American clients were most optimistic, with 73% citing an increase and a further 23% seeing stability.
Among the survey respondents who said their UHNWI clients’ wealth had increased, three key themes emerged as to why: diversification, equities and property.
Flora Harley, deputy editor of the report, noted that "although COVID-19 is still far from under control in many parts of the world, the forecast growth in the number of UHNWIs globally over the next five years represents optimism for the emergence of a new economic cycle and sets new expectations for the post-pandemic world.”
The report also found that the most preferred cities for UHNWIs to live, invest and do business in are London and New York.
Last month, a report said the world’s 10 richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by $540bn.
Despite COVID-19, the study noted that the wealth of 1,000 of the world’s billionaires, who are mostly white men, returned to the record highs seen before the pandemic within less than nine months as stock markets rebounded, despite continued recession in the real economy.
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