Which countries are top for privately-held wealth?

New report shines a light on the world's wealthy and where they seek alternative residence or citizenship

Which countries are top for privately-held wealth?
Steve Randall

The world’s wealthy have never had greater choice of where to be located, thanks for technology, transport links, and the welcome that many countries will give them – and their cash!

A new report shows that the three countries that are top for privately-held wealth are the US, China, and Japan, with the US in the lead by some margin, accounting for 32% of total global wealth and 36% of the world’s high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs).

Total private wealth in the US of almost US$69 trillion far exceeds that of China at $23 trillion and Japan at $20 trillion.

The Henley & Partners report, drawing on data from New World Wealth, shows that the US saw a 10% growth in population of HNWIs, followed by China at 4% and Japan at 3%.

However, China is set to accelerate in this regard, according to the report’s 10-year outlook, with a 50% growth in HNWIs compared to 20% in the US. Japan will post a 30% gain.

India, Germany, UK, Australia, Canada, France, and finally Italy complete the list of the world’s 10 wealthiest countries by total wealth (the W10).

Investment migration

All of these countries share a key component, says Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners.

“It’s no coincidence that each of the W10 countries has legislation in place granting residence rights to foreign investors — and five host formal investment migration programs,” he said. “These countries are important investment migration markets in terms of both supply, thanks to their attractive and successful programs, and demand, due to their significant and growing populations of affluent investors.”

Indian nationals topped the charts for enquiries received by the firm in 2021 by a significant margin, with growth of 54% compared to 2020 — a year which itself saw a 63% rise in interest shown by Indian investors.

The second highest rise with among US citizens with Henley & Partners receiving 26% more enquiries in 2021 after astonishing growth of 208% in 2020. Enquiries by Brits and South Africans shot up by 110% and 38%, respectively, in 2021.

But Canadians were also interest in exploring possibilities, ranking 9th in enquiries with an 86% growth year-over-year.

There is also high interest from wealthy people in South Asia with the firm seeing a 52% increase in client enquiries from this region in 2021 compared to 2020.

“The combination of W10 countries and developing economies that make up our Top 10 reflects the universal appeal of investment migration for affluent families,” added Volek. “In addition to the traditional benefits of enhanced global mobility, residence and citizenship by investment programs offer a proven risk mitigation and growth diversification strategy in terms of wealth and legacy planning with the added lifestyle advantage of domicile optionality.”

Covid and climate change are among the drivers of the desire to seek alternative residence, along with geopolitics and perhaps the fear of wealth taxes being considered by some jurisdictions.