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Wealth Declines Among The Rich After Seven Years Of Growth

For the first time in seven years, the wealth of global high-net-worth individuals dipped, falling 3 percent in 2018, a decline due primarily to a slump in equity-market performance and slowing economies in key regions, according to Capgemini’s World Wealth Report 2019.

Most affected were the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The Middle East was the only area to see an increase in both the level of wealth and the population of high-net-worth individuals.

Ultra-high-net-worth individuals (who represent 1 percent of the high-net-worth population) saw a 6 percent decline in their wealth, but accounted for most of the overall global decline (75 percent) because of economic and political turbulence, the report noted. Midtier millionaires (those with $5 million to $30 million) made up 20 percent of the total global loss.

“World Wealth Report 2019” covers 71 countries accounting for more than 98 percent of global gross national income and 99 percent of world stock market capitalization.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for half of the $2 trillion global wealth falloff, with a 2 percent decrease in the population of high-net-worth individuals and a nearly 5 percent dip in their wealth.

China, the report noted, accounted for the bulk (nearly 53 percent) of the overall Asia-Pacific wealth decline and thus more than 25 percent of the overall decline in this cohort’s global wealth. Chinese markets lost more than $2.5 trillion in market capitalization amid uncertainties in U.S.-China relations and pressure on the yuan, the report said.

Japan and India also showed a decline in the wealth of the rich. India declined slightly as its economy slowed in 2018 and the country struggled to create jobs as unemployment rose to its highest in recent years, the report said.

Europe accounted for about one-quarter of the overall decline, or $500 billion. It had a nearly 0.5 percent decrease in the wealthy population and a 3 percent decrease in high-net-worth wealth.

The only bright spot was the Middle East, which recorded an increase in both the wealth (by 4 percent) and population (by 6 percent) of the high-net-worth space. The report attributed these patterns to improving oil prices in the region combined with its significant fiscal and structural reforms to combat the impact of declining oil prices. Saudi Arabia saw the wealthy population increase by 7 percent and their wealth by 4 percent. Kuwait saw an 8 percent spike in the population of the wealthy and a 6 percent rise in their wealth.

North America was one of three regions to record an increase in the population of the wealthy cohort (0.4 percent), after a 3 percent hike in gross domestic product (GDP). But high-net-worth individuals’ wealth decreased slightly, by 1 percent.

Canada, on the other hand, felt the effects of jittery financial markets, and its wealthy population fell by 4 percent, their wealth by 6 percent.

The report found that the asset allocations of the wealthy also shifted significantly—cash replaced equities to become the most held asset class in the first quarter of 2019, representing 28 percent of high-net-worth individuals’ financial wealth, while equities declined 5 percentage points, slipping to the second position at nearly 26 percent.

Volatile equity market conditions also spurred an increase in allocation toward alternative investments to 13 percent, up 4 percentage points from the previous year.

The report also noted that despite declining wealth, high-net-worth individuals’ year-over-year trust and satisfaction in wealth managers and firms remained steady; it was 79 percent for wealth managers and 82 percent for firms.

Compared to Europe and Asia-Pacific, the report said high-net-worth individuals in North America indicated the most trust and confidence in their wealth managers (88 percent) and firms (91 percent).

However, the report pointed out that as the industry evolves and as the expectations of the wealthy shift, the way firms deliver value to clients will be critical, as an unsatisfactory service experience was the biggest reason for the rich to switch their firms in 2018.

“The World Wealth Report 2019” combines two surveys: the Capgemini “2019 Global HNW Insights Survey” (which included more than 2,500 high-net-worth individuals across 19 major wealth markets in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific) and the 2019 “Capgemini Wealth Manager Survey,” which included around 250 wealth managers across major wealth markets in North America and Europe.


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