Asia Growth Drives Up Number of ‘Super Rich’: Report

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There are more millionaires and "super rich" people than ever before as the rapid growth in Asia's emerging markets propels private wealth to record levels, according to a new report.

Private wealth increased 7.8 percent to $135.5 trillion in 2012 from the previous year, says Boston Consulting Group, the management consultancy. The total number of millionaire households reached 13.8 million and the number of "super rich", or households worth more than $100 million, rose to about 12,000.

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The rise in private wealth suggests the global economy is finally shrugging off the effects of the financial crisis, says BCG, helped by Asia's rapid growth.

Asia, excluding Japan, was the fastest-growing region, with private wealth increasing to $28 trillion, a 17 percent jump on 2011. The figure is projected to nearly double to $48.1 trillion over the next five years.

"The world seems to have put the financial crisis behind it with more millionaires and super rich people than before," said Brent Beardsley, partner and managing director at BCG. "There could be another hiccup, but the world looks like it is recovering as the equity markets rise and the emerging world continues to grow."

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BCG has been compiling the report since 2000 using data from more than 130 private banks and wealth managers as well as extracting information from government national accounts. It said the world's richest households are projected to accumulate more wealth at a faster pace.

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It forecasts global wealth will increase to $171.2 trillion in 2017, with the bulk of the growth coming from Asia, excluding Japan, as the developing world catches up with the developed world in terms of share of wealth.

The U.S. remains the wealthiest country, with Japan second, China third and the UK and Germany equal fourth. Qatar has the highest density of millionaires – 143 out of every 1,000 households.

The strong rebound in the equity markets since last July has helped the world's rich people gather more wealth in the developed world, while strong economic growth has been the driver in the emerging world.

The report says that of the big emerging market nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China, only China was among the top 15 wealthiest countries in 2007. Since then, China has been joined by India. In 2017, China is projected to be ranked second, overtaking Japan, with India ranked ninth and Russia 11th.

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Wealth managers also achieved growth in assets under management of 13 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for the strongest growth of 23 percent, followed by Latin America at 18 percent.

Offshore wealth, defined as assets booked in a country where the investor has no legal residence or tax domicile, rose 6.1 percent to $8.5 trillion with western Europe the predominant source of the money and Switzerland its most popular destination.