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Millionaires in Asia reach a new milestone for wealth

A clerk of ICBC bank counts Chinese 100 yuan at its branch in Beijing.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | Reuters
A clerk of ICBC bank counts Chinese 100 yuan at its branch in Beijing.

Asia's millionaires are now richer than North America's.

According to Capgemini's World Wealth Report, released Thursday, millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region had $17.4 trillion in total wealth in 2015, up nearly 10 percent from 2014. That marked the first time wealth among millionaires in that region topped that of those living in North America.

By comparison, North American millionaires had $16.6 trillion in wealth last year, representing growth of 2.3 percent. Combined, the two regions accounted for more than half of the world's $58.7 trillion in wealth from high net worth individuals. Capgemini defines those individuals as people with more than $1 million in investable assets excluding their primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.

Asia's jump was largely fueled by China and Japan, which together accounted for 60 percent of last year's global growth in the number of millionaires. Japan alone added 268,000 new millionaires last year, growing 11 percent, the report said. Millionaire growth is expected to continue skewing toward Asia, with Capgemini forecasting its millionaire population will more than double to 11.7 million by 2025.

Last year, the number of millionaires in Asia increased 9.4 percent to 5.1 million. In North America, the high net worth population increased 2 percent to 4.8 million.

By country, the U.S. still has a commanding lead in the millionaire count, at 4.5 million. Yet its growth in this metric is modest, at 2 percent. Japan ranked second with 2.7 million millionaires, followed by Germany with 1.2 million. China, which ranked fourth, had 1 million millionaires.

Growth among the number of millionaires and their net worth is slowing around the world, after rapid increases between 2010 and 2014. Capgemini said millionaire wealth grew 4 percent in 2015, while the number of millionaires increased 4.9 percent, to 15.4 million. Both rates are slower than the more than 7 percent growth seen in each metric after 2010.

Yet millionaires are still getting richer. The report said they're expected to have more than $100 trillion in wealth in the next 10 years, up from nearly $59 trillion today.