Many rich but few billionaires in Singapore

Published 6 April 2011
The Business Times
By Lynn Kan

Wealth of high net worth individuals in Asia-Pac grew 35% last year: report

Singapore boasts more high net worth individuals (HNWIs) than South Korea and Taiwan, yet has fewer billionaires than the two.

Where are the wealthy?As of 2010, the city-state had 219,000 of high net worth individuals with over US$1 million in investable assets, compared to South Korea’s 128,000 and Taiwan’s 104,000.

Yet, only seven billionaires reside in Singapore, going by Citi Private Bank-Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report 2011. In contrast, South Korea has 10 billionaires and Taiwan 14.

The report, published annually, showed that over the past year, high net worth wealth grew by 35 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region, outstripping Latin America’s 25 per cent and Europe’s 20 per cent growths. This segment of wealth grew 22 per cent worldwide over 2010.

Total high net worth wealth in Asia-Pacific is shown by Citi-Knight Frank to be US$11 trillion.

As more of the rich get richer in this part of the world, that has also had knock-on effects on luxury property prices.

Six of the ten largest price gainers came from Asia alone, said the survey.

Prices for exclusive real estate in Singapore climbed 18 per cent, behind Shanghai’s 21 per cent and Mumbai’s 20 per cent.

However, the most expensive luxury hot spots are still the ones in Europe such as Monaco, London, Paris and the French Mediterranean.

Singapore trails Tokyo and Hong Kong as the 10th most expensive luxury property market in the world.

It is uncertain whether Singapore’s fortunes on The Wealth Report rankings will rise or fall in the coming year. Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report, said that events in North Africa and Middle East in 2011 would likely ‘serve to enhance the desirability of true global centres like London and New York’.

Senior political analyst for Citi Private Bank, Tina Fordham, said that 2011 has so far proven to be the ‘Year of Living Dangerously’ when it comes to the impact of politics on the global investment environment.

Over half of the individuals surveyed for the report said they were ‘more concerned’ about political instability now than over the past five years.

‘Political risk is returning to the fore in both developed and emerging markets,’ said Ms Fordham. ‘In order to make sense of these developments, investors will need to be aware of this year’s signposts and key risks, raising their political IQ.’

More key measures and trends about the wealthy can be found in Citi Private Bank-Knight Frank Wealth Report 2011, launched today. A digital copy can be obtained at www.knightfrank.com/wealthreport

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